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Asian stocks fell, with a regional benchmark index dropping from a three-month high, ahead of a European summit on the region’s debt crisis and after the U.S. economy expanded less than forecast, hurting the earnings outlook for exporters.
Nikkei 225 8,793 -48.17 -0.54%
Hang Seng 20,230 -271.88 -1.33%
S&P/ASX 200 4,273 -15.63 -0.36%
Shanghai Composite 2,285 -34.08 -1.47%
James Hardie Industries SE (JHX), a building materials supplier that counts the U.S. as its biggest market, fell 1.7 percent in Sydney.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. slumped 15 percent after Japan barred the electronics maker from bidding on state contracts.
Advantest Corp. jumped 12 percent after the maker of memory-chip testers increased its dividend.
European stocks dropped the most in six weeks as Portuguese bonds sank amid concern a meeting of the region’s leaders will fail to draw a line under the sovereign- debt crisis.
European Union leaders gathered in Brussels for their first summit of 2012 as a deteriorating economy and the struggle to complete a Greek debt write off risk sidetracking efforts to stamp out the financial crisis. EU chiefs are discussing a German-led deficit-control treaty and the statutes of a 500 billion-euro ($661 billion) rescue fund to be set up this year.
The yield on Portugal’s 10-year bonds surged 217 basis points to a euro-era record of 17.39 percent today. Portuguese credit-default swaps also rose to a record, implying a 71 percent chance the government will default.
Euro-area confidence in the economic outlook improved less than forecast in January. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17-nation euro area rose to 93.4 from a revised 92.8 in December, the European Commission said today.
National benchmark indexes fell in every western European market today, except Greece and Iceland. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost 1.1 percent, Germany’s DAX slid 1 percent and France’s CAC 40 retreated 1.6 percent.
BNP Paribas tumbled 7.1 percent to 32.18 euros and Societe Generale plunged 6.5 percent to 19.71 euros. The proposed 0.1 percent French transaction tax will apply to share purchases, including high-frequency trading, and CDS transactions, from August. Sarkozy said he expects revenue of 1 billion euros from the tax.
Philips lost 2.2 percent to 15.24 euros as the world’s biggest lightbulb maker reported a 162 million-euro net loss in the fourth quarter. That was wider than analysts’ estimates for a loss of 25.8 million euros.
Hochtief sank 5.8 percent to 48.07 euros after saying it will report a wider loss for 2011 than it had previously anticipated because of additional charges in the fourth quarter at its Australian subsidiary and costs related to the departure of executives. The German builder said the net loss for 2011 will be about 160 million euros, compared with a previous estimate for a loss of about 100 million euros.
ThyssenKrupp AG and Salzgitter AG, Germany’s biggest steelmakers, fell 3.6 percent to 21.11 euros and 5.1 percent to 45.47 euros, respectively.
U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lower for a third day, as European leaders sparred with Greece over a second rescue program.
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos rejected reports of plans to appoint a European Union commissioner to oversee the nation’s budget, citing “national dignity.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Greek debt-swap talks with private bondholders are “going in the right direction” and the issue should be settled in the next few days.
Bank of America (ВАС) dropped 3 percent to $7.07 after Goldman Sachs cut its recommendation for the shares to “neutral” from “buy.”
Gannett tumbled 6.9 percent to $14.17. Revenue from the publishing division, the largest unit, declined 5.3 percent as advertising and circulation fell. The newspaper industry overall has continued to lose ad business to Internet companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.
Staples Inc. declined 4.9 percent to $15.23. The world’s largest office products company was cut to “sell” from “neutral” by Goldman Sachs, which cited a “tough” outlook for the global printing segment.
Measures of telephone and technology companies in the S&P 500 rallied. Apple added 1.3 percent to $453.01. Microsoft (MSFT) gained 1.3 percent to $29.61. Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) rose 1.1 percent to $37.61.
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