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European stocks fell, extending a one-month low, with a slump in Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW) leading retailers lower, while concern grew over the situation in Ukraine.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 1 percent to 324.82 at 4:30 p.m. in London after earlier gaining as much as 0.2 percent. The gauge declined 1.1 percent yesterday amid stake sales in companies, while Russia and Ukraine continued a standoff over Crimea. The European index has fallen 4 percent from a six-year high reached Feb. 25.
The U.S. and Germany stepped up pressure on Russia to back down from plans to annex Crimea from Ukraine as western powers try to muster economic and diplomatic sanctions to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to defuse the situation. The region will hold a referendum in three days.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who met Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House yesterday, said “the international community -- the European Union and others -- will be forced to apply a cost to Russia’s violations of international law and its encroachments on Ukraine.”
A Commerce Department showed that sales at U.S. retailers climbed 0.3 percent in February, the first increase in three months, after a revised 0.6 percent drop in January. Economists survey had called for a gain of 0.2 percent.
Separate data showed that initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell to 315,000 in the week ended March 8, the lowest level since November, from 324,000 in the earlier period. That compares with the 330,000 economists had predicted.
National benchmark indexes retreated in all of the 18 western-European markets today.
FTSE 100 6,553.78 -67.12 -1.01% CAC 40 4,250.51 -55.75 -1.29% DAX 9,017.79 -170.90 -1.86%
Morrison slumped 12 percent to 205.6 pence. The smallest of the U.K.’s four main grocers forecast a third straight decline in pretax profit and said it will sell 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) in property over the next three years. Earnings may drop to as little as 325 million pounds this year, the company said as it posted a 13 percent drop in underlying pretax profit for the year ended Feb. 2.
Delhaize Group fell 8.3 percent, the most since May 2012, to 48.38 euros after predicting lower profitability in Belgium. The owner of the Food Lion supermarkets reported fourth-quarter adjusted EBIT (DELB) of 182 million euros ($253 million), trailing the 188 million-euro analyst projection.
Adecco lost 6.6 percent to 73.45 Swiss francs. Jacobs Holding AG sold 30.2 million shares for 71.50 francs each. Adecco jumped 4.5 percent yesterday after posting full-year profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates.
Lufthansa advanced 3.8 percent to 18.60 euros. Europe’s second-largest airline said it will pay a dividend of 45 euro cents a share. Operating profit in 2013 fell to 697 million euros, exceeding the 662 million-euro average analyst estimate.
Royal Boskalis Westminster NV rose 3 percent to 37.43 euros. The Dutch dredging company said revenue in 2013 rose to a record 3.54 billion euros from 3.08 billion euros a year earlier, beating analyst projections. Net income climbed to 366 million euros last year from 249 million euros. The company said it will buy back as many as 10 million shares through 2016.
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