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European stocks were little changed, erasing their decline in the final 90 minutes of trading, as Tenaris SA (TEN) and Vallourec SA (VK) slid after the U.S. failed to impose anti-dumping duties on South Korea in a preliminary decision.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.1 percent to 334.94 at the close after earlier dropping as much as 0.6 percent. The benchmark has climbed 5.5 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 0.3 percent below the six-year high it reached on Jan. 22.
In the U.S., a Commerce Department report showed that housing starts fell to an annual pace of 880,000 in January from a revised rate of 1.05 million in December. That missed the median estimate of 950,000 in a Bloomberg survey.
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.
National benchmark indexes dropped in six of the 18 western-European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX added less than 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.2 percent.
Tenaris, which generated 49 percent of its 2012 revenue from North America, slid 6.9 percent to 15.96 euros. Vallourec, which got 29 percent of sales from the region, retreated 4.5 percent to 37.41 euros.
The U.S. Commerce Department refrained from imposing anti-dumping penalties on imports of steel tubing from South Korea in a decision late yesterday. It set tariffs on products from eight other countries. The exemption for South Korea will probably reduce Tenaris’s earnings by about 8 percent, or $200 million, and Vallourec’s profit by about 5 percent, or $75 million, according to Raphael Veverka, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.
Lafarge gained 3.2 percent to 54.30 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 surveyed by Bloomberg.
Carlsberg jumped 7.1 percent to 585 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 in a Bloomberg survey. The company also posted sales of 15.7 billion kroner for the period, beating the 15.5 billion-krone average forecast.
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