European Stocks Are Little Changed Before U.S. GDP Report


European stocks were little changed, after falling to a four-week low, as investors awaited data on U.S. gross domestic product to gauge the outlook for interest rates in the world’s largest economy. U.S. stock-index futures were also little changed, while Asian shares fell.

Total SA added 0.9 percent following a report that it may sell a stake in the Gulf of Mexico’s Tahiti oil field. Air France-KLM Group dropped 2.2 percent after the board said pilot demands don’t fit with its plan for a low-cost model. J Sainsbury Plc lost 2.4 percent as Barclays Plc cut its price estimate for the shares. A gauge of retail companies fell the most of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

The Stoxx 600 climbed 0.1 percent to 341.85 at 10:58 a.m. in London, after earlier rising as much as 0.3 percent and falling as much as 0.5 percent. The equity benchmark is heading for a 1.9 percent weekly drop, as investors assess the health of the euro-area economy and central bank stimulus policies. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.2 percent today after equities slid yesterday, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.9 percent.

“Stocks sold off hard yesterday so we are trying to stabilize before the U.S. GDP numbers come out,” Ion-Marc Valahu, a co-founder and fund manager at Clairinvest in Geneva, wrote in an e-mail. “That will most likely determine if we move lower again.”

The Nasdaq 100 yesterday plunged the most since April, as Apple Inc. led a selloff in technology shares. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell the most since July amid signs of worsening conflict in the Middle East and Russia.

Risk-Off Mode

“It doesn’t look like traders are betting on some kind of relief rally,” Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Hellerup, Denmark, said by telephone. “People are not willing to have a lot of risk on their books. There wasn’t any particular news yesterday that triggered the risk-off mode. It just kept on accelerating with technology stocks leading the decline because of Apple. Now we are going into the weekend and we are not seeing many people willing to take the risk.”

U.S. GDP grew 4.6 percent in the second quarter, more than the previous estimate of 4.2 percent released in August, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts before a Commerce Department report today.

Final figures will show the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer-sentiment index rose to 84.8 this month, the highest in more than a year, a separate survey projected.

In the U.K., lawmakers will vote today on whether to authorize airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq. Military action may start within days if the proposal is approved, a government official said.

Total (FP) Advances

Total rose 0.9 percent to 50 euros. Europe’s biggest refiner may sell a 17 percent stake in the Gulf of Mexico’s Tahiti oil field, which could fetch $1.5 billion to $2 billion, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Air France-KLM slid 2.2 percent to 7.46 euros. The airline’s board called on striking pilots to resume their duties, saying that demands for a single contract aren’t compatible with the low-cost model it is pursuing.

J Sainsbury retreated 2.4 percent to 251.9 pence. Barclays cut its price estimate for the supermarket by 18 percent to 300 pence, citing the likelihood of weak second-quarter like-for-like sales and the possibility of the company changing its profit guidance.


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