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01.06.2012 18:14

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European stocks fell to a five-month low as reports showed U.S. payrolls increased at the slowest pace in a year and the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose, adding to weakening economic data from China and the euro area.

U.S. payrolls climbed by 69,000 last month, less than the most-pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, after a revised 77,000 gain in April that was smaller than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed. The median estimate called for a 150,000 May advance. The jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent, while hours worked declined.

Euro-area unemployment reached the highest on record as a deepening economic slump and budget cuts prompted companies from Spain to Italy to cut jobs.

China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.4 in May from 53.3 in April, the nation’s statistics bureau and logistics federation said.

National benchmark indexes fell in all of the 18 western European markets today. Germany’s DAX dropped 3.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 1.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 declined 2.2 percent.

Preferred shares of Volkswagen AG dropped 4.1 percent to 123.75 euros, its third day of declines. Daimler and BMW fell 5.1 percent to 35.52 euros and 3.9 percent to 58.72 euros, respectively. A gauge of automakers was the worst performer of the 19 industry groups on Stoxx 600.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s biggest brewer, fell 3.2 percent to 53 euros after the Brazilian government raised beer taxes more than anticipated. AB InBev owns Cia. de Bebidas das Americas, Brazil’s biggest brewer and gets about 30 percent of its earnings before interest and taxes from the country.

Swatch Group AG and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA fell 4.7 percent to 355.90 francs and 6.1 percent to 52 francs as China’s manufacturing slowdown raised concerns that demand for Swiss watches will decline in the country.

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