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European stocks closed little changed at an 18-month high as China’s industrial output and retail sales exceeded forecasts, offsetting concern a leadership change in Italy will disrupt efforts to reduce debt.
In China, industrial output and retail sales exceeded forecasts last month in signs the economic recovery is accelerating. Factory production climbed 10.1 percent in November from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, compared with the 9.8 percent median estimate of analysts. Retail sales growth accelerated to 14.9 percent.
National benchmark indexes gained in 10 of the 18 western European markets. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 added 0.2 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent.
The FTSE MIB slid 2.2 percent as Monti said he will quit after losing support in Parliament. Silvio Berlusconi, his predecessor, announced a return to politics and criticized Monti for running a “German-centric” program. Monti will try to corral his coalition for a vote to pass the budget before handing in his resignation, President Giorgio Napolitano’s office said on Dec. 8.
UniCredit declined 5.2 percent to 3.46 euros, the biggest drop in four months, as a gauge of banks in the Stoxx 600 slid 0.9 percent.
Fiat SpA, Italy’s largest carmaker lost 3.5 percent to 3.49 euros, snapping four days of gains. Finmeccanica SpA, the Italian defense contractor, retreated 2.2 percent to 4 euros.
STMicroelectronics gained 4.2 percent to 5.21 euros in Milan. The European chipmaker struggling with weakening demand and competition from Asia will sell its stake in the ST-Ericsson joint venture by the third quarter of next year as part of a new strategy to make the company more profitable.
Oriflame Cosmetics SA, which sells beauty products through 3 million consultants worldwide, rose 4.2 percent to 196.50 kronor as Danske Bank A/S said it may report profit that will beat analyst estimates.
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