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European stocks declined, paring the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s biggest rally in a week, after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded six euro-area countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal. Moody’s said it may strip the U.K. and France of their top Aaa ratings, citing the euro area’s crisis. Spain was downgraded to A3 from A1 yesterday, Italy to A3 from A2 and Portugal to Ba3 from Ba2, all with negative outlooks. Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta also had their ratings lowered.
German investor confidence increased in February more than economists had forecast, rising to a 10-month high. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, rose to 5.4 from minus 21.6 in January. Economists had predicted a gain to minus 11.8.
National benchmark indexes declined in all of the 18 western-European markets today except Italy. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.1 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index fell 0.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 Index lost 0.3 percent.
ThyssenKrupp dropped 3.8 percent to 21.07 euros after reporting a loss before interest and taxes of 33 million euros, compared with a profit of 261 million euros a year earlier.
TDC, Denmark’s largest phone company, slid 4.3 percent to 43.28 euros as its private-equity investors sold 750 million euros of stock in a sale arranged by Morgan Stanley.
Nokia rose 2.1 percent to 3.84 euros after Nokia Siemens Networks’ CEO, Suri, did not rule out an IPO of the joint venture between Siemens AG and Nokia, Capital magazine reported, citing an interview.
Deutsche Boerse added 2.4 percent to 49.94 euros after the German bourse operator posted a fourth-quarter profit amid lower costs and higher sales while announcing a stock buyback and dividend.
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