German Stocks Close Little Changed; Bayer Shares Rise

German stocks closed little changed, as a late selloff pared gains on the benchmark DAX Index, amid a report that showed retail sales in the country unexpectedly increased, while concern grew that the euro-area debt crisis will deepen.

Bayer AG, Germany’s largest drugmaker, and EON SE paced advancing shares. RWE AG snapped three days of losses after selling its Net4Gas unit. Wirecard AG jumped to its highest price since it sold shares to the public in October 2000 as Baader Bank advised investors to buy the stock.

The DAX rose less than 0.1 percent to 7,795.31 in Frankfurt, paring an earlier advance of as much as 0.7 percent. The gauge completed a monthly increase of 0.7 percent. The DAX added 2.6 percent in the quarter as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a budget and American jobs data beat estimates. The broader HDAX Index added 0.2 percent today.

Retail sales in Europe’s largest economy gained 0.4 percent last month from January, when they surged a revised 3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. Economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast a decline of 0.6 percent. German unemployment unexpectedly rose in March, another report showed.

“In the stressful situation in Europe, Germany is an island of protection,” said Jacques Porta, who helps manage about $776 million at Ofi Gestion Privee in Paris. “It’s my preferred market in Europe. I’m overweighting German shares compared with other European markets.”

Cypriot Banks

In Cyprus, banks opened their doors today for the first time in almost two weeks, with new rules curbing access to cash preventing an initial panic to withdraw deposits. The Central Bank of Cyprus’s capital controls include a 300-euro ($383) daily limit on withdrawals and restrictions on transfers to accounts outside the country.

In the U.S., the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed above its record closing level.

Bayer advanced 1.6 percent to 80.47 euros, completing a 6.1 percent gain this month. A close at this price would be the highest for the stock in two decades.

EON rose 1.3 percent to 13.62 euros. Germany’s biggest utility plans to buy as much as 1.56 billion reais ($776 million) in shares of MPX Energia SA from billionaire Eike Batista making it the largest shareholder in the Brazilian company. Separately, the company said it sold its Hungarian gas units for 870 million euros ($1.12 billion) including debt.

RWE Deal

RWE climbed 1.2 percent to 29.08 euros. The country’s second-largest utility sold its Czech pipeline operator Net4Gas to Allianz SE and Borealis Infrastructure for almost 1.6 billion euros ($2 billion) to help curb debt.

Daimler AG, the world’s third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, slid 2 percent to 42.45 euros. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG lost 2.6 percent to 67.31 euros. A gauge of the automobile industry in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.2 percent, for the biggest decline among the 19 groups on the gauge.

SMA Solar Technology AG, Germany’s biggest solar-energy company by market value, slid 5.6 percent to 18.67 euros. The stock fell for a second day after SMA yesterday predicted a “tough year” for the industry.

Wirecard climbed 3.9 percent to 21.55 euros. Baader Bank started covering the shares of the provider of Internet-payment and processing services with a buy rating.

“That Wirecard is the only independent electronic-payment processing services company with a full banking license is a clear differentiating factor from the competition,” analyst Knut Woller wrote in a note.

ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG gained 2.2 percent to 27.85 euros. The broadcasting company said 2012 revenue rose 7.7 percent to 2.97 billion euros.

Suss MicroTec AG jumped 7.2 percent to 8.91 euros for the biggest gain since Jan. 7. The maker of equipment for the production of microelectronic devices said it received an order for bonding equipment. It did not disclose the financial details.

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