European stocks were little changed, following their biggest two-day advance since April, as signs of progress in talks between Russia and Ukraine offset worse-than-projected German confidence data.
Telecom Italia SpA gained 3.2 percent after Brazil’s Oi SA said it may buy an $8 billion stake in Tim Participacoes SA, a group company of Telecom Italia. Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, which is merging with Oi, jumped 6.3 percent. Asos Plc rallied the most in a decade amid takeover speculation. Marine Harvest ASA (MHG) dropped 2.7 percent after posting an unexpected quarterly loss. United Utilities Group Plc fell 1.3 percent after analysts downgraded the U.K.’s largest publicly traded water company.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.1 percent to 343.33 at close of trading, reaching a one-month high. The gauge climbed 1.8 percent in the past two days after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled policy makers are ready to add stimulus.
“It seems like markets are stalling a bit,” Espen Furnes, who helps oversee about $85 billion at Storebrand Asset Management in Oslo, said. “The earnings season is ending now and we’re entering into a period with little company news. So we don’t foresee any big moves going forward, bar any big geopolitical happenings. The situation in Ukraine is still tense, but at least they’re now talking to each other.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he held positive talks with Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko over tensions between the two countries. More than 2,000 people have died amid fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces. Poroshenko said that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are backing a Ukrainian peace strategy.
Telecom Italia climbed 3.2 percent to 86.25 euro cents. Oi said it asked Banco BTG Pactual SA to review options enabling it to buy a stake in Tim, Brazil’s second-largest mobile carrier. A group company of Telecom Italia owns 67 percent of Tim, which has a market value of more than $12 billion.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 added less than 0.1 percent. Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 percent.
Ryanair Holdings Plc gained 3.6 percent to 7.19 euros after Europe’s biggest discount carrier began selling flexible tickets targeting business passengers. The Business Plus fare, including priority boarding and free same-day ticket changes, may account for as much as 30 percent of sales over time, Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs said. Ryanair also said it will submit a non-binding offer for Cyprus Airways.
A gauge of travel and leisure stocks posted the second-best performance among the industry groups on the Stoxx 600. Deutsche Lufthansa AG advanced 2.2 percent to 13.72 euros.
Polymetal International Plc gained 3.4 percent to 540.5 pence after posting first-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $310 million. That exceeded the average analyst prediction of $259.3 million.
Asos Plc surged 19 percent to 2,804 pence, for its biggest rally since March 2004. Guardian newspaper reported speculation that the online-only fashion retailer may be a takeover target for companies such as EBay Inc., at a price of as much as 50 pounds per share. A spokesman for Asos said the company does not comment on market speculation, while an EBay official wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Marine Harvest declined 2.7 percent to 83.50 kroner after reporting a second-quarter net loss of 144 million kroner ($23.3 million), compared with analysts’ average estimate that called for an income of 1.04 billion kroner. The world’s biggest salmon farmer said asset-value reduction as well as a 20 million-euro ($26.4 million) fine imposed by the European Commission related to its acquisition of Morpol, hurt earnings. Sales of 6.6 billion kroner matched projections.
United Utilities lost 1.3 percent to 896.5 pence after RBC Capital Markets LLC lowered its recommendation to sector perform, similar to neutral, citing a lack of positive factors in the near term. Separately, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit downgraded the stock to underperform, or sell.
Seadrill Ltd. declined 2.5 percent to 225.80 kroner after saying it will refrain from ordering new rigs because of market uncertainty. The world’s biggest drilling-rig company reported second-quarter profit of $605 million, compared with $1.73 billion a year earlier.
Foxtons Group Plc slid 10 percent to 264.2 pence, the biggest drop since its listing last September. Chief Executive Officer Nic Budden said London’s property market may be facing a slowdown in the second half of the year. The property broker focused on London and southeast England said first-half revenue rose 16 percent.
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