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European stocks dropped the most this year as Saipem (SPM) SpA plunged and a report showed that the U.S. economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter.
Saipem plummeted 34 percent after cutting its earnings forecasts for 2012 and 2013. Swedbank AB (SWEDA) jumped the most in 32 months after the lender raised its dividend payout ratio to 75 percent of profit after net income more than quadrupled in the fourth quarter. Nordea Bank AB (NDA) rose 3.2 percent after reporting quarterly profit that beat analysts’
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.6 percent to 288.63 in London, falling from its highest level since Feb. 18, 2011.
The U.S economy shrank 0.1 percent at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, figures from the Commerce Department showed today. The median estimate of economists had called for the world’s largest economy to expand 1.1 percent. Gross domestic product increased 3.1 percent in the three months through September.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 14 of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,323.11 -16.08 -0.25% CAC 40 3,765.52 -20.30 -0.54% DAX 7,811.31 -37.26 -0.47%
Saipem plunged 34 percent to 20.01 euros, its biggest slide since at least Dec. 1988. The oil and gas contractor lowered its forecast for earnings before interest and taxes in 2012 by 6 percent to about 1.5 billion euros. Ebit will fall to about 750 million euros in 2013, the company said. Italy’s FTSE MIB sank 3.4 percent, its biggest drop since Aug. 2.
Roche Holding AG retreated 1.4 percent to 198.60 Swiss francs. The world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs posted earnings per share excluding some items of 13.62 francs for last year, falling short of the 13.67-franc average analyst estimate.
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc sank 4.3 percent to 2,361 pence after saying profit will decline in the first half of this year. Europe’s second-biggest tobacco company also reported a smaller gain in fiscal first-quarter revenue than analysts had estimated. British American Tobacco Plc, Europe’s largest, dropped 0.8 percent to 3,275.50 pence.
Nordea rose 3.2 percent to 68.45 kronor after Scandinavia’s largest lender said profit increased 7 percent in the fourth quarter. Net income climbed to 840 million euros from 785 million euros a year earlier, the lender said. That beat the average analyst estimate for profit of 765 million euros.
Luxottica Group SpA added 2.3 percent to 34.36 euros, its highest price since its initial public offering on Italy’s stock market in December 2000. The owner of the Oakley and Ray-Ban sunglasses brands said sales rose 14 percent in 2012 to 7.09 billion euros.
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