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Asian stocks fell, with a regional benchmark index headed for its biggest drop in almost two weeks, after the cost of insuring against a Spanish default climbed and U.S. consumer confidence dropped, clouding the earnings outlook for Asia’s exporters.
Nikkei 225 9,470.64 -167.35 -1.74%
Hang Seng 20,600.46 -100.58 -0.49%
S&P/ASX 200 4,302.3 -21.01 -0.49%
Shanghai Composite 2,357.03 -2.13 -0.09%
Nintendo Co. a manufacturer of game consoles that gets a third of its sales in Europe, fell 3.2 percent in Osaka.
James Hardie Industries SE, an Australian supplier of building materials that gets more than half of its sales from the U.S., dropped 1.2 percent in Sydney.
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. declined 1 percent in Hong Kong after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was said to sell a $2.5 billion stake at a discount.
European stocks rebounded from their longest stretch of weekly losses since August as companies from International Power Plc to Royal KPN NV rallied amid an increase in takeover activity.
The benchmark Stoxx 600 has risen 4 percent this year as the European Central Bank disbursed more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to the region’s lenders and as U.S. economic reports topped forecasts. The number of shares changing hands on gauge today was 4.8 percent greater than the average over 30 days.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 12 of the 17 western- European markets that were open today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 percent. France’s CAC 40 increased 0.5 percent. Greece’s stock market was closed for the Orthodox Easter holiday.
International Power added 3.2 percent to 416.8 pence after GDF Suez agreed to buy the 30 percent stake at a revised price of 418 pence a share. That’s 7 percent more than an earlier offer of 390 pence that the U.K. utility rejected as too low. GDF increased 5 percent to 18.86 euros as Europe’s biggest utility by market value confirmed that it will raise its 2012 targets if the deal goes through.
KPN rose 0.9 percent to 7.12 euros after the Netherlands’ largest phone company said it has started a review of Belgian mobile-phone unit, BASE. The business will probably attract interest from private-equity firms such as Apax Partners LLP, according to people familiar with the situation. BASE may fetch 1.8 billion euros in a sale.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S surged 13 percent to 55.55 kroner for the biggest gain on the Stoxx 600. Jyllands-Posten reported that Sinovel Wind Group Co. and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. are considering bidding for the Danish company.
Most U.S. stocks advanced, following the biggest weekly loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in 2012, as a stronger-than-forecast increase in retail sales bolstered optimism about the world’s largest economy.
The S&P 500 swung between gains and losses as banks rallied, while technology shares slumped. Retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March, almost three times as large as projected. Investors also watched earnings reports.
Dow 12,921.41 +71.82 +0.56%, Nasdaq 2,988.40 -22.93 -0.76%, S&P 500 1,369.57 -0.69 -0.05%
Citigroup gained 1.8 percent to $34. Fixed-income trading revenue jumped to $4.74 billion from $1.72 billion in the last three months of 2011 and $3.98 billion a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. David Trone, an analyst in New York with JMP Securities LLC, predicted fixed- income revenue of $2.78 billion.
Procter & Gamble (PG) rallied 1.5 percent, the second-biggest gain in the Dow, to $66.78. The Cincinnati-based company lifted its quarterly dividend to 56.2 cents a share from 52.5 cents.
Apple, which soared 43 percent in 2012, dropped 4.2 percent to $580.13 today. Verizon Wireless, a U.S. partner of Apple, said last week that it will begin charging customers $30 to upgrade to a new phone. The move suggests mobile-phone service providers may take other steps, including trimming subsidies, to keep sales of the iPhone from eating into their margins, said Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG LLC in New York.
Mattel slumped 9.1 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $31.01. North American retailers kept inventories of toys and dolls tight, causing first-quarter sales to trail analysts’ estimates.
Gannett Co. tumbled 7.7 percent to $13.89. The owner of 82 daily newspapers including USA Today reported a 25 percent drop in first-quarter prof.
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