German Stocks Are Little Changed; MAN Shares Advance

German stocks were little changed as the European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged and Spain’s borrowing costs fell at the country’s first bond auction of the year.

Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG, Germany’s biggest lenders, gained more than 1 percent. MAN SE jumped 3.5 percent after Volkswagen AG offered to buy the rest of the truckmaker. Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA fell 2.6 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG lowered its recommendation on the stock.

The DAX Index slipped 0.2 percent to 7,708.47 at the close in Frankfurt. The gauge earlier climbed as much as 0.7 percent after ECB President Mario Draghi said the euro-area economy economy will slowly recover in 2013. The DAX has gained 1.3 percent this year as U.S. politicians agreed on a compromise budget. The broader HDAX Index also lost 0.2 percent today.

“Draghi’s view on the economy was upbeat considering the circumstances,” said Philippe Gijsels, head of fixed-income research at BNP Paribas Fortis in Brussels. “The reaction of the market is reasonably positive. Everybody wants to get into the market. People are waiting for a pullback, but that’s not materializing, so many investors are being forced to jump in.”

The number of shares changing hands on the DAX was 64 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days.

ECB Rates

ECB policy makers meeting in Frankfurt today left their benchmark rate at a record low of 0.75 percent, as predicted by 50 out of 55 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. They held the deposit and marginal lending rates at zero and 1.5 percent, respectively.

“We have signs that fragmentation is being gradually repaired,” Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt. “A gradual recovery should start” later this year as ECB measures work their way through the euro area’s economy.

Bank of England policy makers refrained from adding further stimulus to the U.K. economy. The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee led by Governor Mervyn King kept the target for quantitative easing at 375 billion pounds ($605 billion), matching the forecasts of all 39 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. They also held their key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent.

Spain overshot its maximum target at the first bond auction of the year. The nation aims to raise net debt issuance by 24 percent in 2013.

Overseas Shipments

In China, exports rose 14 percent in December from a year earlier, while imports increased 6 percent, the customs office said. The pickup in overseas shipments beat the 5 percent median estimate of 40 economists in a Bloomberg News survey and a 2.9 percent increase in November.

Deutsche Bank rose 1.2 percent to 37.16 euros and Commerzbank climbed 3.2 percent to 1.70 euros as shares of lenders advanced across Europe.

MAN jumped 3.5 percent to 86.94 euros. Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, will offer to buy out the rest of MAN’s shareholders, it said in a statement.

Germany’s largest carmaker already holds 75.03 percent of the voting rights and will seek a domination agreement. The remaining stake is worth 3.2 billion euros ($4.2 billion) based on yesterday’s closing price. Volkswagen added 1 percent to 173.30 euros.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, advanced 1 percent to 72.89 euros. BMW Group generated record sales in 2012, the company said. Sales rose 11 percent to 1.85 million vehicles in the year. The company said it aims to beat the record in 2013.

Fresenius Medical

Fresenius Medical Care lost 2.6 percent to 48.91 euros. Credit Suisse lowered its rating on the stock to neutral from outperform, meaning that investors should not buy more of the shares. Analyst Christoph Gretler reduced his estimate for earnings per shares in 2014 by 10 percent.

Dialog Semiconductor Plc surged 6 percent to 15.68 euros after the company reported preliminary fourth-quarter revenue of $268 million. That exceeded the average analyst estimate of $226 million.

Suedzucker AG dropped 5.7 percent to 29.20 euros after the maker of sugar, starch and bakery additives reported third-quarter profit of 112.6 million euros, missing analysts’ estimates of 117.7 million euros.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.