Europe Stocks Little Changed; Kingfisher Gains, Oil Shares Fall

Investing Strategies Amid a Return in Equity Markets
  • Crude extends drop as supplies climb more than forecast
  • European-stock volatility increases for a third session

European stocks closed little changed, after swinging from gains to losses amid a selloff in energy and commodity producers.

Total SA was the biggest drag on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index as crude extended its fall after data showed a higher-than-forecast increase in U.S. inventories. Glencore Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. tracked commodities lower. Kingfisher Plc rallied 5.9 percent after Europe’s largest home-improvement retailer reported profit that beat estimates.

The Stoxx 600 fell less than 0.1 percent at the close of trading, after earlier losing as much as 0.5 percent and rising 0.6 percent. The volume of shares changing hands was 26 percent lower than the 30-day average. The VStoxx Index, a measure of volatility on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index, rose 0.3 percent for a third day of gains after closing at a three-month low last week.

European shares yesterday recovered most losses incurred after bomb blasts at Brussels airport and a central subway station killed at least 31 people and injured more than 230. Belgian security forces have raided homes in the capital city as they hunt the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.

The Stoxx 600 hasn’t posted back-to-back gains in more than a week, a sign that the rally that pushed it to a two-month high may be running out of steam. Before that, the gauge rebounded as much as 14 percent since a Feb. 11 low, helped by optimism over central-bank policies.

Germany’s DAX Index rose 0.3 percent, paring an earlier increase of as much as 1.2 percent. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet today approved investment increases for defense and infrastructure in a budget plan that foresees 2.7 percent higher spending next year and balanced federal budgets through 2020.

Lenders posted the third-worst performance among Stoxx 600 groups. KBW Asset Management said the European banking sector will struggle to meet its cost of equity over the next three years. Credit Suisse Group AG bucked the trend, gaining 0.9 percent after announcing an additional 2,000 job cuts.

Ingenico Group SA added 5.1 percent after predicting profitability will increase over the next four years. William Hill Plc slumped 11 percent after saying earnings from its online business will be weaker than expected.

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