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24.05.2012 08:17

Stocks: Wednesday’s review

Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index snapping a two-day rally, as concerns mounted that Greece may exit the euro zone and the Bank of Japan refrained from deploying further monetary stimulus, dimming the outlook for exporters.

Nikkei 225 8,556.6 -172.69 -1.98%

Hang Seng 18,786.19 -252.96 -1.33%

S&P/ASX 200 4,067.04 -53.97 -1.31%

Shanghai Composite 2,363.44 -9.87 -0.42%

Cosco Pacific Ltd., which operates container facilities at Greece’s Piraeus port, fell 4 percent in Hong Kong.

Mitsui & Co., a Japanese trading company, slid 1.6 percent after the nation’s trade data missed estimates.

Quanta Computer Inc. led computer makers lower in Taiwan, dropping 4.2 percent, after bellwether Dell Inc. forecast slower sales.

Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding Co. slumped 24 percent in Hong Kong on a report regulators are investigating the drugmaker for suspected financial fraud.

European stocks slid the most in a month amid growing concern that Greece may leave the euro as the region’s leaders prepared to meet in Brussels.

Greece’s former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said that while it is unlikely the nation will leave the euro, it’s still a risk, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday after the close of European trading.

European leaders are meeting in Brussels today to discuss the region’s debt crisis that has wiped about $4 trillion from equity markets worldwide this month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been unable to stifle calls for measures she opposes, including euro bonds, the use of European money to recapitalize banks, a bigger rescue fund and extra time for debt-swamped countries to cut spending.

National benchmark indexes fell in all the western European markets today, except for Iceland. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost 2.5 percent and Germany’s DAX slid 2.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 sank 2.6 percent.

LSE plunged 7.3 percent to 947 pence, the biggest drop since November 2009. UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest banks, sold about 31 million shares at 960 pence apiece, according to statements from the lenders.

FirstGroup Plc rallied 7.4 percent to 220.1 pence. Britain’s largest train operator boosted full-year earnings 90 percent and said it would accelerate an asset-disposal program in its bus division.

U.S. stocks erased early losses amid optimism that European leaders will do more to halt contagion from the region’s debt crisis, helping the market reverse a plunge triggered by growing concern Greece will leave the euro.

Equities fell earlier, joining a global slump, as European leaders meet to discuss the region’s crisis. The prospect of Greece leaving the shared currency weighed on the market as parties opposed to bailout terms won most of the votes in May 6 elections.

Bank of America (ВАС) added 2.7 percent, the most in the Dow, to $7.17. Alcoa (АА), the largest U.S. aluminum producer, advanced 1.4 percent to $8.61.

Facebook added 3.2 percent to $32. It fell below its $38 IPO price on May 21 on concern its initial public offering was priced too high. The offering valued Facebook at 107 times trailing 12-month earnings, more than every S&P 500 member except Inc. and Equity Residential.

Ford Motor Co. jumped 2.2 percent to $10.41. The automaker was raised to investment grade by Moody’s Investors Service yesterday, enabling Executive Chairman Bill Ford, great-grandson of the founder, to reclaim the blue oval logo he put up as collateral for a loan.

Dell tumbled 17 percent, the biggest decline in the S&P 500, to $12.49. The forecast, paired with a first-quarter sales and earnings miss, pointed to problems endemic to Dell, Steve Felice, Dell’s president, said in a conference call. The sales team focused on individual products instead of packages of hardware and software, he said.

Rival Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) rallied 10 percent to $23.27 after the close of regular trading. The world’s largest PC maker will eliminate the jobs by October 2014 through firings and early retirement offers, for an annual savings of as much as $3.5 billion. The company also forecast fiscal third-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates on slumping demand for printers, data-center equipment and services.

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