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Most German Stocks Retreat; Deutsche Boerse, Rheinmetall Drop

Most German stocks fell, pulling the benchmark DAX Index from a three-year high, as U.S. reports showed the cost of living climbed more than forecast and first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose.

Deutsche Boerse AG, which has agreed to buy NYSE Euronext and create the world’s largest operator of stock and derivatives exchanges, lost 1.6 percent. Rheinmetall AG dropped 4.6 percent as BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research downgraded the stock.

The DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 7,405.51 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Frankfurt, ending the gauge’s longest winning streak in a month, as eight stocks dropped for every seven that rose. The gauge has rallied 7.1 percent this year amid optimism that the global economic recovery is gathering strength. The broader HDAX Index fell 0.2 percent today.

The U.S. consumer-price index increased 0.4 percent for a second month, exceeding the 0.3 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. A separate report showed more Americans than projected filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, a sign that the improvement in the labor market will take time to develop.

The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in January for the seventh straight month, signaling the expansion will extend into this year. The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months increased 0.1 percent after adding 0.8 percent in December, the New York-based group said today.

Deutsche Boerse slipped 1.6 percent to 57.89 euros, its fourth day of losses. The company’s takeover bid for NYSE Euronext has a termination fee of 250 million euros ($340.2 million), according to documents filed with regulators.

Rheinmetall, BMW

Rheinmetall sank 4.6 percent to 59.85 euros as the defense and automotive supplier was downgraded to “neutral” from “buy” at BofA Merrill Lynch, which said it predicts that “rising raw material costs” will affect the auto industry.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG, the world’s biggest makers of luxury cars, dropped 1 percent to 61.04 euros and 1.1 percent to 52.97 euros, respectively. European carmakers posted the worst performance among 19 industry groups in the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index today.

Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-biggest lender, added 2.9 percent to 5.95 euros as banks rose across Europe.

Brenntag AG climbed 4.5 percent to 76 euros, its highest price this year. The chemicals distributor said its 2010 operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 26 percent to 602.6 million euros, as revenue increased.

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