European Stocks Gain as German Retail Sales Advance
European (SXXP) stocks climbed, completing their third consecutive quarterly gain, as a report showed retail sales unexpectedly increased in Germany last month and Cypriot banks opened for the first time in almost two weeks.
D.E Master Blenders 1753 NV surged the most since its initial public offering last June after the coffee and tea company spun off by Sara Lee Corp. said Joh. A. Benckiser has held talks to take it over. Ziggo NV rose to its highest price since October as Liberty Global Inc. bought a 12.7 percent stake in the Dutch cable-television operator.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.5 percent to 293.78 at the close of trading. The equity benchmark has lost 0.1 percent this week, paring its gain in March to 1.3 percent. The Stoxx 600 posted a quarterly rally of 5 percent and its longest winning streak in two years.
“German retail sales are a positive for market participants ahead of the Easter break,” said Norman Villamin, who helps oversee about $44 billion as European chief investment officer at Coutts & Co. in Zurich. “But they just reinforce the idea that Europe is running a two-speed economy.”
German retail sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, gained 0.4 percent in February, after rising a revised 3 percent in January, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists had forecast a decline of 0.6 percent, according to the median of 24 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
European stocks briefly pared their advance after a Federal Labor Agency report showed that unemployment in Europe’s largest economy unexpectedly rose this month. The number of people out of work increased a seasonally adjusted 13,000 to 2.94 million. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey had called for the number of jobless to decline by 2,000.
Cyprus’s banks opened their doors to customers today for the first time in almost two weeks. The Central Bank of Cyprus has introduced capital controls including a 300-euro ($385) daily limit on withdrawals and restrictions on transfers to accounts outside the country.
In Italy, Pier Luigi Bersani, who won a majority in the lower house of parliament last month, will tell President Giorgio Napolitano today whether he has managed to form a broad coalition capable of surviving a confidence vote in the upper house. The Democratic Party, which Bersani leads, failed to obtain a majority in the Senate in the election.
Master Blenders rallied 25 percent to 12.05 euros. JAB, an investment firm run by Bart Becht, intends to pay 12.75 euros a share, according to a statement. The maker of Douwe Egberts coffee said negotiations have only reached an early stage.
Ziggo climbed 13 percent to 27.44 euros after Liberty Global bought the stake from Barclays Plc. The cable company controlled by John Malone paid about 632.5 million euros to buy the holding, it said in a statement.
Tele2 AB (TEL2B) advanced 4.5 percent to 113.40 kronor after billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group said it’s ready to offer as much as $4 billion for the Swedish company’s Russian mobile-phone unit. A1, the investment arm of Alfa Group, said it also wants to agree on a price for Tele2’s remaining assets. VTB Group, Russia’s second-largest bank, agreed to buy Tele2 Russia for $3.55 billion in cash and debt late yesterday.
Investment AB Kinnevik, the publicly traded investment vehicle of Sweden’s Stenback family, rose 5.8 percent to 157.90 kronor. Kinnevik owns 30.5 percent of the capital and 47.7 percent of the votes in Tele2.
A gauge of European carmakers posted the worst performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600. Daimler AG, the world’s third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, lost 2 percent to 42.45 euros, while Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the biggest, slipped 2.6 percent to 67.31 euros.
CNP Assurances SA slid 1.8 percent to 10.71 euros as the French life insurer said it will assess the impact of Cyprus’s banking crisis on its joint venture with Cyprus Popular Bank Pcl. The Mediterranean nation has begun to dismantle its second- biggest lender to help meet the conditions of a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 12 of the 15 western- European markets that opened today. France’s CAC 40 jumped 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 percent. Markets in Norway, Denmark and Iceland were closed for holidays today.
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