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Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index extending a weekly drop and falling to its lowest level in a month, as slowing German factory output fueled concern Europe’s economy is contracting.
Asian stocks fell today after German industrial production fell 1.3 percent in February, more than twice as much as economists’ estimates. Shares also dropped after Spanish bond yields rose to their highest compared with German debt, and French borrowing costs rose at a bond auction, adding to concern the debt crisis is spreading.
Nikkei 225 9,688.45 -395.11 -3.92%
Hang Seng 20,593 +37.42 +0.18%
S&P/ASX 200 4,319.85 -15.40 -0.36%
Shanghai Composite 2,306.55 +43.76 +1.93%
Exporters to Europe declined, with Sony sliding 2 percent to 1,634 yen. Nintendo Co., a Japanese maker of game players that gets a third of its sales in Europe, dropped 2.1 percent to 12,100 yen.
Japanese steelmakers fell after Kobe Steel Ltd. posting a 20 billion yen ($243 million) loss for the year through March that was twice as big as forecast. Japan’s fourth-biggest maker of the alloy lost 3.1 percent to 127 yen. Nippon Steel Corp., the No. 1 producer, declined 2.8 percent to 212 yen.
Hynix Semiconductor dropped 2 percent to 29,250 won after the Nikkei newspaper reported the South Korean chipmaker may make a joint bid with Toshiba Corp. for bankrupt Elpida Memory. Toshiba slipped 1.1 percent to 349 yen.
Among shares that rose, Astellas Pharma rose 3.2 percent to 3,360 yen after the drugmaker’s mirabegron treatment for overactive bladders won the backing of advisers to U.S. regulators. The drug is the first in a class of treatments for sudden urination-urge conditions that affect 42 million people in the U.S., Tokyo-based Astellas said.
European stocks fell for a third week, the longest losing streak since August, as Spain’s rising borrowing costs boosted concern the euro-area has yet to contain its debt crisis, and the U.S. Federal Reserve damped expectations for further monetary stimulus.
Spanish bonds fell for a third day today, widening the spread between yields on 10-year Spanish and German debt to more than 400 basis points for the first time since Dec. 12.
The European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1 percent on April 4. The euro- area’s economic outlook remains subject to “downside risks,” President Mario Draghi said at a press conference later that day in Frankfurt.
In the U.K., Bank of England Governor Mervyn King and his committee voted today to leave their asset-purchase program unchanged at 325 billion pounds ($514 billion), as predicted by all 39 economists.
National benchmark indexes dropped in 16 of the 18 western- European markets this week. France’s CAC 40 Index slid 3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index lost 0.8 percent and Germany’s DAX Index decreased 2.5 percent.
Banking shares led declines. Banca Popolare di Milano plunged 16 percent, while UniCredit tumbled 12 percent. Banco Santander SA, Spain’s largest bank, slipped 6.2 percent. Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-biggest lender, lost 7.8 percent.
Auto companies were among the worst-performing industries on the Stoxx 600. A report on April 4 showed U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose to a 14.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, falling short of the 14.5 million median estimate of 16 analysts.
Peugeot SA led losses, dropping 10 percent. Renault SA slid 3.9 percent and Volkswagen AG decreased 2.2 percent.
Veolia Environnement SA tumbled 9.9 percent this week. Deutsche Bank AG cut its recommendation today on the shares to sell from neutral. Les Echos said on April 4 without citing anyone that the company may decide to take sole control of Societe Nationale Maritime Corse Mediterranee.
U.S. stocks slid this week, giving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index its biggest decline of the year, after the Federal Reserve signaled it will refrain from further monetary stimulus and concern about Europe intensified.
Equities failed to build on the S&P 500’s best first- quarter rally since 1998. Minutes from the March 13 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed that the central bank will refrain from increasing monetary accommodation unless economic expansion falters or prices rise at a rate slower than its 2 percent target. Concern about Europe’s debt crisis intensified as Spain sold 2.59 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of bonds at an auction, less than the maximum target of 3.5 billion euros.
The S&P 500 surged 12 percent from January through March as data on manufacturing, real estate and the labor market boosted optimism about the world’s largest economy. Reports this week showed manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than forecast while jobless claims dropped to the lowest level in four years. The Labor Department report today is projected by economists to show the nation added more than 200,000 jobs for a fourth straight month.
Dow 13,060.14 -151.90 -1.15%, Nasdaq 3,080.50 -14.86 -0.48%, S&P 500 1,398.08 -10.39 -0.74%
SanDisk tumbled 11 percent to $44.09. The biggest maker of flash-memory cards predicted revenue in the quarter that ended April 1 of about $1.2 billion. That compared with an earlier forecast for sales of $1.3 billion to $1.35 billion. SanDisk cited weaker-than-expected pricing and demand for components that store data in mobile phones.
Apple, the world’s biggest company by market value, advanced 5.7 percent to a record $633.68 after its new iPad was named the best tablet computer in a ranking by Consumer Reports. Constellation Brands slipped 8.4 percent to $21.61. The world’s largest wine company said full-year earnings per share may be $1.93 to $2.03. Analysts projected profit of $2.23, on average.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. rose 9.2 percent to $71.85. The retail-chain operator posted a fourth-quarter profit of $1.48 a share, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.32.
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