German stocks fell, led by Deutsche Bank AG, amid concern Italy’s inconclusive parliamentary elections will lead to renewed turmoil in the euro region.
Deutsche Bank fell the most since September, while Commerzbank AG declined to its lowest level in more than two months as a gauge of lenders performed the worst of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Fresenius SE rose to the highest in four months after saying it expects profit to exceed 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in 2013.
The DAX Index dropped 2.3 percent to 7,597.11 at the close of trading in Frankfurt, erasing its advance this year. The volume of DAX-listed shares changing hands today was 30 percent greater than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The broader HDAX Index slid 2.1 percent.
“Investors are trapped,” Andreas Lipkow, a senior market strategist at Kliegel & Hafner AG in Berlin, said in a telephone interview. “They thought trading for the scenario of risk-on mode was perfect. It is very likely they bought Italian government bonds. Right now the yields on these bonds are rising and could cause problems in their portfolios.”
Italian government bonds fell, pushing 10-year yields up by the most in 14 months as results pointed to a hung parliament. Pre-election favorite Pier Luigi Bersani won Italy’s lower house by less than a half a point.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former premier fighting a tax-fraud conviction and charges of paying a minor for sex, called for a recount and won a blocking minority in the Senate. In its first national contest, Beppe Grillo’s group got 25 percent support. An Italian government requires a majority in both houses.
Berlusconi and Grillo, the candidates running to reverse the austerity implemented by incumbent Premier Mario Monti to contain the region’s financial crisis, scored about 55 percent of the popular vote. The result may lead President Giorgio Napolitano to install an interim government to write a new election law as the prelude to another vote.
“The Italian election outcome underlines the European Union-wide problem with too much austerity,” Ion Marc Valahu, co-founder and fund manager at Clairinvest in Geneva, wrote.
Confidence among U.S. consumers jumped more than forecast in February. The Conference Board’s index climbed to 69.6, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, from a revised 58.4 in January, data from the New York-based private research group showed today. It was the first improvement in four months and the biggest since November 2011.
Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank AG, Germany’s two biggest lenders, slipped 4.9 percent to 34.43 euros, and 3 percent to 1.40 euros, respectively.
Allianz SE, Europe’s largest insurer, and Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer, retreated 2.8 percent to 102.75 euros, and 2.6 percent to 134.30 euros, respectively. A gauge of insurance companies dropped the second most among the industry groups in the Stoxx 600.
BASF SE lost 3.1 percent to 72.69 euros. The world’s biggest chemical maker said earnings before interest, tax and one-time items increased 18 percent to 1.8 billion euros in the fourth quarter, in line with estimates. The stock dropped as the proposed dividend of 2.60 euros per share was less than estimated by some analysts.
MorphoSys AG, the biotechnology company that helps drugmakers discover new medicines, fell 2.9 percent to 33.12 euros as concern that the euro-area debt crisis will worsen prompted investors to sell the best-performing stocks. The shares pared declines of as much as 9.1 percent.
Fresenius SE gained 2.8 percent to 93.50 euros. The health company forecast profit to exceed 1 billion euros this year, 12 months earlier than forecast, as its Kabi intravenous drugs and devices unit contributes to growth.
Fourth-quarter earnings before interest and taxes rose 9.3 percent to 766 million euros, the Bad Homburg, Germany-based company said in a statement today.
Fresenius Medical Care AG added 1.5 percent to 53.09 euros. The world’s largest provider of dialysis estimated 2013 net income of as much as $1.2 billion. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Lisa Bedell Clive said the forecast was in line with expectations.
Kabel Deutschland Holding AG rose 1.9 percent to 69.58 euros. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said a possible bid for Germany’s largest cable operator by Vodafone Group Plc. would generate significant synergies between the two companies.