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European stocks were little changed as data showing the number of Americans filing jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week offset investor concern that budget wrangling in Washington will lead to a government shutdown.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.1 percent to 312.76 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The gauge has dropped 0.5 percent so far this week amid concern that U.S. politicians will fail to approve a federal budget for the new financial year. It has still climbed 5.2 percent in September as the Federal Reserve refrained from reducing its monthly asset purchases, and has surged 9.8 percent since the end of June, heading for the biggest quarterly gain in four years.
In the U.S., jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 305,000 in the week ended Sept. 21, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists called for an increase to 325,000.
Gross domestic product in the world’s largest economy rose at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, unrevised from the previous estimate, after expanding 1.1 percent in the first quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today. The median forecast of economists was for a 2.6 percent pace.
U.S. lawmakers have until Monday to agree to an emergency budget to keep the federal government operating from Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, through Dec. 15. Failure to pass the bill may lead to a government shutdown.
National benchmark indexes advanced in nine of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,565.59 +14.06 +0.21% CAC 40 4,186.72 -8.63 -0.21% DAX 8,664.1 -1.53 0.02%
Ladbrokes plunged 7.4 percent to 174.1 pence, dropping for an eighth day. The chain of bookmakers said 2013 operating profit for its digital division will be below current market expectations because of a lack of competitiveness and lower-than-planned ">Thomas Cook lost 6.8 percent to 145.1 pence, its biggest decline since Sept. 4. The tour operator said winter bookings started more slowly than last year across most markets due to geopolitical events and warm weather in Europe.
Colruyt SA fell 4.2 percent to 42.20 euros. Belgium’s biggest discount food retailer forecast full-year net income of about 369 million euros ($498 million) compared with analysts’ estimates of 381.2 million euros.
Centrica Plc, the largest energy supplier to U.K. homes, lost 2.6 percent to 366 pence. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the shares to neutral from overweight, citing proposals from Britain’s Labour Party to freeze energy bills and break up the country’s six biggest power suppliers.
ICAP Plc dropped 2.1 percent to 380.3 pence, taking its two-day decline to 4 percent. The shares fell yesterday after U.K. and U.S. authorities fined the broker $88 million on charges of rigging key interest rates.
H&M gained 6.8 percent to 281.80 kronor. Third-quarter profit increased 22 percent to 4.43 billion kronor ($690 million) in the three months ended Aug. 31, Stockholm-based H&M said in a statement. That compares with the 4.15 billion-kronor average estimate of analysts.
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