Thursday, 14 March 2013

European Stocks Climb to 4 1/2-Year High Before Summit

By Tom Stoukas - Mar 14, 2013 12:10 PM GMT+0400

European stocks advanced to a 4 1/2-year high as the region’s policy makers begin a two-day summit in Brussels. U.S. index futures rose while Asian shares were little changed.
HeidelbergCement AG added 2.4 percent as debt declined more than expected. Royal Boskalis Westminster NV (BOKA), the world’s largest dredging company, rallied 2.7 percent as full-year profit beat analysts’ estimates.
European Stocks Climb to 4 1/2-Year High Before Brussels Summit A financial trader walks across the trading floor inside the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Frankfurt. Photographer: Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg
March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Jan IJspeert, chief executive officer of BAE Batterien GmbH, discusses business performance, growth and Germany's competitive position. He speaks with David Tweed in Berlin on Bloomberg Television's "Countdown." (Source: Bloomberg)
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) advanced 0.4 percent to 296.49 at 8:07 a.m. in London, the highest level since June 2008. The benchmark measure has risen 6 percent this year as data on U.S. payrolls and Chinese exports bolstered confidence in the global economic recovery.
“Markets are grinding higher, pushed by better-than- expected U.S. data resisting fiscal headwinds,” said Witold Bahrke, who helps oversee $55 billion as senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S in Copenhagen. “On the other hand, anxiety is growing steadily, primarily regarding euro-zone developments. Nobody is expecting anything concrete from the summit, but there is the potential for surprises, for example on Cyprus.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell less than 0.1 percent today, and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures advanced 0.2 percent.

European Summit

European leaders start a two-day Brussels summit today, with euro-area finance ministers meeting separately tomorrow to discuss a bailout for Cyprus. Policy makers are loosening austerity measures as the recession and mounting unemployment in southern Europe overtake the debt crisis as the region’s biggest headache.
A Labor Department report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington may show that U.S. initial jobless claims increased to 350,000 in the week ended March 9, from 340,000 the previous period, according to the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey.
HeidelbergCement rose 2.4 percent to 55.88 euros after the German cement maker said debt declined more than expected last year as improved earnings covered dividends and repayments. Borrowings declined 700 million euros ($907 million) to 7 billion euros, the company said today. Analysts had predicted 7.4 billion euros, on average.
Boskalis Westminster gained 2.7 percent to 34.25 euros. The company reported 2012 net income of 250 million euros, beating analysts’ estimates of 242 million euros. Revenue rose 11 percent to 3.1 billion euros.

Generali Loss

Assicurazioni Generali SpA increased 4.4 percent to 12.72 euros even after Italy’s biggest insurer reported a fourth- quarter loss.
Home Retail Group Plc (HOME) surged 16 percent to 153.6 pence. The U.K. retailer raised its full-year profit estimate as sales beat expectations at Homebase home-improvement stores and the Argos catalog chain in the last two months of the fiscal year.
OC Oerlikon Corp. (OERL) fell 2 percent to 12.40 Swiss francs. The world’s largest maker of textile machinery will appoint a new chief executive officer to replace Michael Buscher, who led the company through a reorganization since joining in 2010.
Chief Financial Officer Juerg Fedier will act as interim CEO, the Pfaeffikon, Switzerland-based company said, without giving any reason for the switch.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at