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Most European stocks declined as reports showed the economies of the euro area and Japan shrank in the fourth quarter, outweighing a decrease in American jobless claims.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index retreated 0.2 percent to 287.79 at the close, paring an earlier drop of as much as 0.6 percent, as releases showed the economies of Germany, France and Italy all contracted more than estimated.
Euro area gross domestic product fell 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said. That exceeded the 0.4 percent median estimate. The German economy, Europe’s largest, shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, while French GDP fell 0.3 percent. Italy’s economy shrank 0.9 percent. All contractions exceeded the median forecasts of economists. In Japan, GDP dropped an annualized 0.4 percent, following a revised 3.8 percent decline in the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office said. The median forecast of economists called for 0.4 percent growth.
National benchmark indexes fell in 13 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,327.36 -31.75 -0.50% CAC 40 3,669.6 -28.93 -0.78% DAX 7,631.19 -80.70 -1.05%
Nestle dropped 2.3 percent to 63 Swiss francs. The company said its sales excluding acquisitions, disposals and currency changes increased 5.9 percent in 2012. That was less than the 6 percent average estimate of analysts.
Britvic Plc lost 7.1 percent to 390 pence, a 10-week low. The U.K. distributor of Pepsi was downgraded at Societe Generale SA, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc. A.G. Barr Plc called off its planned acquisition of Britvic yesterday after the Office of Fair Trading referred the deal to the Competition Commission.
Bankia SA, the lender recently ejected from Spain’s benchmark IBEX 35 Index, slumped 12 percent to 41 euro cents. The bank will convert bonds to equity at 1 euro cent per share as part of its reorganization, Expansion reported.
Renault advanced 7.7 percent to 46.50 euros, its biggest gain since September 2011. France’s second-largest carmaker said earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items totaled 729 million euros ($971.5 million). That beat the 698 million-euro average estimate.
ABB rose 5.6 percent to 20.81 francs, its biggest advance in 18 months, after reporting earnings that surpassed analyst estimates. The world’s largest maker of power transformers said it will continue to focus on cutting costs this year amid an uncertain economic outlook.
BNP Paribas SA gained 2 percent to 46.75 euros. The bank plans to reduce its annual cost base by 2 billion euros by 2015. BNP plans to increase its dividend to 1.50 euros a share from 1.20 euros a year earlier.
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