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European stocks climbed, halting a four-day decline for the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as yields on benchmark Spanish bonds slipped amid speculation that the country’s government will soon ask for a bailout.
Euro-area finance ministers gave Greece an extra two years to cut its budget deficit to 2 percent of gross domestic product, pledging to plug the resulting financing gap to prevent the country from leaving the single currency.
Finance ministers put off until Nov. 20 a decision on how to cover additional Greek needs of as much as 32.6 billion euros ($41 billion) and left unclear whether the International Monetary Fund will continue to contribute. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde disagreed with a decision by the representatives of the 17-nation currency zone to postpone the goal of getting Greece’s debt down to 120 percent of GDP by two years, until 2022.
National benchmark indexes gained in 14 of 18 western- European markets today. France’s CAC 40 (CAC) rose 0.6 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent. Germany’s DAX climbed less than 0.1 percent.
UniCredit SpA climbed 4.4 percent to 3.52 euros. Italy’s biggest bank reported third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates after a record loss a year earlier because of writedowns. Net income increased to 335 million euros, compared with a net loss of 10.6 billion euros a year earlier when the Milan-based lender booked goodwill impairments of 8.7 billion euros. Profit surpassed the 99 million-euro average estimate of 13 analysts.
EON slumped 12 percent to 14.64 euros, its biggest retreat in 20 years, after saying yesterday its forecast of 3.2 billion euros to 3.7 billion euros of underlying net income next year “no longer seems achievable” because gas-fired power plants aren’t making money. The company also said it will consider cutting dividend payments.
Vodafone slid 2.5 percent to 162.5 pence as the announcement of the 5.9 billion-pound ($9.4 billion) impairment outweighed its decision to start a 1.5 billion-pound buyback plan. Verizon Wireless will pay an $8.5 billion dividend to its co-owners, Vodafone and Verizon Communications Inc., by the end of 2012, enabling Vodafone to finance the share buyback.
K+S AG sank 4.5 percent to 34.29 euros. Europe’s largest potash maker said it expects sales and profit in 2012 to only reach the bottom of its targeted range as delays on Chinese and Indian contracts restrain market prices for fertilizer.
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