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European stocks declined for a second day as tension escalated in Crimea, following Ukraine’s change of government.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1 percent to 337.53 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The benchmark dropped yesterday as Credit Suisse Group AG dragged banks lower after a person familiar with the matter said that the Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into its accounting last year.
“The market is split between a gross amount of liquidity and a serious situation in Crimea, and -- unfortunately -- the Crimea situation will prevail,” Justin Haque, an equity sales trader at Hobart Capital Markets LLP in London, said by telephone. “There was a lot of fizz in this market, so you only needed to have a small geopolitical earthquake, and this is actually not a small problem.”
“Instability in the Ukraine, particularly if there’s Russian intervention, will be taken very badly by markets,” Percival Stanion, the London-based head of the multi-asset group at Baring Asset Management, which manages about $60 billion, said by telephone. “People aren’t worried about Ukraine in its own right, but it would push Russia into the practically un-investable camp.”
In the U.S., Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen repeated that the central bank will probably reduce its monthly asset purchases at regular intervals if the labor market continues to improve. She testified before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington today.
A Commerce Department release showed that durable-goods orders dropped 1 percent in January. Economists had predicted the measure would fall 1.7 percent. A Labor Department report showed jobless claims unexpectedly rose by 14,000 to 348,000 last week.
National benchmark indexes declined in nine of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,818.78 +19.63 +0.29% CAC 40 4,402.69 +5.78 +0.13% DAX 9,602.61 -59.12 -0.61%
WPP dropped 3.1 percent to 1,290 pence. The world’s largest advertising company posted profit before interest and taxes of 1.66 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) for 2013. That fell short of the 1.69 billion-pound average estimate of nine analysts. Currency fluctuations lowered the company’s profit ">Allianz slid 2.1 percent to 128.20 euros. Europe’s biggest insurer reported fourth-quarter net income of 1.26 billion euros ($1.7 billion), falling short of the 1.31 billion euros projected by analysts.
RBS plunged 7.5 percent to 327.3 pence. The bank said its net loss widened to 9 billion pounds in 2013 from 6.1 billion pounds in 2012. Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan outlined plans to shrink its investment-banking and overseas operations.
Essilor International SA lost 2.9 percent to 76.58 euros. The French maker of contact lenses reported net income in 2013 of 593 million euros, missing the 608 million-euro average estimate of analysts.
A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S slipped 3.4 percent to 63,850 kroner. The world’s largest container-shipping line said Ebit declined 7.5 percent to 41.2 billion kroner ($7.6 billion) in 2013, missing the 43.1 billion-kroner average of analyst estimates.
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