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Asian stocks narrowed losses as Moody’s Investors Service cut ratings on European nations including Italy, Spain and Portugal. Spain was downgraded to A3 from A1, Italy was cut to A3 from A2 and Portugal was lowered to Ba3 from Ba2, Moody’s said, giving all three nations a negative outlook. The ratings firm also reduced credit levels for Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.
Nikkei 225 8,999.18 +52.01 +0.58%
Hang Seng 20,887.4 +103.54 +0.50%
S&P/ASX 200 4,285.14 +39.81 +0.94%
Shanghai Composite 2,351.85 -0.13 -0.01%
Cosco Pacific Ltd., which operates container facilities at Greece’s Piraeus port, fell 1.9 percent in Hong Kong.
E Ink Holdings Inc., which makes screens for Amazon.com’s handheld reader, slumped 6.2 percent in Taiwan.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. advanced 0.8 percent after the Bank of Japan expanded an asset-purchase program to buoy growth.
China Molybdenum Co., a mineral explorer, fell 4.6 percent to HK$4.13 after reporting fiscal year profit was 1.12 billion yuan ($178 million), short of the 1.18 billion yuan estimated by analysts.
European stocks declined, paring the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s biggest rally in a week, after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded six euro-area countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal. Moody’s said it may strip the U.K. and France of their top Aaa ratings, citing the euro area’s crisis. Spain was downgraded to A3 from A1 yesterday, Italy to A3 from A2 and Portugal to Ba3 from Ba2, all with negative outlooks. Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta also had their ratings lowered.
German investor confidence increased in February more than economists had forecast, rising to a 10-month high. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, rose to 5.4 from minus 21.6 in January. Economists had predicted a gain to minus 11.8.
National benchmark indexes declined in all of the 18 western-European markets today except Italy. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.1 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index fell 0.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 Index lost 0.3 percent.
ThyssenKrupp dropped 3.8 percent to 21.07 euros after reporting a loss before interest and taxes of 33 million euros, compared with a profit of 261 million euros a year earlier.
TDC, Denmark’s largest phone company, slid 4.3 percent to 43.28 euros as its private-equity investors sold 750 million euros of stock in a sale arranged by Morgan Stanley.
Nokia rose 2.1 percent to 3.84 euros after Nokia Siemens Networks’ CEO, Suri, did not rule out an IPO of the joint venture between Siemens AG and Nokia, Capital magazine reported, citing an interview.
Deutsche Boerse added 2.4 percent to 49.94 euros after the German bourse operator posted a fourth-quarter profit amid lower costs and higher sales while announcing a stock buyback and dividend.
U.S. stocks pared losses in the last half hour of trading amid optimism Greek leaders will commit to austerity measures needed for a second bailout.
Stocks recovered after Reuters reported that Greece’s Conservative Party leader will deliver a letter of commitment to lenders tomorrow, citing a government source.
Stocks slumped earlier amid data showing that U.S. retail sales rose 0.4 percent in January, half the 0.8 percent forecast of economists in a survey. European finance ministers canceled a meeting scheduled for tomorrow as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said he has yet to receive the political assurances from Greek lawmakers about austerity measures required for the 130 billion euros ($170 billion) bailout.
Dow 12,878.28 +4.24 +0.03%, Nasdaq 2,931.83 +0.44 +0.02%, S&P 500 1,350.50 -1.27 -0.09%
Bank of America (ВАС) lost 2.7 percent, the biggest decline in the Dow, to $8.03. Citigroup downgraded the shares to “neutral” from “buy.”
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. fell 5.4 percent to $13.22. Fourth-quarter profit excluding some items was 3 cents a share, the Akron, Ohio-based company said. The drop in volume of tires sold reduced revenue by $174 million, Goodyear said.
Masco dropped 12 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $11.61. It reported a fourth-quarter loss from continuing operations of 9 cents a share, wider than the average analyst estimate of a loss of 2 cents.
Gap Inc. rallied 2.6 percent to $22.29. Citigroup raised its recommendation for the largest U.S. specialty apparel chain to “buy” from “neutral” and also lifted its share-price estimate to $26 from $24.
Boeing Co. (BA) added 0.7 percent to $75.35. The planemaker signed a 230-aircraft order worth $22.4 billion at list prices from Indonesian budget carrier PT Lion Mentari Airlines, setting a record.
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