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European stocks declined for the first time in three days, erasing an earlier advance, as confidence among U.S. consumers dropped and shares of energy companies retreated.
In the U.S., the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index dropped to 70.2 in March from a revised reading of 71.6 in February that was higher than initially reported. The median forecast of economists had called for a decrease to 70.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said after stock markets closed yesterday that euro-area governments should continue to take “decisive measures.” The ECB has injected more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) into the banking system since December.
National benchmark indexes fell in 13 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 Index declined 0.9 percent. Germany’s DAX Index was unchanged.
Total fell 6 percent to 38.56 euros, its biggest decline since December 2008, as the oil company assessed how to stop a leak from its Elgin platform in the U.K. North Sea. The rig supplied more than 1 percent of the U.K.’s gas last year, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest construction company, slid 5.3 percent to 50.27 euros as trading in its Australian subsidiary Leighton was halted before a quarterly review.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG added 2.2 percent to 10.70 euros. JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised its recommendation on the company to overweight from neutral, meaning that investors should own a larger proportion of the shares than are represented in benchmark indexes.
Kazakhmys Plc, Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer, rose 2.1 percent to 944.5 pence after saying that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, excluding special items, rose 3.2 percent to $2.93 billion in 2011. The company also posted a decline in profit for the year.
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