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European stocks plunged the most in more than a month, retreating after reaching a six-year high last week, as investor concern increased that the escalating tension in Ukraine will hurt corporate earnings.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 2.3 percent to 330.36 at the close of trading, its biggest decline since Jan. 24. Of the equity benchmark’s 600 members, 575 retreated, while 19 rose. The measure advanced 4.8 percent in February as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen pledged to follow her predecessor’s policy on economic stimulus.
The standoff over Ukraine intensified over the weekend as Russian President Vladimir Putin got parliamentary approval to send troops into the country. The former Soviet state put its military on combat readiness as Russian-speaking forces arrived outside the Ukrainian infantry base at Privolnoye on the Crimean peninsula.
China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for February fell to 50.2 from 50.5 in January, according to official data released on March 1. A number above 50 indicates expansion. A private PMI by HSBC Holdings Plc. and Markit Economics signaled contraction, slipping to 48.5 from 49.5.
An index of euro-area manufacturing output based on a survey of purchasing managers rose to 53.2 in February, compared with the preliminary estimate of 53, according to a final reading from Markit.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 17 of the 18 western-European markets today. The stock market in Athens was closed for a holiday. France’s CAC 40 lost 2.7 percent. Germany’s DAX slipped 3.4 percent, for its biggest drop since November 2011. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 1.5 percent.
Carlsberg, which owns Russia’s Baltika Breweries, slid 5.3 percent to 540.50 euros.
Nokian Renkaat Oyj lost 6.6 percent to 30.35 euros. The Nordic region’s largest tiremaker got about 35 percent of its revenue from the Russian region in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Metro AG retreated 5.4 percent to 28.41 euros. Germany’s biggest retailer said on Jan. 20 that it plans to proceed with an initial public offering of its Russian cash and carry business to raise money for expansion.
Bouygues declined 1.8 percent to 28.70 euros. Chief Executive Officer Martin Bouygues met with French President Francois Hollande on Feb. 27 to seek government support for the purchase of SFR, Le Journal du Dimanche reported, citing people close to the CEO.
Kuehne & Nagel International AG lost 3.1 percent to 121.70 francs. The world’s biggest sea-freight forwarder reported 2013 earnings before interest and taxes rose 20 percent last year to 761 million francs ($865 million). Analysts had forecast 763.8 million francs.
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