By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — European stocks trimmed gains on Monday after U.S. home sales unexpectedly declined in March, while bank shares rallied after Italy re-elected its president.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.10% gained 0.2% to close at 285.68, after trading as high as 287.87 during the session.
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The index dropped 2.5% last week after Chinese growth data missed expectations. Year-to-date, however, the index is up 2.1%.
“We’re going through a choppy period and markets are reacting to data as it comes in. The data we’ve seen today were slightly down compared to expectations,” said Peter Dixon, strategist at Commerzbank.
“The market is sensitive to growth stories, but this [move] looks a little overdone. There are bigger things to worry about and bigger numbers to react to. The simple truth is that markets are so concerned about growth, we’ve seen that over the last week or two, that anything that gives investors cause for concern will trigger a selloff,” he added.
Among notable movers in Europe, shares of Delhaize Group jumped 11% after the Belgian food retailer reported a 3.8% increase in first-quarter organic revenue growth.
Royal Philips Electronics NV /zigman2/quotes/204604645/delayed NL:PHIA +0.21% sank 5.2%, after the firm said it continues to see a slow first half of the year due to difficult market trends, particularly in Europe and the U.S.
The broader European stock markets curbed gains in the afternoon, after data from the U.S. showed existing-home sales unexpectedly declined 0.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million.
U.S. stocks traded lower on Wall Street.
Earlier in the day, most bourses in Europe had mirrored gains in Asia, where a statement from the Group of 20 major economies helped send the yen tumbling in the overnight session and boosted stock markets. The G-20 leaders refrained from criticizing Japan for policies that recently sent the yen to multiyear lows, which was widely interpreted as the international community offering its support for Tokyo’s monetary stimulus. See: Approval ratings for Japan PM jump as Abenomics takes hold .
Back in Europe, Italian shares posted solid gains after the Italian parliament over the weekend re-elected Giorgio Napolitano as president, ending weeks of uncertainty and sparking hopes for a more stable outlook.
“He has already called for the political parties to work together and is expected to push for a broad coalition government. We doubt that he will succeed and believe that he may soon call for new general elections instead. He now has the power to do that,” Danske Bank said in a note.
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Italy’s FTSE MIB index jumped 1.7% to 16,021.71. Shares of Banco Popolare SC added 4.5%, UniCredit SpA /zigman2/quotes/200769686/delayed IT:UCG -0.08% gained 2.7% and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA /zigman2/quotes/206161760/delayed IT:ISP +0.81% picked up 1.8%.
The yield on 10-year Italian government bonds fell 15 basis points to 4.06%, according to electronic trading platform Tradeweb.
Banks were also rising in France, with shares of Credit Agricole SA /zigman2/quotes/209264506/delayed FR:ACA +0.55% 1% higher and Société Générale SA /zigman2/quotes/206663756/delayed FR:GLE +1.50% rising 0.9%.
Investment bank Natixis /zigman2/quotes/207978364/delayed FR:KN +0.83% rose 4.3%, after Credit Suisse lifted the firm to outperform from neutral. The CAC 40 index /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.52% closed slightly higher at 3,652.13.
Germany’s DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.27% gained 0.2% to 7,478.11, breaking a six-day losing streak. ThyssenKrupp AG /zigman2/quotes/207409543/delayed DE:TKA -1.64% gained 0.6%, after the industrial conglomerate appointed two new board members.
Shares of miner Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO -0.15% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -2.03% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.84% slipped 1.1%. The firm said it appealed an Australian court ruling blocking plans to extend the life of one of its coal mines.
Shares of Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. lost 2.4%. The miner soared 27% on Friday, after one of the company’s founding shareholders said he was considering making a bid for the company.
Kazakhmys PLC /zigman2/quotes/208098927/delayed UK:KAZ +0.25% , which owns a 26% stake in ENRC, rallied 26% on Friday, but declined 8.3% in Monday’s action.