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20.03.2013 08:23

Stocks: Tuesday’s review

Asian stocks pared gains after a report suggested Cyprus’ parliament won’t approve a tax on bank deposits needed to secure a euro-zone bailout.

Nikkei 225 12,468.23 +247.60 +2.03%

Hang Seng 22,041.86 -41.50 -0.19%

S&P/ASX 200 4,987.4 -28.00 -0.56%

Shanghai Composite 2,257.43 +17.42 +0.78%

Esprit Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based clothier that counts Europe as its No. 1 market, gained 2.2 percent, paring gains of as much as 5.7 percent.

Alacer Gold Corp. advanced 2.3 percent in Sydney as gold traded near its highest in three weeks.

Mainland utilities gained after profit from China Resources Power Holdings Co. beat estimates, raising expectations the group may outperform.

European stocks dropped for a third day as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said lawmakers will probably reject a 5.8 billion-euro ($7.5 billion) bank-deposit levy needed to win a European Union-led bailout.

Cypriot lawmakers began debating how to spread the proposed tax on bank deposits among account holders today. The levy, announced March 16, sparked outrage in the island nation and concern among investors about setting a precedent by breaking the taboo against raiding accounts.

Parliament will probably reject the proposals, Anastasiades told Sweden’s TV4 channel in an interview. Banks and stock markets in Cyprus are closed until Thursday.

Stocks fell even as German investor confidence rose to the highest level in almost three years in March. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations gained to 48.5 from 48.2 in February. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had predicted 48.1.

National benchmark indexes declined in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent and France’s CAC 40 sank 1.2 percent.

Rio Tinto, the world’s second-biggest mining company, retreated 5.4 percent to 3,099.5 pence, the largest drop since November 2011. Goldman Sachs downgraded its rating on the stock to conviction sell from neutral, saying it estimates earnings declines for the commodity producer after cutting iron ore price forecasts for the next three years on oversupply.

ThyssenKrupp plunged 5.6 percent to 17.34 euros, the biggest retreat since March 6, 2012. Germany’s largest steelmaker is preparing to sell more than 1 billion euros of shares to increase its capital, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified people close to the company. ThyssenKrupp decline to comment, the newspaper said.

Richemont declined 4.5 percent to 75.95 Swiss francs, its biggest drop since Jan. 21. Goldman Sachs managed the sale of about 7 million Richemont shares for 77 francs each, according to two people familiar with the deal.

ARM Holdings Plc declined 2.8 percent to 895 pence after saying Chief Executive Officer Warren East will retire in July after nearly 12 years in the role. The designer of chips for Apple Inc. iPhones said Simon Segars, currently president of ARM, will take over.

Iliad SA, the French low-cost mobile carrier, surged 6.1 percent to 158.8 euros, the highest since at least 2004. Net income was 186.5 million euros for 2012, beating all but one of the eight analyst estimates.

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its longest slump of the year, as Cypriot lawmakers’ rejection of a bank levy overshadowed data showing growth in new-home construction.

Stocks fell as Cyprus’s parliament rejected an unprecedented levy on bank deposits, dealing a blow to European plans to force savers to shoulder part of the country’s bailout in a standoff that risks renewed tumult in the euro area. Hammered out by euro-area finance chiefs at the weekend, the deal had sought to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) by drawing funds from Cyprus bank accounts in return for 10 billion euros in international aid.

Equities trimmed losses late in the trading day after the European Central Bank reaffirmed its commitment to provide liquidity “as needed within the existing rules.”

The S&P 500 rose earlier as a Commerce Department report showed builders broke ground on 917,000 homes at an annual rate, up 0.8 percent from a revised 910,000 pace in January that was higher than initially estimated. Building permits, a proxy for future construction, advanced 4.6 percent to 946,000, the strongest since June 2008.

The Federal Open Market Committee began a two-day meeting today. The policy makers agreed in December to link record-low interest rates to thresholds for unemployment and inflation so that investors and households know what conditions will prompt the Federal Reserve to consider raising rates.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the biggest U.S. iron ore producer, tumbled 6.6 percent to $20.33. Goldman Sachs trimmed its price forecast on the commodity, citing seaborne expansion projects and increasing production in China.

Juniper Networks Inc. fell 5.3 percent to $19.14. Goldman Sachs downgraded the No. 2 maker of networking gear to sell from neutral, citing competition from Cisco Systems Inc. and Alcatel- Lucent.

At the close:

DJIA 14,455.80 +3.76 0.03%

S&P 500 1,548.34 -3.76 -0.24%

NASDAQ 3,229.09 -8.50 -0.26%

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