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Asian stocks declined as sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. trailed estimates and on speculation China’s Premier Wen Jiabao will lower the target for economic growth this year.
Nikkei 225 9,595.57 +41.57 +0.44%
Hang Seng 21,380.99 -168.29 -0.78%
S&P/ASX 200 4,286.19 -6.93 -0.16%
Shanghai Composite 2,409.55 +5.97 +0.25%
Datang International Power Generation Co., a mainland utility, slid 1 percent in Hong Kong.
Samsung Electronics Co. dropped 3.1 percent in Seoul, leading technology stocks lower after Hewlett-Packard Co. forecast profit that missed estimates.
Mazda Motor Corp. sank 6.8 percent after Japan’s least profitable major carmaker said it plans to sell as much as 162.8 billion yen ($2 billion) in new shares.
Stocks in Europe declined for a third day as the European Commission said the region’s economy will shrink this year, dragged down by Italy and Spain.
The 17-nation euro economy will contract 0.3 percent in 2012, the European Commission said, abandoning a November forecast for a 0.5 percent growth. The commission expects the economy to shrink 1.3 percent in Italy and 1 percent in Spain.
In Germany, the Munich-based Ifo institute said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, climbed to 109.6 in February from 108.3 in January. That’s the fourth straight gain and the highest reading since July.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 12 of the 18 western European markets. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was little changed. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent.
Commerzbank fell 6.6 percent to 1.93 euros. Germany’s second-largest lender said it won’t pay a dividend for 2011 and will ask investors to swap hybrid capital instruments trading below face value for new shares, in a plan to boost its financial strength. The measures could increase the core Tier 1 capital by more than 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion), the bank said.
Deutsche Telekom AG lost 3 percent to 8.70 euros. The company forecast earnings will fall further this year after posting a 1.34 billion-euro quarterly net loss because of writedowns on T-Mobile USA and its Greek business.
Natixis SA, the investment-banking and asset-management unit of Groupe BPCE, jumped 8.4 percent to 2.53 euros. The bank said fourth-quarter profit fell 32 percent to 302 million euros after it wrote down Greek sovereign debt.
Cookson Group Plc, the world’s biggest maker of ceramic linings for metal smelters, advanced 4.7 percent to 670 pence. The company said it will sell its U.S. precious metals business to a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the highest level since May 2008, amid better-than-estimated housing and jobs market reports.
Stocks gained as applications for jobless benefits were unchanged in the week ended Feb. 18 at 351,000, the fewest since March 2008. A report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed that a gauge of home prices jumped 0.7 percent in December, beating estimates. The euro rose to the strongest level in more than 10 weeks against the dollar as a report showed German business confidence climbed.
Dow 12,984.69 +46.02 +0.36%, Nasdaq 2,956.98 +23.81 +0.81%, S&P 500 1,363.46 +5.80 +0.43%
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), which comprises 12 percent of the share-price weighted Dow, added 28 points to the index.
Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) rose 3.1 percent as the largest consumer-products company said it will cut 5,700 jobs.
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) soared 19 percent as it plans to raise as much as $770 million by selling 11 store sites and separating some smaller-format businesses.
A gauge of homebuilders in S&P indexes climbed 2.3 percent. KB Home added 4.4 percent to $11.75. PulteGroup advanced 4.8 percent to $8.73.
Vivus Inc. soared 78 percent to $18.73 after the company’s pill Qnexa won the backing of a regulatory panel, moving the drug a step closer to gaining U.S. approval as the first new obesity treatment in 13 years.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) dropped the most in the Dow, slumping 6.5 percent to $27.05. The U.S. computer manufacturer’s fiscal second-quarter profit forecast fell short of analysts’ estimates as consumers curtailed personal-computer purchases.
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