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Stocks in Europe declined for a third day as the European Commission said the region’s economy will shrink this year, dragged down by Italy and Spain.
The 17-nation euro economy will contract 0.3 percent in 2012, the European Commission said, abandoning a November forecast for a 0.5 percent growth. The commission expects the economy to shrink 1.3 percent in Italy and 1 percent in Spain.
In Germany, the Munich-based Ifo institute said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, climbed to 109.6 in February from 108.3 in January. That’s the fourth straight gain and the highest reading since July.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 12 of the 18 western European markets. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was little changed. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent.
Commerzbank fell 6.6 percent to 1.93 euros. Germany’s second-largest lender said it won’t pay a dividend for 2011 and will ask investors to swap hybrid capital instruments trading below face value for new shares, in a plan to boost its financial strength. The measures could increase the core Tier 1 capital by more than 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion), the bank said.
Deutsche Telekom AG lost 3 percent to 8.70 euros. The company forecast earnings will fall further this year after posting a 1.34 billion-euro quarterly net loss because of writedowns on T-Mobile USA and its Greek business.
Natixis SA, the investment-banking and asset-management unit of Groupe BPCE, jumped 8.4 percent to 2.53 euros. The bank said fourth-quarter profit fell 32 percent to 302 million euros after it wrote down Greek sovereign debt.
Cookson Group Plc, the world’s biggest maker of ceramic linings for metal smelters, advanced 4.7 percent to 670 pence. The company said it will sell its U.S. precious metals business to a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
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