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European stocks were little changed, completing a third monthly gain, as a report showed unemployment in the euro area fell from a record high.
A Eurostat report showed that euro-area unemployment unexpectedly fell in October. The jobless rate declined to 12.1 percent from 12.2 percent in September. Economists had predicted it would remain at a record high.
S&P raised its outlook for Spain’s debt to stable from negative, reducing the likelihood that the ratings company will cut the Mediterranean nation’s rating to junk. S&P affirmed Spain at BBB-, its lowest investment grade.
The ratings company raised its score for Cyprus to B- from CCC+. It lowered the Netherlands to AA+ from AAA, citing weaker growth prospects than previously forecast.
National benchmark indexes declined in 10 of the 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 fell 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent.
Kesko jumped 8.8 percent to 27.47 euros, its highest price since February 2012. The company said it plans to sell some of its store sites and shopping malls to a real estate investment trust that it will set up in 2014. The trust, which Kesko will partly own, will hold assets in Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Monte Paschi rose 1.5 percent to 18.7 euro cents. The lender said it will target net income of 200 million euros ($272 million) in 2015 and 900 million euros in 2017 after losing 8,000 staff, selling 3 billion euros of new shares and shrinking its balance sheet by 25 percent. Monte Paschi’s plan, which received European Union approval on Nov. 27, would allow it to repay 4.1 billion euros of state aid by 2017.
Speedy Hire slumped 22 percent to 50.5 pence. The company said late yesterday that it had found accounting irregularities within its international business, which mostly operates in the Middle East. Speedy Hire forecast that the irregularities will reduce pretax profit for the financial year ending March 31 by about 3 million pounds ($4.9 million). Steve Corcoran resigned as chief executive officer. He will stay with the company until it finds a successor, according to a statement.
UPM-Kymmene Oyj fell 3.6 percent to 12.23 euros. UBS lowered Europe’s second-largest papermaker to sell from neutral. The brokerage said that demand for the company’s product will not recover in Europe and that the industry will probably reduce its capacity next year.
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