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07.08.2013 17:21

European stocks close

European stocks fell as the Bank of England said it won’t raise interest rates or reduce bond purchases until the U.K.’s jobless rate falls below 7 percent, sparking concern it expects the economic recovery to be slow.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.2 percent to 302.81 at the close of trading, as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the U.K. economy hasn’t reached “escape velocity.” The benchmark gauge has rallied 9. percent since June 24 as the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England pledged to continue stimulus.

The Bank of England said it will seek not to raise its benchmark interest rate or reduce bond purchases until the U.K.’s unemployment rate falls below 7 percent, linking stimulus measures to a threshold for the first time. The unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in the quarter through May and the BOE expects it will stay above 7 percent at least until the third quarter of 2016.

The BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee last week voted to maintain the bank rate at 0.5 percent, the level it has been held at since March 2009, and the stock of asset purchases at 375 billion pounds ($580 billion).

In the U.S., Fed Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans, a proponent of monetary stimulus, said late yesterday he would not rule out a decision to reduce bond purchases from September.

Fed Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher, one of the most vocal critics of quantitative easing, said Aug. 5 that policy makers were “closer to execution mode” in considering the right time to begin reducing purchases.

National benchmark indexes retreated in 11 of the 18 western-European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 1.4 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index lost 0.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent.

Natixis declined 3.8 percent to 3.79 euros, its biggest decrease since Feb. 4. Quarterly net income on a pro-forma basis dropped to 248 million euros ($330 million). The bank took a 20 million-euro charge on its debt, after booking a 91 million-euro gain in the year-earlier period.

Rexel slid 4.2 percent to 18.15 euros. Ray Investment SARL sold 28.8 million shares at 18.25 euros each in the electrical-equipment distributor, according to a personal familiar with the sale. Ray Investment now holds 60.8 million shares, or more than 21 percent, in the company.

Randgold Resources retreated 1.4 percent to 4,366 pence. The gold producer said second-quarter profit slumped 61 percent from a year earlier to $46.3 million, while sales declined 27 percent to $252.8 million.

ING, which received a 10 billion-euro government bailout in 2008, gained 5.1 percent to 8.26 euros. Underlying pretax profit for the banking unit rose 14 percent to 1.15 billion euros in the second quarter as the interest margin improved and cost cuts paid off, the biggest Dutch financial-services company said.

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