European Stocks Are Little Changed; Lagardere Falls

European stocks climbed as mining shares rallied and Alcoa Inc. began the U.S. earnings season with profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group, the world’s largest mining companies, advanced at least 3.5 percent. Repsol SA increased the most in a month after saying it discovered natural gas in Algeria. Lagardere SCA lost the most in four months after selling its stake in European, Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent to 288.07 at the close of trading. The gauge yesterday rebounded from the biggest three-day selloff since July as German industrial output increased more than forecast. The measure has gained 3 percent this year as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget and data fueled optimism the world’s biggest economy is recovering.

“It’s very much the U.S. first but Europe not that far behind,” Kevin Gardiner, head of investment strategy for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Barclays Plc’s wealth-management unit in London, told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television. “Although the euro zone itself is not growing very quickly, if the global economy is growing OK, that’ll help the European exporters and the big multinationals in European exchanges to do pretty well too.”

The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 18 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Earnings

Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, late yesterday posted first-quarter earnings excluding an income-tax benefit and other one-time items of 11 cents a share, beating the 8 cent-average analyst forecast. Earnings at companies in the S&P 500 Index may drop 1.8 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

In China, the consumer price index rose 2.1 percent in March from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That compares with the 2.5 percent median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey and a 3.2 percent gain in February.

German exports fell in February more than economists forecast. Overseas shipments, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, dropped 1.5 percent from January, when they gained 1.3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists forecast a 0.3 percent decline, according to the median of 15 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

National benchmark indexes climbed in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.6 percent, France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.1 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index slipped 0.3 percent.

U.K. Output

U.K. manufacturing rose twice as much as economists forecast in February. Factory output increased 0.8 percent from January, when it fell a revised 1.9 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median forecast of 29 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a gain of 0.4 percent. Overall industrial output rose 1 percent in February, also exceeding the estimate of economists.

BHP added 3.5 percent to 1,944 pence and Rio Tinto rallied 4.8 percent to 3,135 pence as copper prices rose 2.3 percent in London. Kazakhmys Plc jumped 5.6 percent to 393.5 pence.

A gauge of commodity stocks climbed 3.3 percent for the best performance among the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600, after dropping 4 percent last week.

The recent share-price weakness among U.K. mining companies was driven by investor concern about China tightening credit and the U.S. Federal Reserve ending its stimulus program and represents a buying opportunity, UBS AG analysts led by Myles Allsop wrote, citing signs of improving demand.

Aurubis, Repsol

Aurubis AG, the second-largest refined copper producer, gained 6 percent to 48.35 euros, its biggest advance since July 19, after Chief Executive Officer Peter Willbrandt said orders in the U.S. are rebounding and European demand is slowly improving.

Repsol SA advanced 3 percent to 16.53 euros after spokesman Kristian Rix said the Spanish company encountered a 50-meter column of gas in the Sud-Est Illizi block in Algeria.

An index of banking shares was the second-best performer on the Stoxx 600. The U.K.’s Barclays Plc climbed 3.2 percent to 286 pence, Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group AG added 2.2 percent to 24.89 Swiss francs and Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG added 3.1 percent to 31.12 euros.

Lagardere slipped 2.6 percent to 27.79 euros after the Paris-based media company sold 61 million shares, or a 7.4 percent stake, in EADS for about 2.3 billion euros ($3 billion). EADS slid 2.8 percent to 37.62 euros.

Adecco SA, the biggest supplier of temporary workers, retreated 1.8 percent to 49.49 francs. Credit Suisse downgraded the shares to neutral from outperform, citing a slowdown in the U.S. and challenging market conditions in Europe for staffing companies.

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