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European stocks declined as Italy’s inconclusive parliamentary election renewed concern that the Mediterranean nation will dilute its austerity program and the region’s sovereign-debt crisis will deepen.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) fell 1.3 percent to 284.60 at the close of trading, the biggest loss since Feb. 21.
Confidence among U.S. consumers rebounded more than forecast in February from its weakest level since November 2011. The Conference Board’s index increased to 69.6 from a revised 58.4 in January. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 76 economists called for a gain to 62.
National benchmark indexes dropped in all 18 western European markets, except Ireland and Denmark.
FTSE 100 6,270.44 -84.93 -1.34% CAC 40 3,621.92 -99.41 -2.67% DAX 7,597.11 -176.08 -2.27%
Telecom Italia plunged 7.3 percent to 55 euro cents, the lowest price since August 1997.
SEB SA dropped 3.5 percent to 58.94 euros after reporting full-year net income of 194.2 million euros ($254 million), missing the average analyst estimate for 206.6 million euros.
BASF lost 4.5 percent to 71.66 euros, the sharpest decrease since April. Earnings before interest, tax and one-time items increased 18 percent to 1.8 billion euros in the fourth quarter, the company said today. That missed the median analyst estimate of 1.83 billion euros.
William Demant Holding A/S (WDH), a maker of hearing aids, dropped 5.6 percent to 454.90 kroner, its largest retreat since Aug. 16. The Smorum, Denmark-based company said it expects 2013 Ebit to exceed last year’s 1.65 billion ($290 million) kroner. Analysts had estimated profit of 1.99 billion kroner.
Pandora A/S added 3.8 percent to 149 kroner. The Nordic region’s biggest jewelry maker announced a plan to buy back 700 million kroner of shares this year, equal to 3.6 percent of its current market value.
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