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29.02.2012 19:14

European stocks close:

European stocks were little changed, erasing earlier gains, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke failed to signal further monetary easing in a testimony to the Congress.

Bernanke said today that keeping monetary stimulus is warranted even as jobless claims fall and rising oil prices may push inflation up temporarily in the world’s largest economy.

Policy makers judge that “sustaining a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy is consistent with promoting both objectives” of the Fed for stable prices and maximum employment, Bernanke said in a testimony to the House Financial Services Committee in Washington.

The ECB said today it will lend 800 financial institutions 529.5 billion euros ($712.2 billion) for 1,092 days. Banks borrowed 489 billion euros in the first three-year operation in December.

National benchmark indexes declined in 10 of the 18 western-European markets today. Germany’s DAX fell 0.5 percent, France’s CAC was little changed and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost 1 percent.

Hochtief tumbled 5 percent to 52.41 euros after it said it won’t pay a dividend for 2011 and that the pretax profit for last year will be “slightly below” the amount in 2010.

Holcim gained 1.2 percent to 59 Swiss francs. Full-year sales of 20.7 billion Swiss francs ($23.1 billion) beat expectations for a revenue of 20.4 billion francs. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 3.96 billion francs topped the forecast for 3.85 billion francs.

Erste Group Bank AG advanced 4.3 percent, the most since Feb. 2, to 18.84 euros as fourth-quarter net income surpassed analyst projections.

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