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05.11.2012 18:20

European stocks close:

European stocks dropped by the most in two weeks after HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and CGGVeritas reported earnings that disappointed investors and amid concern that Greece will struggle to get further aid.

HSBC lost 1.3 percent as Europe’s largest bank by value also said it will likely face criminal charges from U.S. anti- money laundering probes. CGGVeritas retreated 3.1 percent after third-quarter profit missed analyst estimates. PostNL (PNL) sank 11 percent after saying full-year earnings will be at the bottom half of forecasts and on concern the proposed sale of TNT Express NV (TNTE) may be held up by regulators.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.6 percent to 273.21 at the close of trading, its lowest level since Oct. 23.

Investors also await the outcome of tomorrow’s U.S. election between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

National benchmark indexes declined in 15 of the 18 western European (SXXP) markets.

FTSE 100 5,841.98 -26.57 -0.45% CAC 40 3,452.99 -39.47 -1.13% DAX 7,327.32 -36.53 -0.50%   

HSBC fell 1.3 percent to 618 pence in London, the biggest drop since Sept. 26, after reporting third-quarter underlying pretax profit of $5.04 billion, missing the $5.6 billion median estimate of analysts. The lender also said it’s likely to face criminal charges over allegations it broke U.S. anti-money laundering rules and that it set aside a further $800 million to cover the costs of the probe. The bank made a $700 million provision in July after a Senate committee found it had given terrorists and drug cartels access to the U.S. financial system.

CGGVeritas (GA), the world’s largest surveyor of oilfields, lost 3.1 percent to 24.51 euros after the company reported third- quarter net profit of $48 million, missing analyst estimates for $68 million. The shares fell even as the company confirmed its 2012 targets.

PostNL sank 11 percent to 2.77 euros, its lowest price in almost seven months, after the Dutch mail service company said full-year underlying cash operating income would be in the bottom half of a forecast of between 110 million euros ($140 million) and 160 million euros. The shares fell even as the company narrowed its third-quarter loss to 154 million euros.

Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) surged 5.8 percent to 4.81 euros in Dublin after Europe’s biggest discount airline reported a 23 percent jump in second-quarter net profit to 496.8 million euros.

The carrier also said annual earnings will be in the range of 490 million euros to 520 million euros.

Weir Group Plc (WEIR) advanced 4.5 percent to 1,831 pence. The world’s largest provider of pumps to mining companies predicted profit will grow at a double-digit pace this year and that net debt will fall by the end of December.

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