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European stocks fell, posting their first weekly decline in more than a month, as speculation that central banks will reduce stimulus measures overshadowed a bigger-than-forecast increase in U.S. durable-goods orders.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 303.35 at the close in London. The gauge lost 1.7 percent this week, the first weekly decline since April 19, as the Federal Reserve signaled it will scale back stimulus if the economy improves.
U.S. orders for durable goods climbed 3.3 percent in April after falling by the most in seven months in March, figures from the Commerce Department showed. Economists survey had estimated a 1.5 percent gain.
In Germany, business confidence increased for the first time in three months. The Ifo institute's business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, advanced to 105.7 in May from 104.4 in April. Economists in survey predicted sentiment to remain unchanged.
National benchmark indexes declined in 12 of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,654.34 -42.45 -0.6% CAC 40 3,956.79 -10.36 -0.3% DAX 8,305.32 -46.66 -0.6%
Raiffeisen Bank International lost 2.1 percent to 26.43 euros. Herbert Stepic offered to resign as the CEO of the Vienna-based lender, a day after officials began a probe into his investments through offshore accounts.
Next Plc (NXT) dropped 2.4 percent to 4,580 pence. Morgan Stanley cut the U.K. retailer to underweight, a recommendation similar to sell, saying the stock is expensive. Next jumped this week to its highest price since at least 1988 and has rallied 24 percent this year.
Telecom Italia SpA lost 3.4 percent to 62.9 euro cents as the company delayed a decision over a proposed spinoff of its fixed-line network. Its board of directors, after a meeting in Rome yesterday, will gather on May 30 to take a final call on the plan, Milan-based Telecom Italia said.
HSBC slid 2.1 percent to 726 pence, contributing the most to a decline in the Bloomberg European 500 Index. (BE500) The Telegraph reported, without citing anyone, that the lender's $1.9 billion settlement with the U.S. government in a money-laundering case may be rejected by a judge. HSBC said in a statement it is actively supporting steps taken by regulators.
Smiths Group Plc advanced 1.5 percent to 1,355 pence after saying it expects higher second-half sales compared with a year earlier, driven by an increase in orders. So-called underlying revenue increased in all of its divisions in the first nine months of the year, the maker of airport-security scanners said.
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