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19.12.2011 18:32

European stocks close:

Most European stocks declined, following two weeks of losses for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as euro-area policy makers discussed channeling additional financial support through the International Monetary Fund. Euro-area finance ministers held a conference call today to discuss channeling 200 billion euros ($260 billion) in additional funding through the International Monetary Fund and the mechanics of a so-called fiscal compact that were agreed upon in the Dec. 9 European Union summit accord, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The European Central Bank will offer unlimited funding against collateral for as long as three years in a tender tomorrow in President Mario Draghi’s latest attempt to get cash flowing around the financial system. It’s up to lenders to decide what to do with the money, he told the Financial Times in an interview.

Fitch lowered France’s credit outlook and put the grades of nations including Spain and Italy on review for a downgrade, citing the euro area’s failure to find a “comprehensive solution” to its debt crisis. Fitch placed Spain, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Ireland and Cyprus on a “Rating Watch Negative” review, which it expects to complete by the end of January, according to a statement.

National benchmark indexes declined in 12 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX Index slipped 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index sank 0.4 percent.

SGL Carbon declined 9.5 percent to 40.99 euros after Chief Financial Officer Juergen Muth told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that the German maker of carbon and graphite products regards a takeover by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and the carmaker’s heiress Susanne Klatten as unlikely. BMW and Klatten together hold about 44 percent in SGL.

BP Plc, Europe’s second-biggest oil producer, dropped 1.8 percent to 437.65 pence. Oil and gas companies were among the worst performers of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.

Vedanta Resources Plc dropped 3.6 percent to 1,046 pence. Antofagasta Plc slid 1.9 percent to 1,150 pence and Xstrata Plc lost 1.4 percent to 956.7 pence.

Copper futures dropped in London and New York as investors speculated that demand will ease after property prices fell in China, the world’s biggest consumer of industrial metals. In November, 49 big cities monitored in China posted house- price declines, the most this year, after the government affirmed plans to maintain property curbs.

Air Berlin rallied 8.3 percent to 2.50 euros after saying that Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi’s state-controlled airline, will pay 72.9 million euros to increase its stake in the German airline to 29.2 percent. Etihad will purchase 31.6 million new shares at Dec. 16’s closing price of 2.31 euros a piece, Air Berlin said in a statement. Etihad will keep the shares for at least two years and not increase its stake during that time.

Nestle climbed 2 percent to 52.20 Swiss francs as the world’s biggest food company limited declines on the Stoxx 600.

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