ECONOMY

Europe stocks little changed as investors await Greek debt talks

European stocks were little changed before a meeting between Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and his euro-area counterparts in Brussels.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.1 percent to 372.56 at 8:07 a.m. in London. Stocks climbed Tuesday amid investor optimism that Greece can reach an agreement on new bailout terms with its euro-region creditors.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble subsequently damped hopes of a compromise at today’s emergency meeting, saying there are no plans to discuss a new agreement. Still, the Mediterranean nation’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said there is “no way back” for his government, and he wants a new accord that won’t subject his people to more pain.

Greece is trying to drum up support for a 10 billion-euro ($11.3 billion) bridge plan to stave off a funding crunch and buy time to win an easing in austerity terms from creditors. Any deal would require a softening of Germany’s stance.

Among stocks moving on corporate news today, Norsk Hydro ASA jumped 4.5 percent after Europe’s third-biggest producer of aluminum posted a narrower net loss and higher-than-estimated revenue for the fourth quarter.

ING Groep NV rose 2.7 percent. The Dutch financial-services company plans to pay a dividend for the first time in almost seven years after repaying a state bailout, even as profit from its banking activities fell in the fourth quarter.

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc added 3.9 percent. The consumer-products maker plans a new cost-saving initiative to counter tough market conditions as fourth-quarter sales growth beat estimates.

Glencore Plc gained 0.7 percent and Lonmin Plc slid 4.9 percent. The mining and commodities trading company headed by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg said it will divest its 23.9 percent holding in the platinum producer to its own shareholders.

Tullow Oil Plc fell 1.5 percent. The Africa-focused U.K. explorer that’s lost half its value in a year swung to a loss in 2014 because of declining oil prices. It suspended its dividend.

Telenor ASA retreated 4 percent. The Nordic region’s largest phone operator forecast a margin of no more than 35 percent of sales for this year, compared with 35.4 percent in 2014.

[Bloomberg]