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27.03.2014 18:00

European stock close

European stocks were little changed, after a two-day rally, as retailers fell and investors weighed U.S. data on economic growth and jobless claims.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1 percent after jumping 2 percent in the past two days. The gauge is down 2 percent this month, its biggest decline since June, amid tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

“We’re still very positive on the European rebound,” said Louis de Fels, a Paris-based fund manager at Raymond James Financial Inc., which oversees about $53 billion. “It’s true that if the problem in Russia continues, it could be very bad for the market. It’s very tough, so we will closely monitor what’s happening and stay focused on stock picking.”

The U.S. and the European Union have imposed financial sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials as well associates of President Vladimir Putin, leaving open the threat of broader measures targeting Russia’s energy and financial sectors.

President Barack Obama warned yesterday that the crisis in Ukraine may escalate, saying that indifference to Russia’s annexation of Crimea would ignore the lessons of two world wars.

A report showed U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 2.6 percent annualized rate from October through December, more than the previously estimated 2.4 percent gain reported last month. The median forecast of economists surveyed called for a 2.7 percent increase.

A separate release from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell to 311,000 in the week ended March 22, compared with a median forecast of 323,000.

National benchmark indexes fell in 12 of 18 western-European markets.

FTSE 100 6,581.48 -23.82 -0.36% CAC 40 4,373.93 -11.22 -0.26% DAX 9,445.81 -2.77 -0.03%

H&M slid 4.5 percent to 276.90 kronor. Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer said net income rose 7.8 percent to 2.65 billion kronor ($409 million) in the first quarter, falling short of the 2.89-billion kronor estimated by analysts. The gross ">Daily Mail & General Trust Plc slumped 7.6 percent, its biggest drop since May 2011, to 891 pence as the publisher reduced the outlook for its risk-management solutions business.

Alstom SA declined 4.9 percent to 19.24 euros. The French maker of trains and power equipment faces a bribery case that may result in one of the largest U.S. anti-corruption enforcement actions, according to two people with knowledge of the probe. The U.S. Justice Department will examine the company’s power projects in China and India, according to court documents in a related case.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc dropped 1.6 percent to 301.1 pence after its U.S. unit failed the Federal Reserve’s stress test. The U.S. central bank rejected RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc.’s capital plan.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG slid 1.1 percent to 18.71 euros. Europe’s second-largest airline canceled one in three flights scheduled for today. A walkout by a labor union demanding higher pay at German airports grounds part of its fleet.

United Internet advanced 4.7 percent to 33.70 euros. The German provider of phone and Internet services said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization climbed 25 percent to 407 million euros ($560 million) last year. Sales rose 11 percent to 2.66 billion euros.

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