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21.12.2011 18:01

European stocks close:

European stocks fell for the first time in three days as lenders sought more funds from the European Central Bank than economists had predicted, reducing optimism that the debt crisis will be contained.

The Frankfurt-based ECB awarded 489 billion euros ($640 billion) in 1,134-day loans, more than economists’ median estimate of 293 billion euros in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB said 523 banks asked for the funds, which it will lend at the average of its benchmark rate over the term of the loans. They start tomorrow.

The banks borrowed enough cash to refinance almost two- thirds of the debt they have maturing next year amid concern that markets will remain frozen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government reduced its planned bond sales next year to 250 billion euros, compared with 270 billion euros proposed in the budget and 283 billion euros that it sold this year. The federal government will sell 170 billion euros in bonds and 80 billion euros in shorter maturities, the Frankfurt-based Federal Finance Agency said as it presented the provisional bond calendar for 2012 today.

The head of the world’s biggest bond fund said he sees a more than one-in-three chance that the euro area will break apart and trigger a financial crisis akin to the one that devastated the global economy in 2008.

National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (UKX) slid 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 1 percent.

SAP lost 6.1 percent to 39.92 euros, the largest decline since October 2009, and competitor Software AG fell 4.9 percent to 27.25 euros. Cap Gemini SA, a computer-services company, retreated 4.9 percent to 24.09 euros.

Oracle, the second-largest business-software maker, posted earnings before some costs in the quarter ended Nov. 30 of 54 cents a share, on revenue excluding certain items of $8.81 billion. Analysts had projected profit of 57 cents and sales of $9.23 billion, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, dropped 4.4 percent to 70.8 euro cents and France’s Societe Generale SA slid 3.4 percent to 16.63 euros. A gauge of banks in the Stoxx 600 slipped 0.7 percent.

Konecranes, the Finnish maker of container cranes, retreated 3.6 percent to 13.92 euros after saying it’s restructuring European operations and must cut 100 jobs.

21.12.2011 17:43

U.S. stocks fell

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