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07.11.2013 18:20

European stock close

Most stocks in Europe fell as an unexpected European Central Bank interest rate cut pointed to prolonged weak growth in the region and stronger U.S. economic data fueled speculation the Federal Reserve may reduce the pace of its bond buying in the coming meetings.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell less than 0.1 percent to 323.2 at 4:30 p.m. in London, paring earlier gains of as much as 1.5 percent. About three stocks fell for every two that rose.

The ECB lowered its benchmark interest rate to 0.25 percent from 0.5 percent. The ECB expects key interest rates to remain at the current level or lower for an extended period of time, President Mario Draghi said at a press conference after the announcement.

“We may experience a prolonged period of low inflation,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt. “Accordingly, our monetary policy stance will remain accommodative for as long as necessary.”

The Bank of England held its key interest rate at 0.5 percent and its asset-purchase target at 375 billion pounds ($603 billion), matching the median forecast of economists.

National benchmark indexes dropped in 12 of the 18 western European markets.

FTSE 100 6,697.22 -44.47 -0.66% CAC 40 4,280.99 -5.94 -0.14% DAX 9,081.03 +40.16 +0.44%  

In the U.S., a Commerce Department report today showed that the world’s biggest economy expanded in the third quarter at a faster pace than forecast. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.8 percent annualized rate after a 2.5 percent gain the prior three months, beating the median forecast of economists surveyed for a 2 percent advance.

HeidelbergCement slipped 4.1 percent to 56.71 euros. The world’s third-largest maker of cement said quarterly operating income before depreciation fell to 811 million euros from 872 million euros a year earlier because of weaker currencies in emerging markets.

Bureau Veritas (BVI) fell 3.5 percent to 21.73 euros. The world’s second-biggest goods-inspection company posted third-quarter sales of 969.7 million euros late yesterday, trailing the 992 million-euro average estimate of analysts.

Siemens advanced 3.5 percent to 95.80 euros after saying it will buy back 4 billion euros of shares over the next two years. Europe’s biggest engineering company reported fourth-quarter profit from continuing operations of 1.08 billion euros ($1.44 billion), surpassing the 997 million-euro average projection of analysts.

Swiss Re rose 1.8 percent to 81.35 Swiss francs after the world’s second-biggest reinsurer said third-quarter profit fell to $1.07 billion from $2.18 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average had predicted profit of $775 million. The sale of a U.S. unit had boosted earnings in the year-earlier period.

Commerzbank AG jumped 10 percent to 10.26 euros, the largest gain in almost three months, as Germany’s second-biggest lender said third-quarter net income rose to 77 million euros. That beat the average analyst estimate of 32 million euros as the bank paid fewer taxes and risky-loan provisions climbed less than expected.

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