Global stocks changed amid summit
Global stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index near a 4 1/2year high, as European Union leaders eased constraints on national budgets amid a deepening euro-area recession. U.S. index futures were also little changed, while Asia shares rose.
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc posted the worst performance in the Stoxx 600 after forecasting 2013 revenue lower than current market estimates. Vivendi SA ended a five-day rally after halting the planned sale of its Brazilian phone and Internet unit, GVT. Ingenico (ING) SA fell to its lowest in three weeks as Safran SA's Morpho plans to sell part of its stake. Rentokil (RTO) Initial Plc surged after saying 2012 finished strongly.
An employee leans on a glass wall above the main atrium of the London Stock Exchange Group Plc's (LSE) headquarters in London.
The Stoxx 600 fell 0.1 percent to 298.23 at 9:30 a.m. in London. The gauge is still heading for a 0.9 percent gain this week, on course for a fourth straight weekly advance, its longest winning streak since December. The benchmark has risen 6.6 percent this year as data on U.S. payrolls and Chinese exports bolstered confidence in the global economic recovery and central banks around the world continued stimulus measures.
"There still is appetite for stocks," said Guillaume Duchesne, an equity strategist at BGL BNP Paribas SA in Luxembourg. "But, after the impressive performance of the past weeks and months, the rally is seeing a bit of fatigue. U.S. economic figures have been good, but there is the need for the market to take a pause. With the expiries today, it's best not to have any bad news."
Stock moves may be influenced by the expiration of futures and options contracts today, a process known as witching. The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands was 17 percent greater than the average of the past 30 days, according to data
The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended the longest rally since 1996 yesterday. Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 0.1 percent, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.5 percent.
European Union leaders endorsed "structural" budgetary assessments, using code for granting countries such as France, Spain and Portugal extra time to bring down deficits. Still, balanced budgets remained the goal and there was no talk of large-scale spending programs or bond issues.
"If there is too much austerity, there will be too much unemployment," French President Francois Hollande said at an EU summit in Brussels late yesterday. "Flexibility is necessary if we want to make growth the priority."
European political chiefs also paved the way for finance ministers to wrangle a rescue for Cyprus today as the euro area seeks progress toward a bailout that's been batted about for nine months.
"I can't imagine that we'll let the weekend go by without resolving the Cyprus problem," Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean- Claude Juncker said early today after euro leaders met midway through the two-day summit in Brussels. EU gathering ends today with a 27-nation discussion of foreign policy, to be followed by a euro-area ministers' meeting.