German Stocks Little Changed as ADP Data Beat Forecasts

German stocks were little changed after a private report showed U.S. companies in December boosted payrolls more than forecast, offsetting separate data showing exports rose in Europe’s biggest economy less than predicted.

RWE AG and EON SE followed European utilities lower. Kion Group AG lost 2 percent as its biggest shareholder sold a stake in the forklift maker to institutional investors. Celesio AG jumped to its highest price since May 2010 after a report that McKesson Corp. may increase its offer for the drug distributor. K+S AG climbed 5.5 percent after Kepler Cheuvreux raised its recommendation on the potash producer.

The DAX Index retreated 0.1 percent to 9,497.84 at the close of trading in Frankfurt, paring an earlier decline of as much as 0.4 percent. The equity benchmark rallied 25 percent in 2013 as the European Central Bank pledged to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period and better-than-forecast data signaled a recovery in the U.S. economy. The broader HDAX Index also dropped 0.1 percent today.

“I’m very happy with the ADP number,” said Manish Singh, who helps oversee $2 billion as head of investments at Crossbridge Capital in London. “I expect a good non-farm payrolls number on Friday, maybe 225,000. If the data is strong, the Fed will not be rushed to cut more stimulus, though the market may be.”

Companies in the U.S. increased payrolls by 238,000 in December, the ADP Research Institute’s figures showed. The median forecast of 36 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 200,000 advance. Firms hired a net 215,000 in November, the most in a year. The Labor Department on Friday will publish data on payrolls and the unemployment rate for December.

Fed Meeting

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last meeting in December after European markets close today. The Federal Open Market Committee decided at that meeting to start reducing its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion from January.

“The FOMC minutes will provide clarity on how much of a consensus there was for the decision to start tapering,” Crossbridge Capital’s Singh said. “They will tell us what the Fed thinks of the economy.”

The volume of shares changing hands in DAX-listed companies was 27 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

German Exports

German exports rose 0.3 percent in November, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. That missed the 0.8 percent increase predicted by economists in a Bloomberg survey. Imports fell 1.1 percent in the same month, compared with the median forecast of a 0.7 percent gain.

EON, Germany’s biggest utility, lost 0.8 percent to 13.07 euros and RWE, the second largest, slid 2.1 percent to 25.12 euros. A gauge of utilities posted the second-worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Kion slipped 2 percent to 30.14 euros. Superlift Holding Sarl, which is owned by investment funds advised by affiliates of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and KKR & Co., sold 10.7 million shares in Kion for about 315 million euros ($428 million).

Celesio AG jumped 9.3 percent to 24.50 euros after Dow Jones reported that McKesson Corp. may increase its offer for the drug distributor to 25 euros per share. San Francisco-based McKesson had said in October it would buy the 50.01 percent stake in Celesio held by Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH for 23 euros a share, and begin a tender offer for the remaining publicly traded shares at the same price.

The offer is conditional upon support from shareholders representing 75 percent of Celesio’s stock. The deadline to tender stock in the offer is midnight Frankfurt time tomorrow.

Potash Price

K+S gained 5.5 percent to 23.14 euros. Kepler raised its recommendation on the shares to buy from reduce, similar to sell, saying it expects potash prices to increase in the coming months. The price of the nutrient fell last year after OAO Uralkali on July 30 withdrew from a joint venture in Belarus.

It is a “matter of time” before Uralkali abandons its volume-over-price strategy, which caused the plunge in potash prices since July, according to Kepler.

SAP AG added 1.7 percent to 62.55 euros as UBS AG upgraded the world’s biggest maker of business-management software to buy from neutral. The brokerage said it expects rapid growth in the company’s cloud-computing business in the fourth quarter, with a modest increase in software licenses.

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