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European stocks declined as President Mario Draghi reiterated the European Central Bank’s pledge to keep interest rates low as he warned that it’s too soon to say the euro region is out of danger.
The ECB’s Governing Council, convening in Frankfurt today for the first policy-setting meeting of 2014, left the main refinancing rate at 0.25 percent, a decision predicted by all 51 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Officials held the deposit rate at zero and the "> “The Governing Council strongly emphasizes that it will maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy for as long as necessary,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt today after the announcement.
He refused to say the fight against Europe’s debt crisis is won, even as stocks and bonds rally and countries such as Ireland and Portugal return to the debt market.
The Bank of England also kept its benchmark rate at a record-low 0.5 percent today, while its bond-purchase target stayed at 375 billion pounds ($618 billion).
National benchmark indexes slipped in 10 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 0.8 percent.
Arkema slipped 3.1 percent to 79.50 euros after lowering its forecast for 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to around 900 million euros ($1.22 billion) from a previous estimate of 920 million euros.
TGS soared 17 percent to 172.50 kroner after Norway’s biggest surveyor of underwater oil and gas fields forecast 2013 revenue of about $882 million, compared with previous guidance of $810 million to $870 million.
AstraZeneca added 0.7 percent to 3,572.5 pence. The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement yesterday it approved dapagliflozin, a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. The pill by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb is the second in a new class of medicines for the disease, with Johnson & Johnson gaining clearance for its treatment in March.
Genel Energy added 3.5 percent to 1,117 pence as HSBC Holdings Plc upgraded its rating on the shares to overweight, similar to a buy, from neutral. HSBC said in a note that many exploration and production companies are now trading below core-asset value.
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