Asian stocks fell, with the region’s benchmark index headed for its first decline in three days, as commodity producers retreated on lower metal prices and Chinese developers dropped after home prices declined.
Nikkei 225 9,707.37 -15.87 -0.16%
Hang Seng 21,387.96 -292.12 -1.35%
S&P/ASX 200 4,255.55 -43.00 -1.00%
Shanghai Composite 2,426.11 -2.37 -0.10%
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s No. 1 mining company, lost 1.5 percent in Sydney, the biggest drag on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index.
China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd., a state-owned builder, lost 5.5 percent in Hong Kong.
Country Garden Holdings Company Ltd. slumped 8.6 percent after the developer said it would sell shares at a discount.
European stocks rose, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s best start to a year since 1998, as Spanish and French borrowing costs dropped and a report showed initial jobless claims fell to a four-year low in the U.S.
Spain and France sold 12.5 billion euros ($16.7 billion) of bonds as yesterday’s European Central Bank loans to banks helped spur demand for debt. The rate on Italy’s two-year notes dropped below 2 percent for the first time since October 2010.
In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed initial jobless claims fell last week to a level matching a four-year low, dropping to 351,000. That’s the lowest since March 2008 and fewer than the average economist forecast of 355,000.
China’s manufacturing improved for a third straight month in February, signaling that the world’s second-biggest economy is maintaining momentum amid the euro area’s crisis.
National benchmark indexes climbed in all of the 18 western-European markets, except Norway. Germany’s DAX Index rose 1.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 Index gained 1.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index added 1 percent.
Veolia Environnement jumped 15 percent to 10.55 euros, the largest gain on the Stoxx 600, after saying it’s in exclusive talks to sell Transdev, its mass-transit unit.
Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc soared 15 percent to 31.98 pence after Tata Communications Ltd. said it may make a cash offer for the company and may decide on a transaction by the end of the month.
WPP Plc gained 3 percent to 827.5 pence after the world’s largest advertising agency reported that revenue rose to 10 billion pounds ($16 billion) in 2011. Analysts had estimated sales of 9.96 billion pounds. WPP predicted that revenue will grow 4 percent in 2012, faster than the industry average, because of its position in emerging markets.
PSA Peugeot Citroen slid 3.9 percent to 14.47 euros after Moody’s Investors Service cut the carmaker’s credit rating to junk. Peugeot announced a broad alliance with General Motors Co. yesterday that will include joint purchasing and vehicle development in an effort to revitalize their European operations.
U.S. stocks advanced, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to the highest level since 2008, amid a rally in financial shares and after government data showed that jobless claims declined to a four-year low.
Equities rose as the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a level matching a four-year low, more evidence the labor market is healing. Gains in Europe also helped lift the S&P 500 after Spain and France sold 12.5 billion euros ($16.7 billion) of bonds as the European Central Bank’s long-term refinancing operation of lending to banks helped spur demand.
Dow 12,980.30 +28.23 +0.22%, Nasdaq 2,988.97 +22.08 +0.74%, S&P 500 1,374.09 +8.41 +0.62%
JPMorgan increased 2.9 percent, the most in the Dow, to $40.37. Bank of America had the second-largest advance in the 30-stock gauge, climbing 1.9 percent to $8.12.
Gap surged 7.2 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $25.05. Sales climbed 4 percent, beating the average projection for a 1.4 percent drop from analysts surveyed by Retail Metrics Inc. Unseasonably warm weather boosted purchases of spring merchandise.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. climbed 2.2 percent to $7.51. The second-largest maker of processors for personal computers said it will pay $334 million to buy SeaMicro Inc., a chip designer with expertise in servers, adding technology that can help it compete with Intel Corp. in the market for data centers.
Sotheby’s tumbled 9.1 percent to $35.75. The publicly traded auctioneer of fine arts and collectibles said fourth- quarter profit fell 26 percent as sales slid.
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