Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- European stocks gained on their first trading day this year, following the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s first annual loss since 2008, as a measure of German manufacturing beat estimates and a gauge of chemical makers rose. Asian shares retreated.
Siemens AG increased 1.1 percent for one of the biggest contributions to the Stoxx 600’s advance.
The Stoxx 600 rose 0.4 percent to 245.59 at 10:43 a.m. in London. The U.S. and U.K. markets are closed today for the New Year’s holiday. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index didn’t trade, while the MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index slipped 0.3 percent.
“On the first day of the year, a lot of investors, having cleaned their portfolios, have liquidity to invest,” said Arnaud Scarpaci, a fund manager at Agilis Gestion SA in Paris, which oversees about $84 million. “Germany can be seen as a safe haven because it has stronger growth than other countries. People are investing in industries with a lot of visibility, such as utilities.”
A measure of German manufacturing climbed to 48.4 in December, beating the average economist estimate for a reading of 48.1. The purchasing managers’ index compiled by Markit had a reading of 47.9 in November.
European stocks climbed in the last week of 2011 as reports from the U.S. showed the recovery in the world’s largest economy is gathering pace and as optimism grew that euro-area policy makers will contain the debt crisis. The second straight week of gains helped trim last year’s loss to 11 percent.
The index entered a bear market in August and had its worst third quarter since 2002, dropping 17 percent, as U.S. leaders wrangled over cutting the deficit and euro-area policy makers remained divided on their response to the debt crisis.
Some 157 billion euros ($203 billion) in debt will mature in the 17-member euro area in the first three months of 2012, according to UBS AG. National leaders have pledged to draft a stricter rulebook for controlling government spending. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in Berlin on Jan. 9 to work out the details.
In her New Year’s address, Merkel said she expects turbulence in 2012 as she does “everything” to save the euro and end the debt crisis. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said in his New Year’s message that the country faces a difficult year and must continue efforts to stay in the euro.
In the U.S., the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged last year. The benchmark gauge lost 0.04 points to 1,257.6 in 2011, its smallest annual change since 1947.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 14 of the 15 western European markets that opened today. Germany’s DAX Index added 1.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 Index gained 0.7 percent.
U.S. Payrolls Report
A report this week will probably show that hiring in the U.S. accelerated in December for a second month, a sign that the country’s improving labor market will bolster consumer spending in early 2012, economists said. Payrolls climbed by 150,000 workers after rising 120,000 in November, according to the median forecast of 62 economists in a Bloomberg News survey before the Labor Department release on Jan. 6.
Another report this week may show manufacturing picked up in the U.S., economists said.
Siemens, Henkel Climb
Siemens, Europe’s largest engineering company, added 1.1 percent to 74.75 euros. A gauge of chemical makers increased 1 percent, with the preferred shares of Henkel AG, the maker of industrial adhesives and Persil washing powder, increasing 1.7 percent to 45.34 euros.
ThyssenKrupp, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, jumped 3.8 percent to 18.39 euros.
RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, advanced 1.3 percent to 27.51 euros. The company is among stocks on Cheuvreux’s German selected list for 2012. Suedzucker AG gained 1.2 percent to 24.95 euros. The company also appeared on Cheuvreux’s list.
Sunways surged 23 percent to 1.90 euros, its largest advance in more than six months. China’s LDK Solar Co. said it intends to take over the company. Sunways said LDK will buy a 33 percent stake and has offered to purchase the remaining equity for 1.90 euro per share. Q-Cells SE rallied 4.8 percent to 54.3 euro cents.
SolarWorld AG climbed 1.5 percent to 3.30 euros as Chief Executive Officer Frank Asbeck told Euro am Sonntag that the company will meet its full-year target of more than 1 billion euros in sales. Asbeck described fourth-quarter sales as “pleasantly good.”
Veolia Environnement Climbs
Veolia Environnement SA added 1.3 percent to 8.58 euros. The company has drawn interest for its U.K. water business from bidders including Allianz SE and Canada’s Borealis pension fund, the Sunday Times reported, without citing anyone.
Enel SpA climbed 1 percent to 3.17 euros. Terna SpA jumped 3.8 percent to 2.70 euros. Mediobanca SpA said that Italy’s new regulatory framework for electricity transport and distribution tariffs is overall positive.
Icade SA slipped 1.9 percent to 59.66 euros. Groupama SA, the French insurer hurt by Greek sovereign-debt losses and declining stock holdings, said its board agreed to merge its stake in Silic SA with Caisse des Depots et Consignations’ Icade unit.
--Editors: Will Hadfield, Srinivasan Sivabalan
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