European stocks near seven-year high ahead of Eurogroup meeting

Greek stocks fall as Europe’s finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss financing for the region’s most indebted state

European stocks traded near a seven-year high, while Greek shares fell on skepticism that a debt agreement is within reach.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.1 per cent to 376.58 at 1:05 p.m. in London following a drop of as much as 0.3 per cent.

Greece's ASE Index lost 3.7 per cent after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with Deutschlandradio that weekend discussions aimed at identifying common ground failed to make sufficient progress. Europe's finance ministers are meeting again in Brussels on Monday to discuss financing for the region's most indebted state.

"Greece is what people are fearing the most," said Teis Knuthsen, chief investment officer at Saxo Bank A/S's private- banking unit in Hellerup, Denmark. "I would treat any decline as temporary -- you can worry all you like about market levels but the momentum is still there."


Greek lenders slid the most in the Stoxx 600 on Monday, with Piraeus Bank SA, Eurobank Ergasias SA and Alpha Bank AE down more than 8 per cent. The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands was 28 per cent lower than the 30-day average. The US market is closed for a holiday.

The Stoxx 600 closed at its highest level since November 2007 on Friday, completing a second week of gains as European leaders signaled some willingness to compromise on bailout terms for Greece.

The ASE rallied 11 per cent to a two-month high in the period, pushing Italian and Spanish shares higher.

At the same time, a report showing that the German economy accelerated twice as fast as economists had forecast pushed the DAX Index to a record and helped it surpass 11,000 on an intraday basis. The DAX slipped 0.3 per cent on Monday.

Actelion forecast

Among shares moving on corporate news, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc dropped 0.9 per cent as Keefe Bruyette and Woods Inc. said the lender may have to set aside £10 billion in additional conduct costs.

Hunting lost 8.8 per cent after the energy company forecast lower activity and declined to provide a 2015 forecast.

Altice SA rose 3.5 per cent and Bouygues SA added 3.3 per cent after people familiar with the matter said Patrick Drahi's company is stepping up plans for a potential takeover of mobile carrier Bouygues Telecom.

SABMiller climbed 2.1 per cent after a report that a consortium led by 3G Capital Partners is considering a bid for the brewer. Conwert Immobilien Invest SE jumped 9.4 percent after Deutsche Wohnen AG, Germany’s second-largest residential landlord, said it will bid for its Austrian competitor. The Austrian stock-benchmark gauge rose 0.6 per cent after opening late because of a technical issue.