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03.02.2014 18:21

European stocks close

European stocks declined, following their worst start to a year since 2010, as Lloyds Banking Group Plc dragged a gauge of banks lower and a report showed U.S. manufacturing expanded at the slowest pace in eight months.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.3 percent to 318.21 at the close of trading, dropping to its lowest level in six weeks. The benchmark slid 1.8 percent in January. It has slumped 5.3 percent from a six-year high on Jan. 22 as the Argentinian government’s decision to allow the peso to devalue triggered a rout in emerging-market currencies.

In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing gauge fell to 51.3 in January from a revised 56.5 in December. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had projected the index would drop to 56. Numbers above 50 mean activity climbed.

In China, a release showed manufacturing output slowed in January to its lowest level in six months. The purchasing managers’ index fell to 50.5 from 51, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Feb. 1. A separate report today showed British manufacturing also expanded last month at a slower pace than in December, missing the median economist prediction.

National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western-European markets today. Germany’s DAX slid 1.3 percent and France’s CAC 40 retreated 1.4 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.7 percent.

Lloyds retreated 4 percent to 79.99 pence. The lender, which is 33 percent-owned by the U.K. government, also said it will not apply to the Prudential Regulatory Authority to resume dividend payouts until the second half of this year.

Julius Baer Group Ltd. declined 5.9 percent to 41.44 Swiss francs after saying net new money climbed 4 percent to 7.6 billion francs ($8.4 billion) in 2013. The wealth manager said in November that it would target annualized growth of 4 percent to 6 percent.

Colruyt slumped 8.8 percent to 38.41 euros. The Belgian discount food retailer said it will report a smaller profit for the year ending March 31 because sales growth has slowed in the last three months and the company has lost market share. It had predicted in November that profit would remain little changed. Colruyt reports its annual financial results on June 23.

Dufry AG declined 2.9 percent to 138.20 francs. Citigroup Inc. lowered its rating on the operator of duty-free shops to sell from neutral. Analyst Mauro Baragiola said passengers from Argentina, Brazil, Turkey and Ukraine may spend less in dollars or euros because their home currencies have slumped. The shares retreated 9.1 percent in January.

Randgold Resources Ltd. rose 6.3 percent to 4,455 pence, its biggest gain since September. Gold production increased 15 percent in 2013, while costs fell 3 percent to $715 per ounce, the company said in a statement.

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