European stocks posted their longest losing streak in eight weeks amid speculation that the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July meeting will give further details of when the central bank will slow its monthly bond purchases.
Investors will scrutinize the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s July 30-31 meeting for signs of when the Fed will begin to reduce the $85 billion pace of monthly bond purchases. The U.S. central bank will start to scale back bond buying next month, according to 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg from Aug. 9-13. The median estimate called for purchases to drop to $75 billion a month. The Fed publishes the minutes after the close of European trading today.
National benchmark indexes declined in 14 of the 18 western-European markets today. Germany’s DAX dropped 0.2 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 1 percent. France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.3 percent.
Heineken dropped 4 percent to 53.29 euros. The Amsterdam-based company reported adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 1.33 billion euros ($1.8 billion) for the first half, missing the average analyst estimate of 1.34 billion euros. The brewer of the eponymous lager also said that the poor weather in Europe in the spring will affect its full-year earnings.
HSBC, Europe’s largest lender, fell 2.3 percent to 682 pence as bank stocks contributed the most to the Stoxx 600’s retreat. BHP Billiton lost 2.6 percent to 1,873 pence.
Vestas rallied 5.4 percent to 109 kroner after naming Anders Runevad as CEO. Runevad will succeed Ditlev Engel on Sept. 1 following two successive years of losses. The company also increased its forecast for free cash flow in 2013 to 200 million euros. It had projected positive cash flow this year.
Veolia Environnement SA jumped 8.3 percent to 11.46 euros, its highest price in 16 months. Morgan Stanley added Europe’s biggest water company to its best-ideas list.
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