European stocks were little changed after their biggest weekly advance since April, as Chinese exports rose more than expected and investors awaited a U.S. decision this week on possible air strikes against Syria.
BG Group Plc retreated 5.1 percent as the U.K.’s third-largest oil and gas producer said output next year will fall short of its estimates. Vallourec SA climbed 3.6 percent after Kepler Cheuvreux upgraded the producer of steel pipes for the oil-and-gas industry.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.1 percent to 305.84 at the close of trading. The gauge advanced 0.5 percent on Sept. 6 as investors assessed whether the Federal Reserve will reduce its monthly bond purchases after data showed the U.S. economy added fewer jobs last month than expected. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1.4 percent today as Japanese shares closed at a one-month high after Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
“Despite some reasonable Chinese economic data and the boost to Japanese markets following its successful Olympic bid, European shares remain under some pressure due to the ongoing uncertainties of the situation in Syria and the increasing likelihood of U.S. quantitative-easing tapering,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc in London, wrote in an e-mail. “Until such time that either or both of these twin concerns are resolved or at least addressed, there is likely to be a continuation of risk aversion from investors who are unwilling to commit to the market unreservedly.”
China’s exports increased more in August than forecast and inflation stayed below a government target. Overseas shipments rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said in Beijing yesterday. That beat the 5.5 percent median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Consumer prices rose 2.6 percent, the statistics bureau said today.
President Barack Obama this week will seek to persuade a skeptical Congress and a reluctant American public to support air strikes against Syria. He failed to win backing from foreign leaders at last week’s Group of 20 summit for military action in response to a chemical weapons attack that his administration said killed more than 1,400 people.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 10 of the 18 western European markets today. France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX advanced less than 0.1 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.3 percent.
BG fell 5.1 percent to 1,217 pence, its biggest drop since October 2012. Turmoil in Egypt has delayed the West Delta Deep Marine project and first production from the Knarr project in Norway has been pushed back four months to the second half of next year. The combined impact will shave 30,000 barrels a day off next year’s production. BG will also operate fewer rigs in the U.S., reducing next year’s volumes by 17,000 barrels a day, the Reading-based company said.
EON SE and RWE AG, Germany’s two biggest utilities, fell 1.7 percent to 12.49 euros and 1.6 percent to 22.91 euros, respectively. Bank of America Corp. downgraded EON’s shares to underperform, similar to a sell rating, from neutral, citing “misplaced optimism” and the likelihood of lower power prices.
HSBC Holdings Plc cut its projected price targets on EON and RWE’s shares to 10 euros and 18 euros, respectively, saying the harsh trading environment will continue.
A gauge of utility companies posted the fourth-worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.
Munich Re jumped 3.1 percent to 139.20 euros. Bank of America upgraded the world’s biggest reinsurer from neutral to buy, citing the recent “overdone” share-price weakness, its strong capital position and lower exposure to catastrophe reinsurance relative with its peers. Shares have lost 12 percent since reaching their highest price in more than 10 years on April 25.
Vallourec rose 3.6 percent to 47.77 euros after Kepler Cheuvreux upgraded the shares to buy from hold, citing significant price hikes by its U.S. competitors.
Christian Dior SA advanced 2.8 percent to 135.85 euros as the French luxury goods maker announced that it has entered into a forward purchase agreement with an authorized financial intermediary to buy a maximum 550,000 of its own shares.
K+S AG, Europe’s biggest potash distributor, rose 8.2 percent to 20.35 euros, its highest price since OAO Uralkali, the largest producer of the crop fertilizer, quit a production cartel to increase output.
The Russian edition of Forbes Magazine reported that billionaires Mikhail Gutseriev and Vladimir Evtushenkov may bid for a 22 percent stake in Uralkali owned by Suleiman Kerimov, which could result in a change of strategy at the company.