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European stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting a second weekly drop, as investors awaited next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, and as gains in AstraZeneca Plc offset PSA Peugeot Citroen’s slide.
The Stoxx 600 fell 0.2 percent to 309.75 at the close of trading. The regional benchmark has retreated 2.1 percent this week as U.S. economic data fueled speculation the Fed could slow the pace of bond buying sooner than forecast.
About 34 percent of economists surveyed on Dec. 6 by Bloomberg predicted that the U.S. central bank may reduce its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases at its Dec. 17-18 meeting, up from 17 percent in a Nov. 8 poll.
National benchmark indexes declined in 12 of the 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.1 percent.
AstraZeneca Plc gained 1.8 percent to 3,518.5 pence. The benefits of the new diabetes drug outweigh a potential higher risk of bladder cancer and liver toxicity, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration said. The FDA is expected to decide by Jan. 11 whether to approve the treatment, known as dapagliflozin.
ARM Holdings Plc climbed 3 percent to 1,001 pence. The U.K. chip designer announced the acquisition of Geomerics, a provider of lighting technology for the gaming and entertainment industry, without giving financial details.
Home Retail Group Plc added 2.2 percent to 189.7 pence. Deutsche Bank AG raised the owner of the Argos chain to buy from hold, citing a “more buoyant consumer atmosphere.”
Peugeot declined 12 percent to 9.34 euros. General Motors, the U.S. automaker that acquired a stake in Peugeot last year, is selling its entire 7 percent holding -- 24.8 million shares - - through a private placement to institutional investors. GM is offering the shares to money managers for 10 euros to 10.25 euros apiece, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
RSA Insurance plunged 7.2 percent to 92.5 pence, its lowest price in more than eight years. The London-based insurer added an additional 130 million pounds ($212 million) to its Irish reserves and forecast a further reduction in 2013 earnings. Chairman Martin Scicluna will lead the company until a new CEO is appointed.
Delta Lloyd NV dropped 3 percent to 17.14 euros. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its rating on the biggest Dutch provider of group life insurance to neutral from buy, citing the stock’s rally. The shares have gained 39 percent this year, compared with the Stoxx Insurance 600 Index’s 20 percent increase.
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