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22.03.2012 19:13

European stocks close:

 

European stocks fell for a fourth day, the longest losing streak since November, as manufacturing contracted in China and the euro area.

A preliminary measure of Chinese manufacturing fell to 48.1 this month, according to HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. That’s the lowest reading on the purchase managers’ index since November and compares with a final 49.6 in February. A result below 50 indicates a contraction.

European services and manufacturing output contracted more than forecast in March. A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries dropped to 48.7 from 49.3 in February, according to Markit.

National benchmark indexes fell in all of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.8 percent, France’s CAC 40 retreated 1.6 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 1.3 percent.

Randgold plunged 13 percent to 5,765 pence, the largest decline since October 2008. A Malian army officer said the country’s constitution has been suspended and all state institutions dissolved because of the government’s “incompetence.”

Baloise slid 6.6 percent to 71.05 Swiss francs after saying profit dropped 86 percent last year on investment losses and a writedown on Greek sovereign debt.

Hermes International SCA rose 2.3 percent to 249.80 euros after the French maker of Kelly bags and silk scarves posted earnings that exceeded analyst projections and offered a bonus dividend to shareholders.

Lanxess AG, the German chemical maker spun off from Bayer AG in 2005, jumped 8.5 percent to 61.05 euros, the largest gain since November 2009, after reporting fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on higher demand from Brazil and China.

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