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29.03.2012 08:18

Stocks: Wednesday’s review

Asian stocks fell as better-than- expected U.S. consumer confidence failed to encourage buying after the region’s benchmark equities index yesterday gained the most in two months. Japanese shares led losses after the expiration of a deadline for getting dividend payments.

Nikkei 225 10,182.57 -72.58 -0.71%

Hang Seng 20,885.42 -161.49 -0.77%

S&P/ASX 200 4,343.51 +42.18 +0.98%

Shanghai Composite 2,284.88 -62.30 -2.65%

Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, lost 0.8 percent.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan’s third-largest bank by market value, paced losses among financial firms.

Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. slumped 16 percent in Hong Kong after China’s No. 2 electronics retailer missed profit estimates Li & Fung Ltd., the world’s biggest supplier of clothes and toys to retailers, slid 5.3 percent in Hong Kong on a plan to sell shares.

European stocks declined for a second day as European Central Bank Governing Council member Jens Weidmann said boosting the euro area’s rescue funds will not solve its debt crisis.

Euro-area finance ministers are likely to bolster Europe’s crisis funds to between 700 billion euros ($934 billion) and 9 billion euros at a meeting in Copenhagen on March 30. German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week gave her first indication that she is prepared to allow an increase in the firewall as Portugal and Spain show “fragility.”

Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, said in Tokyo today the euro area’s woes are “almost over” after a slow initial response by policy makers. The risk of debt contagion from Spain has decreased after measures taken to boost a firewall, he said.

France’s economy expanded less than expected in the fourth quarter. Gross domestic product grew 1.3 percent in the three months from a year earlier, instead of the 1.4 percent previously estimated, the national statistics office Insee said today.

The U.K.’s economy shrank more than previously forecast in the fourth quarter as output at services companies declined. GDP fell 0.3 percent from the third quarter, compared with a previous estimate of 0.2 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London.

FTSE 100 5,808.99 -60.56 -1.03%, CAC 40 3,430.15 -39.44 -1.14%, DAX 6,998.8 -80.10 -1.13%

JKX Oil & Gas plunged 14 percent to 157.75 pence after the company said it will not pay an interim dividend for 2011 and that financial resources over the next six months “will be stretched.”

Evraz Plc slid 5.5 percent to 359.80 pence. Russia’s largest steelmaker by output said net income dropped to $461 million last year from $486 million in 2010. That missed analysts’ estimate of $910 million.

Nokia Oyj rose 3.5 percent to 4.14 euros after Swedbank AB upgraded the stock to buy from neutral, saying the mobile phone maker will ship “decent” volumes this year.

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down for a second day, as a slump in crude oil drove energy producers lower and government data showed that orders for durable goods rose less than forecast.

Stocks fell today after a Commerce Department report showed that bookings for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 2.2 percent, less than projected after a revised 3.6 percent decline the prior month. Bernanke said unemployment remains too high, the economic recovery isn’t guaranteed and policy makers don’t rule out any further options to boost growth.

Dow 13,126.21     -71.52 -0.54%, Nasdaq       3,104.96       -15.39 -0.49%, S&P 500    1,405.54       -6.98         -0.49%

Energy and raw-material producers had the biggest losses in the S&P 500 among 10 groups, falling at least 1.2 percent. Crude oil for May delivery tumbled 1.8 percent to $105.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Exxon (XOM) slipped 0.9 percent to $85.86. Occidental Petroleum dropped 3.6 percent to $94.85.

Concern about the economy weighed on companies whose earnings are most-dependent on growth. Alcoa (АА) retreated 2.3 percent to $9.83. Caterpillar (САТ) lost 3.5 percent to $104.26.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. fell 10 percent to $2.92 in its biggest drop since August. The biotechnology company was cut to neutral from overweight at Piper Jaffray Cos., which cited the share price. The stock had gained 85 percent from March 16 through yesterday.

The KBW Bank Index rallied 1.1 percent as 22 of its 24 stocks gained. Bank of America (ВАС) increased 1.6 percent to $9.75 after the lender slumped 3.3 percent yesterday.

Medco Health Solutions Inc. added 3.2 percent to $71.20 after saying it expects its $29.1 billion takeover by Express Scripts Inc. to close as soon as next week. Express Scripts will probably get a Federal Trade Commission ruling on the deal as early as March 30, said two people familiar with the case who declined to be identified because the review is private. Express Scripts increased 1.3 percent to $53.89.

Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. surged 54 percent, the most in the Russell 1000 Index, to $23.77. The maker of the diabetes drug Bydureon rejected a $3.5 billion unsolicited takeover bid from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. earlier this year, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

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