Europe Stocks Post Best Year Since 2009 Before U.S. DataSofia Horta e Costa
European stocks advanced, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting its biggest annual gain since 2009, amid shortened trading hours for New Year’s Eve before American consumer confidence and housing data.
SBM Offshore NV added 1 percent for its longest winning streak in two months. Real estate companies gained, with Land Securities Group Plc and Unibail-Rodamco SE increasing more than 1.5 percent. Banco Comercial Portugues SA dropped 1.3 percent for its worst two-day slump in almost six months.
The Stoxx 600 added 0.3 percent to 328.04 at 1:53 p.m. in London, extending its rise this year to 17 percent as the European Central Bank pledged to keep interest rates low for an extended period. The number of shares trading hands today in Stoxx 600 listed companies was 64 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
“It’s been a much better 2013 than 2012 in the economy and the financial markets,” Ken Wattret, chief euro-area market economist at BNP Paribas SA in London, wrote in a client note. “With a new year beckoning, is the improvement set to continue through 2014? We believe that 2014’s euro-area performance will again be heavily influenced by the course of action which the ECB pursues.”
National benchmark indexes rose in all but one of the nine western-European markets open today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.3 percent and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.5 percent. Exchanges in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Nordic countries were already closed for the year.
Global equities soared by more than $9.5 trillion in 2013 after central-bank stimulus helped the U.S. economy gain momentum and the euro area emerged from recession. The Stoxx 600 traded at 15.4 times its constituents’ projected earnings, up from 11.6 times at the beginning of 2013.
U.S. data at 10 a.m. New York time may show confidence among American consumers rebounded in December from a seven-month low. The Conference Board’s index probably increased to 76.2 from 70.4 a month earlier, according to the median economist projection in a Bloomberg survey.
Separate data also due after the close of European markets will probably show the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 U.S. cities increased 13.5 percent in October from a year earlier, while another report may show business activity in the world’s largest economy expanded at a slower pace this month, economists predicted.
A gauge of European carmakers jumped 37 percent this year, the biggest annual advance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600. An index tracking financial-services firms rose 35 percent for its largest gain in seven years, and media stocks rose the most since 1999. Every industry gauge increased in 2013 except a measure of mining companies, which slumped 13 percent.
SBM Offshore added 1 percent to 14.80 euros, its sixth day of gains and highest price in four weeks. The Dutch supplier of floating oil-production platforms traded at 10.9 times projected earnings, less than the 11.9 times average multiple for members of the Stoxx 600 Oil & Gas Index.
Land Securities rose 1.9 percent to 963.5 pence, while Unibail-Rodamco, Europe’s largest publicly traded property owner, climbed 1.6 percent to 186.25 euros. An index of European real estate linked stocks rose an eighth day today to a four-week high.
Debenhams Plc tumbled 12 percent to 73 pence, its lowest price since May 2012. The retailer said sales during the Christmas week missed its expectations and predicted pre-tax profit will drop about 26 percent to 85 million pounds ($141 million) for the first half of its financial year.
BCP dropped 1.3 percent to 16.6 euro cents. The Portuguese lender lost 8.9 percent since closing at its highest price in more than two years last week.