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European stocks fell for a second day as investors weighed an accord between U.S. lawmakers to limit automatic spending reductions and avoid another government shutdown, as well as a possible cut in Federal Reserve stimulus.
U.S. Congressional negotiators reached a budget accord to limit automatic spending cuts for the next two years, remove the risk of a government shutdown like the one in October and cut the deficit by as much as $23 billion. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives must pass the deal.
The compromise, worked out between chief negotiators Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan, would set spending at about $1.01 trillion in the current fiscal year, higher than the $967 billion required in a 2011 budget plan.
Investors are also considering when the Federal Reserve, which meets next week, may reduce the pace of its monthly bond buying. Twelve out of 35 economists surveyed by Bloomberg on Dec. 6 predicted that Fed policy makers will begin to slow the asset-buying program at their Dec. 17-18 meeting. Nine said the central bank will buy fewer bonds from its January meeting and the remaining 14 said that tapering will start in March.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 16 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 0.2 percent, France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.1 percent and Germany’s DAX lost 0.4 percent.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc lost 2.9 percent as Nathan Bostock said he will quit as chief financial officer.
Imagination Technologies Group Plc tumbled 24 percent to 190 pence, its lowest price since October 2009, after posting half-year sales that missed analysts’ estimates. The U.K. designer of chip technology for phones and tablets said sales rose to 85.2 million pounds ($139.6 million) in the period to Oct. 31, compared with the 93.3 million average estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Natixis SA climbed 3.1 percent to 4.02 euros. Exane BNP Paribas raised its rating on the stock to outperform, similar to a buy recommendation, from neutral, citing a potential capital return and high payouts for shareholders. The French bank will probably have a dividend yield of 3.9 percent this year and 5.7 percent next year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Stagecoach Group Plc advanced 2.8 percent to 372 pence, extending its gains this year to 21 percent. The bus and train operator said six-month adjusted earnings increased to 14.6 pence per share, exceeding the average analyst estimate for profit of 13.7 pence per share.
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