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Asian stocks rose, snapping a two- day loss, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said accommodative monetary policy is still needed and a report showed German business confidence unexpectedly gained, improving the earnings outlook for Asian exporters.
Nikkei 225 10,255.15 +236.91 +2.36%
Hang Seng 21,010.96 +342.10 +1.66%
S&P/ASX 200 4,301.33 +38.53 +0.90%
Shanghai Composite 2,347.18 -3.42 -0.15%
Honda Motor Co., a Japanese carmaker that gets 83 percent of its sales abroad, added 2.5 percent.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second-biggest lender by market value, added 2 percent after German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she stands ready to do more to tame Europe’s debt crisis.
Korea Gas Corp., the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas importer, jumped 8.9 percent in Seoul after its Italian partner found reserves in Mozambique.
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.
U.S. stocks retreated as a report showing American consumer confidence near the strongest level in a year failed to encourage investors after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced to an almost four-year high.
The Conference Board’s confidence index dropped to 70.2 from a revised 71.6 reading in February that was higher than initially reported. The median forecast of economists called for a decrease to 70. The S&P/Case- Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 3.8 percent from a year earlier, after decreasing 4.1 percent in December.
Dow 13,243.33 +1.70 +0.01%, Nasdaq 3,130.49 +7.92 +0.25%, S&P 500 1,417.04 +0.53 +0.04%
Seven out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 fell. Financial shares had the biggest decline among 10 industries, dropping 1 percent. Bank of America (ВАС) dropped 3.3 percent to $9.60 after being downgraded to neutral at Robert W. Baird. The 12-month share-price estimate is $10.
Apollo Group slumped 8.5 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $39.54. Co-Chief Executive Officer Gregory Cappelli told investors on a conference call that new enrollments will continue to be “volatile.” Credit Suisse Group AG cut its recommendation for the shares to neutral.
A measure of homebuilders in S&P indexes gained 2.9 percent. Lennar rallied 4.7 percent to $27.63. Net income for the three months ended Feb. 29 fell to $15 million, or 8 cents a share, from $27.4 million, or 14 cents, a year earlier. Lennar was expected to earn about 5 cents a share, the average estimate of 20 analysts.
Pfizer climbed 1.5 percent, the most in the Dow, to $22.50. The shares have increased 8.3 percent since July 6, the day before Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said the New York-based company was exploring strategic alternatives for its animal health and nutrition businesses.
Walgreen Co. added 1.3 percent to $34.80. The largest U.S. drugstore chain reported second-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates after new grocery and household items boosted sales.
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