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21.06.2012 08:21

Stocks: Wednesday’s review

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index heading for its highest close in a month, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will expand stimulus measures and after the Group of 20 leaders pledged to support economic growth and help overcome Europe’s debt crisis.

Nikkei 225 8,752.31 +96.44 +1.11%

Hang Seng 19,529.58 +112.91 +0.58%

S&P/ASX 200 4,132.44 +9.11 +0.22%

Shanghai Composite 2,292.88 -7.92 -0.34%

Sony Corp., Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, gained 3.5 percent after the country’s overseas shipments rose.

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. jumped 4.3 percent after the Japanese bank said it plans to boost overseas loans this year.

Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd. surged 9.7 percent in Sydney after News Corp. offered to buy Australia’s largest pay television network for A$2 billion ($2 billion).

European stocks advanced, sending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index to its highest level in more than a month, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will expand Operation Twist to help sustain economic growth.

Euro-area leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Mexico yesterday pledged to take “all necessary policy measures” to defend the currency union as world leaders endorsed a road map for tighter integration to cut borrowing costs and prevent further damage to the global economy. Attention now shifts to a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels on June 28-29.

National benchmark indexes rallied in all 18 western- European markets except in Switzerland and Ireland. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.6 percent and Germany’s DAX increased 0.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 increased 0.3 percent.

Aer Lingus paced advancing shares after Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount airline, offered to buy its Irish rival for 694 million euros ($883 million). Aer Lingus surged 15 percent to 1.09 euros in Dublin, the most since September 2009, as Ryanair, which already holds a 29.8 percent stake, said it intends to make an all-cash offer of 1.30 euros per share.

H&M gained 4.8 percent to 241.50 kronor after Europe’s second-largest clothing retailer reported a 23 percent increase in second-quarter profit to 5.22 billion kronor ($751 million) as U.S. and Asian sales rose. The average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg called for 4.86 billion kronor.

Kesa Electricals Plc dropped 5 percent to 52.5 pence after the owner of the Darty electronics chain reported a 42 percent slump in full-year adjusted pretax profit to 59 million euros. The company cut its dividend and said Mothercare Plc’s Alan Parker will replace David Newlands as chairman. The shares had climbed 19 percent over the previous four days.

U.S. stocks dropped, following a four-day gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as the Federal Reserve cut its estimates for growth amid a slowdown in hiring.

Stocks fell as the central bank cut its estimates for growth and said it sees little progress on unemployment during the rest of the year. The Fed lowered its central tendency estimate for U.S. 2012 gross domestic product growth to 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent from 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent in April.

The Fed will expand its program to replace short-term bonds with longer-term debt by $267 billion through the end of 2012. That “should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative,” the Federal Open Market Committee said.

Adobe slumped 2.7 percent to $31.99. It reduced the high end of its annual sales growth forecast range to 7 percent from 8 percent, which is “anemic” for a technology company, said Barbara Coffey, an analyst with National Securities.

P&G lost 2.9 percent to $60.39. The reduced forecasts illustrate the difficulties faced by consumer-products makers as rising unemployment in Europe and North America restricts spending. Danone, the world’s biggest yogurt maker, cut its profitability forecast yesterday. Walgreen Co. retreated 2.9 percent to $29.21. The biggest U.S. drugstore chain was downgraded to neutral from outperform at Macquarie Group Ltd. by equity analyst Dane Leone. The 12- month share-price estimate is $34.

JPMorgan (JPM) gained 3 percent to $36.45. Trading in the credit derivatives index that contributed to the bank’s losses in its London chief investment office soared to a record yesterday in a sign that the biggest U.S. bank may be unwinding its position, according to data cited by Credit Suisse Group AG.

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) rallied 1.9 percent to $17.51. The biggest maker of computer-networking equipment was raised to outperform from market perform at BMO Capital Markets.

Applied Materials Inc. gained 3.4 percent to $11.55. The largest producer of chipmaking equipment was raised to overweight at Barclays Plc.

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