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09.10.2012 17:15

European stocks close:

European stocks declined for a second day as the region’s finance ministers gathered in Luxembourg to discuss the sovereign-debt crisis.

Bankia SA (BKIA) led the decline, falling to a two-month low. Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) SA dropped to the lowest in at least 23 years as Credit Suisse Group AG said weakness should continue into the third quarter. Vedanta Resources Plc led mining companies higher, limiting losses in Europe.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.5 percent to 270.20 in London.

National benchmark indexes fell in all but two of the 18 western European (SXXP) markets.

FTSE 100 5,803.2 -38.54 -0.66% CAC 40 3,382.25 -24.28 -0.71% DAX 7,231.16 -60.05 -0.82%  

Finance ministers from all the 27 countries in the European Union convened in Luxembourg today in the lead up to a summit of the region’s leaders in Brussels on Oct. 18-19.

Ministers from the 17-nation euro area yesterday declared the 500 billion-euro ($649 billion) European Stability Mechanism operational. They also said Spain, the permanent rescue fund’s biggest potential near-term customer, isn’t on the verge of tapping it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Greece today for the first time since the debt crisis began in 2009 after the finance ministers yesterday hailed the country’s determination to cut its budget and reshape its economy, raising the chances that aid will keep flowing to Greece.

Dow Jones reported that Greece’s creditors are yet to reach an agreement on how best to tackle the country’s debt crisis. The newswire cited people with direct knowledge of the matter.

In Washington, the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts to 3.3 percent this year, the slowest since the 2009 recession, and reduced its estimate for next year to 3.6 percent. That compares with July predictions of 3.5 percent in 2012 and 3.9 percent in 2013.

Bankia dropped 9.8 percent to 98 euro cents, extending its losses since Sept. 21 to 32 percent. The lender’s parent company, BFA, will book losses of more than 4.5 billion euros this year as it cleans up the balance sheet, Expansion reported today. The newspaper said the company will return to profit from 2013, without saying where it got the information.

Banco Popular Espanol SA (POP), Spain’s sixth-largest lender by assets, dropped 2.7 percent to 1.43 euros, for a 10th day of losses.

Alcatel-Lucent dropped 5.1 percent to 73.9 euro cents, the lowest price since at least October 1989, as Credit Suisse reiterated its underperform recommendation for the French phone- equity supplier, the equivalent of a sell rating. Analysts said “weak trends” in the first half may continue into the third quarter.

Leoni AG (LEO) and Aggreko Plc (AGK) declined 4.3 percent to 28.87 euros and 3.4 percent to 2,240 pence, respectively, after HSBC Holdings Plc downgraded both companies to neutral from overweight, a recommendation similar to buy. Capita Plc slid 3.7 percent to 740 pence as its shares were cut at Panmure Gordon & Co. and Seymour Pierce Ltd. to sell and hold, respectively.

Marine Harvest ASA (MHG) slid 3.1 percent to 4.75 kroner after the world’s biggest salmon farmer said its third-quarter profit will miss analyst forecasts because of “challenging market conditions” in Chile and Canada.

Vedanta Resources (VED) paced advancing shares on the Stoxx 600, climbing 2.1 percent to 1,090 pence. The company reported a 22 percent increase in oil and gas output for the second quarter to a record after ramping up production at its Rajasthan block in India.

Rio Tinto Group gained 1.5 percent to 3,030 pence. The world’s third-largest mining company today said it will deepen cost cutting efforts after it lowered its estimates for China’s economic growth to below 8 percent.

STMicroelectronics NV (STM) climbed 2.9 percent to 4.44 euros after Europe’s largest semiconductor company and Ericsson AB said they’re working with an adviser on options for their unprofitable chipmaking venture ST-Ericsson.

Hays Plc (HAS) jumped 5.7 percent to 79.5 pence, the biggest advance on the Stoxx 600. The shares rebounded from yesterday’s 4.4 percent selloff after the U.K. recruiter reported first- quarter net fees that fell less than estimated.

Market Focus

  • The eurozone started the third quarter on a solid footing, according to PMI survey data
  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • German private sector output growth slowed for the second month running in July
  • ECB's Mersch says as conditions normalise, it is unlikely that uncoventional policies will remain necessary
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