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03.01.2013 18:20

European stocks close

Euro-area stocks declined from a 17- month high amid concern a budget deal will fail to reduce the U.S. government’s fiscal deficit. Swiss shares rallied after the New Year holiday.

K+S AG (SDF) retreated 3.5 percent after Exane BNP Paribas lowered its price forecast for the potash maker’s shares. UBS AG (UBSN) and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA each rallied more than 4 percent, leading Swiss stocks higher. Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALU) climbed 9.8 percent as Credit Suisse Group AG raised its recommendation on the maker of telecommunication equipment.

The Euro Stoxx 50 Index of the euro area’s biggest companies fell 0.4 percent to 2,701.22 at the close of trading. The broader Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.5 percent to its highest since February 2011 as the Swiss

National benchmark indexes gained in 15 of the 18 western- European markets.

FTSE 100 6,047.34 +19.97 +0.33% CAC 40 3,721.17 -12.76 -0.34% DAX 7,756.44 -22.34 -0.29%

K+S slid 3.5 percent to 33.89 euros. Exane cut its share- price forecast 5 percent to 29.50 euros and left its recommendation at underperform, meaning investors should sell the shares. Citigroup Inc. lowered its rating to neutral from buy, saying that a deal by U.S. and Canadian companies to supply potash to China was negative for European producers.

UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, jumped 4.1 percent to 14.85 Swiss francs. Richemont, the world’s second-largest luxury-goods company, rallied 5.7 percent to 75.50 francs. Swatch Group AG (UHR) climbed 6.4 percent to 490.50 francs. Sales of goods including jewelry and watches in Hong Kong jumped 14 percent in November from a year earlier, the city’s government said today. They declined 2.9 percent in October.

Alcatel-Lucent surged 9.8 percent to 1.16 euros after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform. Alcatel’s debt agreement means the company will maintain sufficient gross cash to remain a viable business in the long term, Credit Suisse wrote in a note.

Next Plc (NXT) advanced 2.7 percent to 3,873 pence. The U.K.’s second-largest clothing retailer said full-year profit will be 611 million pounds ($987 million) to 625 million pounds. The company had forecast pretax profit for the fiscal year ending this month of 590 million pounds to 620 million pounds.

Wacker Chemie AG (WCH) rose 5.1 percent to 53.47 euros after UBS added the German maker of polysilicon to the list of its most preferred chemical stocks in Europe. The price of the material used to make solar panels climbed, SK Securities Co. said.

Transocean Ltd. surged 11 percent to 44.62 francs, its biggest jump since September 2011, after a person familiar with the matter said the offshore drilling-rig operator will settle all federal claims over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for about $1.5 billion.

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