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04.05.2012 08:21

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Asian stocks fell, with a regional index heading for its first drop in eight days, as growth in China’s services industries slowed and employment reports from Europe to the U.S. and New Zealand fueled concern the global economy is faltering.

Nikkei 225 Closed

Hang Seng 21,225.33 -83.75 -0.39%

S&P/ASX 200 4,428.96 -6.95 -0.16%

Shanghai Composite 2,440.08 +1.64 +0.07%

Esprit Holdings Ltd., a clothier that counts Europe as its biggest market, slid 2.4 percent.

LG Display Co., the world’s No. 2 maker of liquid-crystal displays, sank 5.4 percent in Seoul after reports prosecutors investigating if it illegally obtained a rival’s technology searched its headquarters.

China Construction Bank Corp. and Bank of China Ltd. fell more than 3 percent in Hong Kong after Temasek Holdings Pte. sold shares in the Chinese lenders at a discount.

European stocks were little changed as company earnings were offset by comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi who said policy makers didn’t discuss lowering interest rates this week.

The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1 percent today as predicted by economists. Stocks erased gains after Draghi, speaking at a press conference in Barcelona, said the central bankers did not talk about cutting rates today.

National benchmark indexes slid in 10 of the 18 western- European markets today. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX slid 0.2 percent.

Porsche climbing 2.9 percent to 46.99 euros after the company, jointly owned by Volkswagen AG and the Porsche SE holding company, said first-quarter profit jumped 18 percent as deliveries of the revamped 911 and Panamera surged. The preferred shares of Volkswagen added 1.8 percent to 145 euros.

Societe Generale SA, which today reported earnings that topped analyst estimates, lost 4.2 percent to 17.27 euros and Commerzbank AG slid 3.6 percent to 1.54 euros.

Smith & Nephew Plc jumped 4 percent to 629.5 pence. Europe’s biggest maker of artificial hips and knees said first-quarter sales for its wound business added 5 percent to $240 million and revenue from surgical devices rose 3 percent.

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down a second day, amid disappointing service industries data and as investors awaited tomorrow’s jobs report to gauge the pace of growth at the world’s largest economy.

Equities fell today as service industries grew at a slower pace than projected in April, a sign the largest part of the economy may struggle to accelerate. The report overshadowed data showing that jobless claims fell to 365,000 in the week ended April 28, a one-month low. The Labor Department may say tomorrow that the U.S. added 160,000 jobs in April, compared with a gain of 120,000 the previous month.

Concern about growth also intensified after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the economic outlook has worsened, adding that policy makers didn’t discuss cutting the benchmark rate below its current record low of 1 percent.

Alcoa (АА) dropped 1.5 percent to $9.58. Hewlett- Packard (HPQ) decreased 3.1 percent, the most in the Dow average, to $24.48. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) lost 2 percent to $8.

Green Mountain plunged 48 percent, the biggest decline ever, to $25.87. It’s seeing more competition from private-label capsules that fit into Keurig machines and from Starbucks Corp., which plans to sell its own single-serve brewer later this year. The company has introduced the Vue coffee machine to help combat rivals when the main patents for its K-Cups expire in September.

Target, the second-biggest U.S. discount chain, slid 2.5 percent to $56.55. Macy’s, the second-biggest U.S. department- store chain, rose 0.7 percent to $41.55. Gap Inc., the largest U.S. apparel chain, slumped 1.6 percent to $28.67.

Prudential Financial Inc. tumbled 10 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $54.81. The second-biggest U.S. life insurer swung to a first-quarter loss as the value of the company’s derivative contracts fell.

Market Focus

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