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European stocks were little changed as utility shares rallied, offsetting HSBC Holdings Plc’s biggest retreat since July and a survey that showed China’s services industries slowed last month.
China’s government intensified its three-year campaign to cool the real estate market, ordering larger deposits and stricter enforcement of sales taxes. The People’s Bank of China’s regional branches may implement the measures in conjunction with the price-control targets of local governments, the country’s cabinet said in a statement.
In Rome, a senior aide to Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani said the country will need to hold another election if the center left fails to build a coalition commanding a majority of seats in the Senate.
The finance ministers of the 17-member euro area meet in Brussels today to discuss the planned bailout for Cyprus.
National benchmark indexes dropped in 12 of the 18 western- European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX retreated 0.2 percent. Greece’s ASE Index lost 2.1 percent after Russell Investments reclassified the country as an emerging market.
HSBC dropped 2.5 percent to 710 pence after saying pretax earnings fell 5.6 percent in 2012 because of a record settlement for anti-money-laundering sanctions in the U.S. and a charge to revalue its own debt. Profit of $20.65 billion trailed the $23.49 billion estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The lender took a $5.2 billion charge for revaluing its debt.
Anglo American Plc retreated 2.7 percent to 1,849 pence after Nomura Holdings Inc. downgraded the stock to reduce, a rating similar to sell, from neutral. The brokerage said that analysts need to lower their estimates for the company’s earnings this year.
Debenhams slumped 15 percent to 80.7 pence, for the biggest tumble on the Stoxx 600. The second-largest U.K. department store forecast that pretax profit for the first half of the year will decline to 120 million pounds ($181 million) after snow disrupted sales. Comparable revenue dropped 10 percent from Jan. 14 to Jan. 27, the retailer said.
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