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15.08.2012 17:30

European stocks close:

European (SXXP) stocks were little changed, after the Stoxx Europe 600 reached its highest level in almost five months yesterday, as a worse-than-expected manufacturing report for the New York area revived hopes the Federal Reserve will act to stimulate the economy.

The Stoxx 600 lost 0.1 percent to 270.35 at the close of trading.

European stocks rallied for the last 10 weeks amid better-than-expected company earnings and speculation policy makers from will do more to stimulate the economy. The Stoxx 600 climbed yesterday as a report showed German growth slowed less than forecast.

National benchmark indexes declined in eight of the western-European markets that were open today.

FTSE 100 5,833.04 -31.74 -0.54% CAC 40 3,449.2 -1.07 -0.03% DAX 6,946.8 -27.59 -0.40%

A gauge of European mining companies posted the worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.

Iron-ore prices dropped to the lowest since Dec. 2009 yesterday on slower growth in China, the biggest user of the raw material, and a weaker outlook for the global economy.

Rio Tinto lost 3.4 percent to 3,038 pence, contributing the most to the Stoxx 600’s decline, while BHP Billiton Plc fell 2.3 percent to 1,936.5 pence.

Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC) slid 8.5 percent to 379.6 pence, its biggest decline since Sept. 22. First-half sales of $3.25 billion missed the average $3.4 billion analyst estimate, and the company said the market will remain volatile with uncertain pricing. Net income for the period fell 60 percent to $463 million.

Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (IMT) lost 1.7 percent to 2,489 pence. Australia will become the first country to require cigarettes to be sold in uniform packages after its top court rejected a challenge from tobacco companies, setting a precedent for other nations to follow.

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) fell 1 percent to 188.75 pence after Bank of America Corp. cut the world’s second-biggest mobile- phone company to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from buy.

FirstGroup Plc (FGP) slumped 6.1 percent to 243.2 pence. The company won a U.K. Department for Transport contract to operate the new InterCity West Coast rail franchise, which links London with Scotland, until 2026. Shares had gained 7.6 percent in the last five sessions after reports that it may win the contract.

Standard Chartered increased 4.1 percent to 1,426.5 pence.

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) rallied 3.4 percent to 2.08 euros. The company will keep Windows as its smartphone platform, citing Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop.

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