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Asian stocks fell, with the region’s benchmark index retreating from a six-month high, after a second bailout for Greece was postponed and Westpac Banking Corp. reported lower earnings.
Nikkei 225 9,238.1 -22.24 -0.24%
Hang Seng 21,277.28 -87.95 -0.41%
S&P/ASX 200 4,181.86 -71.54 -1.68%
Shanghai Composite 2,356.86 -9.84 -0.42%
Westpac, Australia’s second-largest lender, fell 3.5 percent as higher funding costs stemming from Europe’s crisis ate into profit.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company, lost 2.2 percent in Sydney after metal prices dropped and rival Vale SA said earnings fell as customers pressed for discounts.
Phison Electronics Corp., a maker of controllers for flash memory, slid 6.9 percent in Taiwan on lower chip prices.
European stocks were little changed, paring earlier losses, as better-than-estimated U.S. economic data outweighed a delay in the bailout of Greece.
Europe’s creditor countries struggled to reach an agreement over a rescue of Greece, seeking more control over how future aid is spent as the country faces the threat of default over a bond payment due on March 20. Policy makers will discuss a second bailout on Feb. 20.
Moody’s said it is reviewing the credit ratings of 17 banks and securities firms with capital-markets operations, which may result in downgrades. The announcement comes days after the company cut the ratings of six European nations including Spain and lowered its outlook on France.
Spain and France today sold 14.2 billion euros ($18.5 billion) in their first auctions since the euro-area downgrades by Moody’s, getting more demand than the amount they offered. The yield on France’s benchmark two-year notes fell, while Spanish borrowing costs rose.
National benchmark indexes declined in 9 of the 18 western European markets today. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent, while Germany’s DAX lost 0.1 percent each. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent. Spain’s IBEX 35 Index fell 2.1 percent.
Spain’s stock-market regulator lifted a six-month ban on short-selling of financial stocks. Banco Santander SA lost 2.6 percent to 6.29 euros, while Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA slid 4.1 percent to 6.80 euros. Bankia SA tumbled 7.3 percent to 3.09 euros.
ABB fell 3.6 percent to 19.20 Swiss francs. The world’s largest maker of power-distribution equipment reported less- than-expected profit in the fourth quarter and said price pressure may weigh in on profitability in the first quarter.
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, climbed 2.1 percent to 55.60 francs after posting 2011 sales growth that beat analyst estimates and forecast higher 2012 earnings as it introduces new products.
U.S. stocks advanced, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index near the highest level in about three years, amid better-than-estimated economic reports and optimism that Greece will receive a second bailout.
Stocks rose as Americans filed the fewest claims for jobless benefits since 2008 and builders broke ground on more homes than forecast. Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded in February at the fastest pace in four months as orders and sales picked up.
Benchmark gauges extended gains and banks rallied as three euro-area officials said the European Central Bank is swapping its Greek bonds for new ones to ensure it isn’t forced to take losses in a debt restructuring. European governments are considering cutting interest rates on emergency loans to Greece and using contributions from the ECB to plug a new financing gap in the second bailout program for Athens, two people familiar with the discussions said.
Dow 12,904.01 +123.06 +0.96%, Nasdaq 2,959.85 +44.02 +1.51%, S&P 500 1,358.04 +14.81 +1.10%
Bank of America (ВАС) added 4 percent to $8.09. Microsoft (MSFT) jumped 4.1 percent, the most in the Dow, to $31.29. The shares rose to the highest price since April 2010.
GM surged 9 percent to $27.17. North America earnings before interest and taxes more than tripled for the year to $7.19 billion. The automaker’s Europe business, including the Opel brand, lost $747 million for the year.
NetApp rallied 7.2 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $42.74. The maker of data-storage products said revenue in the third quarter was $1.57 billion, above the average analyst estimate of $1.56 billion. The company said it won a record number of new customers and significantly increased the amount of units shipped.
Amazon.com Inc. sank 2.5 percent to $179.93. The world’s largest Web retailer fell after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock, citing competition from Apple Inc. and the decline of traditional media such as CDs and video games.
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