- Oil stocks post worst performance among European equities
- Monsanto has explored possible deals with Bayer and BASF
Energy producers and miners led a retreat in European stocks, while chemical companies climbed amid merger-and-acquisition speculation.
Total SA dragged oil shares to the biggest drop on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Commodity producers snapped a three-day advance, with ArcelorMittal leading declines. BASF SE and Bayer AG led chemical stocks to the best performance on the equity gauge as Monsanto Co. was said to have explored possible deals with the two German companies.
The Stoxx 600 slid 0.3 percent to 340.82 at the close of trading, after swinging between gains of as much as 0.6 percent and a loss of 0.9 percent. The volume of shares changing hands was 26 percent lower than the 30-day average.
“We have seen a pretty strong recovery after the selloff and the market is losing steam these days,” said Matthias Jasper, head of equities at WGZ Bank in Dusseldorf. “The market needs new orientation for the time being as it is getting weary of the old discussion of the glass being half full or half empty. Markets have been so shaky lately that people’s willingness to lock in profits is higher than previous years.”
European equities rebounded as much as 14 percent since a Feb. 11 low amid a rally in banks and miners, and central-bank steps to spur growth. Still, confidence in monetary policy has been tempered by concerns over earnings prospects, and European shares ended last week little changed.
Among stocks moving on corporate news today, Swedbank AB lost 1.7 percent after naming a new chief financial officer. Boliden AB fell 5 percent after Citigroup Inc. double downgraded the miner to sell from buy, saying its balance sheet isn’t attractive after it bought the Kevitsa mine in Finland.
Telecom Italia SpA climbed 3.1 percent after saying that Chief Executive Officer Marco Patuano resigned. Gas Natural SDG SA added 1.7 percent after changing its dividend proposal and increasing its payout ratio.