European Stocks Are Little Changed; Balfour Beatty Jumps

European stocks closed little changed after fluctuating between gains and losses more than a dozen times as Japan’s economy expanded more than initially estimated while growth in Chinese exports slumped.

Balfour Beatty Plc jumped 4.8 percent after naming a new chief for its U.K. construction business and winning a contract. Severn Trent Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest publicly traded water company, retreated the most in almost a year after rejecting a takeover offer. Anglo American Plc and Rio Tinto Group led mining companies lower as copper slid for a third day in London trading.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 295.22 at the close of trading. The benchmark gauge earlier climbed as much as 0.3 percent after Standard & Poor’s upgraded its outlook on the U.S.’s AA+ credit rating to stable from negative, citing receding fiscal risks.

“After a strong session we see consolidation with volumes below average,” Soeren Steinert, who helps manage about $24 billion as associate director for equities trading at Quoniam Asset Management GmbH in Frankfurt, said in an e-mail. “There is no company news that could influence individual stock prices and it seems that there is little interest in the extremely strong Japanese session and the macroeconomic figures from the country.”

The number of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 7.4 percent less than the 30-day average today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Fed Speculation

The Stoxx 600 has retreated 5 percent since May 22 amid speculation the Federal Reserve will reduce stimulus as the U.S. economy strengthens. Reports in America this week may show retail sales climbed in May and business inventories increased in April after data on June 7 showed a gain in payrolls, according to Bloomberg surveys of economists.

Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said today that inflation below the central bank’s 2 percent target warrants prolonging the “aggressive” use of bond buying to spur growth and bring down unemployment.

In Japan, gross domestic product expanded an annualized 4.1 percent in the first quarter, compared with a preliminary calculation of 3.5 percent, the Cabinet Office said in Tokyo today. Consumer confidence climbed to the highest level since 2007 in May, separate data showed. The Topix index jumped 5.2 percent for the biggest gain in two years.

China Exports

China’s export growth plummeted to a 10-month low in May and imports unexpectedly fell as a crackdown on fake trade invoices exposed weakness in global demand. Overseas sales rose 1 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said on June 8, trailing 35 of 38 analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey and down from April’s 14.7 percent pace. Imports dropped 0.3 percent.

National benchmark indexes fell in 12 of the 18 western European markets open today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC 40 each slipped 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.6 percent. Greece’s ASE sank 4.7 percent as the government said the sale of Depa SA, the Greek state natural gas supplier, received no bids.

Balfour Beatty climbed 4.8 percent to 226.3 pence, the biggest gain in a year. Britain’s largest building company appointed Nick Pollard to lead its U.K. construction business and won a contract worth more than 110 million pounds ($171 million) to erect the 43-floor Providence Tower in London. The company also said it plans to close three U.K. sites.

ITV Increases

ITV Plc increased 3.7 percent to 134.2 pence, the biggest advance since February. Liberum Capital upgraded its price estimate on the U.K. broadcaster’s shares to 200 pence from 155 pence, citing “structurally resilient” free-to-air television advertisements and forecast growth in online and content revenue.

Severn Trent slid 6 percent to 1,946 pence, the largest decline since June 20, 2012. Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. and its partners in the LongRiver group abandoned a 5.3 billion-pound offer for Severn Trent after the U.K. water utility declined to negotiate.

“The Severn Trent board has shown no interest in discussing our pre-conditional offer with us,” Borealis Chief Executive Officer Michael Rolland said in a statement today. “In the absence of any such engagement, there will be no further proposal from the consortium.”

A gauge of basic-resources companies fell the most among the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600, dropping 1.4 percent.

Anglo American

Anglo American and Rio Tinto retreated 2.8 percent to 1,421.5 pence and 2.4 percent to 2,740 pence, respectively. Lonmin Plc, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, slipped 3.2 percent to 287.6 pence. Antofagasta Plc, the Chilean copper producer, declined 1.2 percent to 911 pence.

Copper for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange slid as much as 1.4 percent to $7,126.50 a metric ton.

Petroleum Geo-Services ASA dropped 6.5 percent to 79 kroner, the biggest slide since November 2011. Norway’s second-largest surveyor of underwater oil and gas fields said it’s seeing ‘low activity’ in the Gulf of Mexico.

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