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European stocks declined as a report showed Chinese imports unexpectedly slumped last month, outweighing gains by personal- and household-goods companies after LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA posted results.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.6 percent to 333.23 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The benchmark earlier rose as much as 0.6 percent after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting eased concern about when interest rates will increase. European equities have fallen 1.8 percent from a six-year high on April 4 as investors sold the shares with the highest valuations.
National benchmark indexes declined in 15 of the 18 western-European markets today.
FTSE 100 6,633.47 -2.14 -0.03% CAC 40 4,410.77 -31.91 -0.72% DAX 9,448.76 -57.59 -0.61%
In China, the customs administration reported that imports slid 11 percent in March from a year earlier. The median economist estimate had called for a gain of 3.9 percent.
In the U.S., the Federal Open Market Committee said that the revised forecasts for interest rates at its March 18-19 policy meeting did not mean the central bank’s policy would change, according to minutes released after European markets closed yesterday. “Several participants noted that the increase in the median projection overstated the shift in the projections,” the Fed said in the minutes.
Janet Yellen said in the press conference following the meeting that rates might start to rise about six months after the central bank halts its monthly asset purchases.
A Labor Department report showed that the number of people filing jobless claims in the world’s biggest economy fell to 300,000 in the week ended April 5. Economists had forecast a decline to 320,000.
Tryg lost 4 percent to 510.50 Danish kroner. The second-largest Nordic property and casualty insurer reported first-quarter net income of 455 million kroner ($84.7 million), missing the 516 million-krone average estimate of analysts. The company paid out 150 million kroner in large claims, more than it did in the same period a year earlier.
Iberdrola SA decreased 3.4 percent to 4.83 euros, leading a decline in utility companies. Bankia SA sold a 4.9 percent stake in Spain’s largest utility.
Royal Imtech NV tumbled 15 percent to 1.66 euros, its lowest price in 11 years. The technical-services provider said it would review all options to meet a debt-reduction target.
Vienna Insurance Group AG slid 5.8 percent to 35.42 euros as it restated its 2012 earnings following an audit of its BCR Life unit in Romania. Pretax profit fell 4.2 percent to 563.7 million euros, the insurer said in a statement.
LVMH gained 3.2 percent to 140.85 euros after reporting that first-quarter fashion and leather-goods sales climbed 9 percent on an organic basis, the fastest growth since the first quarter of 2012. Analysts had predicted growth of 6 percent.
Hays Plc gained 4.6 percent to 151.4 pence. The recruitment company reported that net fee growth increased in Asia, Europe and the U.K. in the three months through March.
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