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24.03.2014 11:30

European stocks retreated

European stocks retreated, after the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s biggest weekly advance in more than a month, as world leaders gather in The Hague to discuss tension over Ukraine and a manufacturing gauge for China and Germany slipped. U.S. index futures and Asian shares rose.

Leaders of the U.S., the European Union, China, Japan and others meet today as concern grows that Russia is massing soldiers on Ukraine’s border. U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph that Russia’s troop buildup means the crisis may worsen, calling the situation the most serious risk to European security in the 21st century.

In China, a preliminary report showed manufacturing weakened for a fifth straight month in March. The Purchasing Manager’s Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics dropped to 48.1, compared with the 48.7 median estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The number compares with February’s final 48.5 figure. Numbers above 50 signal expansion.

Separate preliminary data showed that a gauge of manufacturing in the euro area declined to 53.2 in March, in line with forecasts, from 53.3 the previous month. It fell to 53.8 from 54.8 in Germany. In the U.S., the manufacturing gauge probably slipped to 56.5 from 57.1, the estimates show.

KPN fell 2.4 percent to 2.60 euros. Citigroup lowered the Dutch telecommunications operator to neutral from buy, meaning it no longer recommends investors purchase the stock. The brokerage said the risk of a failure of the O2/E-Plus deal is rising, while adding that it will probably close.

Centrica slid 1.2 percent to 334 pence, and SSE Plc dropped 1.5 percent to 1,487 pence. The Sunday Times reported that the U.K.’s six biggest utilities may be broken up this week when energy regulator Ofgem calls in the competition watchdog. The newspaper cited a chief executive officer it didn’t name.

Nokia Oyj lost 1.2 percent to 5.21 euros. The company, which is working to complete the sale of its mobile-phone division to Microsoft Corp., said the 5.44 billion euro ($7.5 billion) transaction will be delayed until April as Asian regulators review it. The companies had previously predicted that the sale would be completed by the end of March.

CEZ rallied 3.3 percent to 559.40 koruna. The Czech government, which controls 70 percent of the company, will demand a dividend payout of 100 percent of CEZ’s 2013 net income, Hospodarske Noviny reported, citing Finance Minister Andrej Babis. That’s up from the previous policy of 50 percent to 60 percent net income payout.

FTSE 100 6,527.02 -30.15 -0.46%

CAC 40 4,303.19 -32.09 -0.74%

DAX 9,281.85 -61.09 -0.65%

24.03.2014 12:45

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