European Markets Subdued Ahead of G20 Meeting in Moscow

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By Geetha Pillai | February 15, 2013 7:18 PM EST

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange.

European shares reported mixed results in the opening minutes of trade ahead of the G20 summit, where a row over exchange rates is set to dominate discussions.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.1 percent to 1,162.4. The UK's FTSE 100 remained little changed while Germany's DAX fell 0.02 percent. France's CAC-40 slid 0.05 percent.

Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.03 percent and Spain's Ibex declined 0.2 percent.

Though the US jobless data surprised the markets in the previous session with a fall in unemployment claims, the eurozone economy provided a bleak picture of growth in the euro area countries. Figures released by Eurostat, the statistics agency, showed that the single currency region contracted 0.6 percent in the final three months of 2012.

In the UK, the retail sales figures for January are expected during the day as economists forecast a rebound in sales, despite the inclement weather which dented retail activity in December. Meanwhile UK rental costs have declined 0.3 percent in January, marking a third straight decline on the back of increase in mortgage approvals, according to a survey from LSL Property Services.

Most Asian bourses closed flat, except the Nikkei which dived on the back of negative corporate earnings as well as concerns on yen direction ahead of the G20 meeting in Moscow.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.2 percent and ended at 11,173.8 as the yen appreciated ahead of the G20 meeting. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.1 percent, falling from the new highs it had reached in the previous trading sessions. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.1 percent down.

South Korea's KOSPI remained little changed while Singapore's Straits Times lost 0.3 percent.

Equity markets in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam remain shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Major Movers in Asia 

In Tokyo, Rakuten and Yamaha Motors tumbled on weak earnings and Trend Micro declined 8 percent as the anti-virus software maker's net income fell 23 percent.

Toyota traded 2.6 percent down while Honda Motors declined 2.7 percent. Kirin Holdings was down 5.9 percent as Japan's largest beverage maker slashed outlook for the current fiscal year's operating profit.

In Sidney, Rio Tinto declined 2.3 percent to A$70.40 as the miner reported $3bn annual loss for 2012 as against the $5.83bn profit, the previous year. BHP Billiton traded 0.6 percent down.

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