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European stocks retreated, following three days of gains, as investors awaited a report on U.S. housing starts, while companies from Societe Television Francaise 1 (TFI) to Lafarge SA (LG) reported results. U.S. index futures declined, while Asian shares were little changed.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 333.6 at 11:05 a.m. in London. The benchmark has climbed 5 percent from its low on Feb. 4 as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she would continue her predecessor’s approach toward the central bank’s bond-buying program. The gauge is 0.8 percent below the six-year high it reached on Jan. 22.
In the U.S., a Commerce Department report will probably show housing starts fell to a 943,000 annual pace in January from a 999,000 rate in December, according to economists.
The Fed releases the minutes of its Jan. 28-29 meeting after European markets close today. At the meeting -- the last under former chairman Ben S. Bernanke -- policy makers reduced the bank’s monthly asset purchases to $65 billion, citing the improved outlook for the labor market.
In the U.K., the minutes from the last meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee showed that the policy makers did not hold a vote on the new phase of forward guidance introduced by Governor Mark Carney. The central bank has changed its focus to the amount of spare capacity in the economy, rather than concentrating on the unemployment rate.
TF1 declined 1.7 percent to 13.66 euros after saying 2013 sales fell 5.7 percent to 2.47 billion euros ($3.4 billion). Analysts on average had predicted revenue of 2.5 billion euros.
Lafarge gained 3 percent to 54.20 euros as the world’s second-biggest cement maker said fourth-quarter net income rose to 213 million euros from 83 million euros a year earlier. That exceeded the 198 million-euro average prediction of analysts.
Carlsberg jumped 6 percent to 579 kroner. The Danish brewer reported fourth-quarter earnings before interest and taxes of 2.32 billion kroner ($427 million), beating the 2.19 billion kroner estimated by analysts. The company also posted sales of 15.7 billion kroner for the period, beating the 15.5 billion-krone average forecast.
FTSE 100 6,772.79 -23.64 -0.35%
CAC 40 4,318.96 -11.75 -0.27%
DAX 9,620.14 -39.64 -0.41%
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