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12.03.2014 17:40

European stock close

European stocks dropped to their lowest level in a month amid stake sales in companies from AP Moeller-Maersk (MAERSKB) A/S to Valeo SA, while Russia and Ukraine continued their standoff over Crimea.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 1 percent to 328.13 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The gauge has dropped 3 percent from its five-year high on Feb. 25 as Russia’s parliament granted President Vladimir Putin approval to use military force in Ukraine. The Russian-speaking region of Crimea holds a referendum on Sunday on whether to split from Ukraine.

The Group of Seven nations said today that they will not recognize the result of Crimea’s referendum. The U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and Japan said they would take further action if Russia annexs Crimea following the plebiscite. Ukraine says Russia has as many as 19,000 troops on the peninsula. The regional parliament has brought forward to Sunday a planned referendum on whether to leave Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that U.S. aid to the acting government in Kiev would violate American law because the departure of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine’s president last month counts as a coup. Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, meets U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington today. Yatsenyuk addresses the United Nations Security Council in New York tomorrow.

A Eurostat report showed that industrial production in the 18-nation euro zone dropped 0.2 percent in January. The average analyst forecast had called for an increase of 0.5 percent. The agency revised the decline in December to 0.4 percent.

National benchmark indexes fell in every western-European market except Luxembourg.

FTSE 100 6,620.9 -64.62 -0.97% CAC 40 4,306.26 -43.46 -1.00% DAX 9,188.69 -119.10 -1.28%

Maersk declined 3.2 percent to 62,850 kroner after the estate of the shipping company’s former chairman sold a 1.4 percent stake. Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller died in April 2012. His estate will use the proceeds of 3.55 billion kroner ($662 million) to pay taxes.

Valeo (FR) lost 2.1 percent to 99.06 euros after Bpifrance Financement SA sold about 1.98 million shares in France’s second-biggest auto-parts maker to institutional investors for 200 million euros ($278 million), according to a statement.

Tod’s dropped 5.1 percent to 94.15 euros after the Italian luxury-goods maker reported net income of 133.8 million euros for 2013. That missed the 138 million-euro average estimate of analysts.

G4S slid 5.3 percent to 232.5 pence. Underlying earnings fell to 14.7 pence a share in 2013 from 15.8 pence in 2012, missing the 16.2 pence average of forecasts.

Gerresheimer AG slid 5.5 percent to 45.49 euros after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lowered its recommendation on the maker of drug-delivery systems by two grades to sell from buy. The brokerage said the outlook for Gerresheimer’s returns has worsened and the company’s need for capital investment to generate growth will limit its free cash flow.

K+S AG dropped 2.1 percent to 24.52 euros after Europe’s biggest potash supplier proposed cutting its dividend by 82 percent to 25 euro cents a share and using part of the cash to pay for a new plant in Canada. The company, which sank 36 percent last year as potash prices fell, said it plans to return to a payout ratio of 40 percent to 50 percent of earnings.

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