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European stocks dropped for the first time in five days after data showed Chinese manufacturing shrank for a second month and Federal Reserve minutes signaled stimulus cuts will continue. U.S. equity-index futures were little changed, while Asian shares declined.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.8 percent to 332.31 at 9:43 a.m. in London. The benchmark rallied 4.6 percent since Feb. 4 through yesterday as Fed Chair Janet Yellen pledged to continue her predecessor’s approach to stimulus policy.
A Chinese manufacturing index fell to the lowest level in seven months, data showed today. The preliminary February reading of 48.3 for a purchasing managers’ index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics came in lower than January’s final figure of 49.5 and the 49.5 median estimate. A number below 50 indicates contraction.
Fed policy makers said they would soon have to modify their commitment to keep the benchmark interest rate near zero until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, according to minutes of their January meeting released yesterday.
“Participants agreed that, with the unemployment rate approaching 6.5 percent, it would soon be appropriate for the Committee to change its forward guidance in order to provide information about its decisions regarding the federal funds rate after that threshold was crossed,” the records noted.
BAE dropped 9.3 percent to 396.4 pence. Europe’s largest defense company said earnings per share will decline 5 percent to 10 percent in 2014 because of the pressure on the U.S. to contain its budget.
Randstad fell 8.4 percent to 45.02 euros, its worst retreat since August 2011. The world’s second-largest staffing company posted fourth-quarter sales that missed projections. Rabobank International downgraded the stock to hold from buy, saying profit trailed its estimate. Exane BNP Paribas said analysts may reduce their price estimates for Randstad after weak results.
TUI slid 4.8 percent to 13.10 euros, its biggest decline since August. Monteray Enterprises Ltd., controlled by trusts of Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen’s family, was selling a 15.7 percent stake in the owner of Europe’s largest travel company, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.
FTSE 100 6,777.38 -19.33 -0.28%
CAC 40 4,321.24 -19.86 -0.46%
DAX 9,543.44 -116.61 -1.21%
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