Europe Stocks Eke Out Advance as Investors Assess Policy Support

  • Crude up, but pares gains after Saudi Arabia, Russia briefing
  • SFR jumps after Altice agrees to buy the rest of the company

European stocks nudged ahead to their highest level since April as investors assessed the likelihood of central banks continuing to keep monetary policy accommodative.

Energy stocks rose with crude as Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to work together to stabilize the global oil market, although gains pared after they fell short of agreeing a freeze on output. ArcelorMittal led miners higher as leaders of the Group of 20 major economies mentioned the global steel glut in their communique at a meeting in China. Hugo Boss AG helped drag retailers to the biggest drop on the Stoxx 600, retreating 2.2 percent after UBS Group AG recommended selling the shares because of risks to 2017 earnings.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.1 percent to 350.62 at the close, after earlier rising as much as 0.4 percent. On Friday, it jumped to its highest level since April after U.S. data signaled the labor market is holding steady without advancing the case for an imminent rate increase. U.S. markets are shut today for a holiday. Investors will now look to this week’s European Central Bank meeting, after data showed the region’s economy lost momentum in August.

“The ECB this week will be the point of focus,” said Daniel Murray, head of research at EFG Asset Management in London. “Absent a large surprise, I suspect it will probably be a neutral meeting -- if they do anything, it will be a tweak rather than full-blown action. The jobs report probably reduces the probability of a Fed hike in September, but it wasn’t so weak that it detracts from the whole concept of an underlying economic recovery.”

Spain’s IBEX 35 Index advanced 0.5 percent, even as political wrangling over the formation of a new government intensified after opponents of caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated their refusal to back him for a second term. Germany’s DAX Index was little changed as investors ignored a defeat for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in an election in her home state.

Among stocks moving on corporate news today, SFR Group SA rose 6 percent after Patrick Drahi’s Altice NV agreed to buy the 22 percent of the company that it didn’t already own for 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion). Vonovia SE slid 2.2 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the German company’s purchase of Austrian developer Conwert Immobilien Invest SE for about 1.7 billion euros would be negative for its shares.

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