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Europe: Stocks little changed as carmakers slide, miners rally

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[LONDON] European stocks were little changed, after swinging between gains and losses, as rising commodity producers offset declines in auto-related shares.

Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc added more than 2 per cent, pushing miners higher. A gauge of carmakers fell to a five-week low as HSBC Holdings Plc downgraded the auto sector to underweight from neutral. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV tumbled 6.7 per cent after Exane BNP Paribas cut its rating on the company to the equivalent of sell, saying a bubble in US automotive leasing may end.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Indexwas virtually unchanged at the close of trading, after climbing as much as 1.2 per cent and falling as much as 0.4 per cent. European shares have gone almost a month without closing at least one per cent higher, signaling a lack of triggers to send shares to further gains.

"It still seems like what happens generally is that Europe gets out of bed, feels alright in terms of risk appetite, then the US opens and gains flatten out," said William Hobbs, head of investment strategy at the wealth-management unit of Barclays Plc in London.

"A lot of the investor pessimism seems to be born out of the US at the moment, whether it be China or concerns over recession."

While the Stoxx 600 staged a 16 per cent rally from its February low, it has lost momentum since an April 20 peak as concerns about slowing growth in China and the US, and worries over central-bank policies resurfaced amid mixed earnings reports.

"The market is very volatile, with very sharp moves," said Michael Woischneck, who oversees about 300 million euros (S$466 million) at Lampe Asset Management in Dusseldorf, Germany.

"It will be interesting when we can break out from the volatility. If we could do that, we could see new highs for this year. For now, there is uncertainty."

The Swiss Market Index and Germany's DAX Index reversed earlier advances to slide at least 0.2 per cent, as exchanges there reopened after a holiday.

Among other shares active on corporate news, Vodafone Group Plc rose 1.5 per cent after reporting quarterly sales growth that beat estimates.

Taylor Wimpey Plc gained 4.7 per cent after the UK homebuilder said it plans to pay a special dividend in July 2017 and increase its regular payout as it generates excess cash.

BLOOMBERG