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11.05.2012 06:37

Stocks: Thursday's review

Asian stocks swung between gains and losses as forecasts for higher earnings by companies including Toyota Motor Corp. offset concern Greece will be forced out of the euro and signs China’s economy is slowing.

Bank of Communications Co. fell 1.3 percent in Hong Kong, pacing declines among Chinese lenders after a report mainland trade growth slowed.

LG Display Co., a maker of liquid-crystal displays that depends on Europe for about 18 percent of sales, slipped 2.4 percent in Seoul.

Toyota, Asia’s biggest carmaker, climbed 0.8 percent in Tokyo after saying profit this fiscal year may more than double.

European stocks rose, erasing an earlier decline, as companies from Deutsche Telekom AG to Repsol YPF SA posted better-than-estimated quarterly profit.

Greece’s former finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, received a three-day mandate from President Karolos Papoulias today to attempt to form a coalition government. Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the left-wing Syriza coalition, yesterday abandoned his attempt to form a government, forcing Papoulias to turn to Pasok, which came third in the elections.

In the U.K., the Bank of England’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee halted its program of bond purchases at 325 billion pounds ($525 billion), ending a second round of stimulus.

National benchmark indexes rose in every western-European market except Switzerland and Iceland. France’s CAC 40 added 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent. Germany’s DAX gained 0.7 percent. Spain’s IBEX 35 Index surged 3.4 percent while Greece’s ASE Index rallied 4.2 percent.

Deutsche Telekom climbed 3 percent to 8.80 euros. Europe’s second-largest telephone company reported first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation that slipped 0.1 percent to 4.48 billion euros ($5.8 billion).

Repsol YPF rallied 8.2 percent to 14.21 euros, its largest gain in two years. Spain’s biggest oil company beat analyst estimates for first-quarter earnings, posting profit of 792 million euros as higher oil prices buoyed income from its drilling and production operations.

UniCredit SpA gained 6.8 percent to 2.84 euros. Italy’s biggest bank said first-quarter profit rose 13 percent to 914 million euros as higher trading income more than offset a drop in fees and lending.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose, rebounding from the lowest level in two months, as Greece attempted to form a new government and a decline in American jobless claims helped allay concern of a labor market setback.

U.S. equities joined a global rally and the euro halted an eight-day slump, its longest since 2008. Greece’s Evangelos Venizelos, the socialist Pasok leader and former finance minister, said his goal is to form a government that keeps the nation in the euro area. Investors also watched economic data as initial claims for jobless benefits fell to a one-month low.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. banking system is stronger and more resilient while still facing challenges on credit quality and liquidity.

Technology shares had the biggest decline in the S&P 500 among 10 industries, falling 0.8 percent, as 47 out of its 71 stocks retreated. The group comprises 20 percent of the S&P 500.

Cisco (CSCO), the largest maker of computer-networking equipment, tumbled 10 percent to $16.81. Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said orders from big companies fell in the third quarter, and it’s taking longer to sign large deals with corporate customers. Cisco is also concerned about demand from Europe, India and government agencies, he said.

MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. sank 25 percent to $2.45, the lowest level since November 2001. The second-largest U.S. polysilicon maker posted a first-quarter loss 20 times greater than a year earlier as solar sales fell by more than one-third.

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