European Stocks Stall as Chinese Data Curbs Enthusiasm


LONDON -- European equities have started the week on a flat to negative note Monday, putting a halt to the boost seen Friday after disappointing U.S. nonfarm-payroll numbers boosted hopes that the U.S. would implement new stimulus measures. Chinese trade data overnight hit the markets at the open, having showed that imports for the Asian powerhouse fell 2.6% in July, although this brought some hope that China would implement some new growth measures.

In Europe, peripheral countries are once again seeing some of the weakest performance, with Spain's IBEX (INDEX: ^IBEX) down 0.5%.

As always, the following price moves are based on this morning's European trading.

In Europe headline grabbers Glencore International (NASDAQOTH: GLNCY.PK) and Xstrata (NASDAQOTH: XSRAY.PK) are once again coming to the fore after Glencore announced it has made its final offer for the miner. The move comes as a last-ditch attempt to save the $80 billion merger after Glencore CEO Ivan Glesenberg said Friday he would increase his offer to 3.05 Glencore shares for each of Xstrata's if he could head the new company.

Today, Glencore defended this merger ratio, saying it represented a premium of 27% for a company in which Glencore already holds a 34% stake. However, Xstrata's board, which is using a different benchmark to calculate the ratio, said it actually represents only a 17.6% premium -- significantly lower than would be expected through a takeover. Today, Xstrata is trading 2.5% higher, while Glencore is down around 1%.

Elsewhere, Nokia (NYS: NOK) is continuing to benefit from last week's launch of its new mobile-phone range, climbing around 1.3% today. This follows some controversy surrounding the launch: A promotional video for the new handsets included video clips and still photos that, although they suggested such, were not actually taken from the new Lumia 920 smartphone. The company today appointed an ethics officer to conduct a review of how and why this misleading material was published.

On a more negative note, Spain's Bankia (NASDAQOTH: BNKXF.PK) is down 3.4% despite its parent company, BFA, winning temporary EU approval to receive a 4.5 billion euro recapitalization from the country's banking bailout. Last month the company posted a 4.45 billion euro first-half loss, leading many to expect a recapitalization request of this kind. Today the European Commission confirmed that Spanish authorities have committed to presenting a restructuring plan in time to allow the Commission to approve it by November this year.

As always, this morning's European news saw some winners and losers -- and perhaps some European buying opportunities. Indeed, legendary investor Warren Buffett has recently spent more than $1 billion buying the stock of a prominent European large cap.

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