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European stocks declined, after yesterday’s advance, as investors weighed violence in eastern Ukraine and worse-than-forecast German confidence data. U.S. index futures and Asian shares were little changed.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.5 percent to 328.26 at 10:54 a.m. in London. The gauge rebounded yesterday amid better-than-estimated U.S. retail sales data and earnings from Citigroup Inc., after last week erasing most of the year’s gains as investors sold technology shares on valuation concerns.
“You have this huge uncertainty from the geopolitical front, which is pulling the market in a negative direction,” Witold Bahrke, who helps oversee $55 billion as a senior strategist at PFA Asset Management in Copenhagen, said in a phone interview. “There is a lack of conviction among investors. Sentiment is still tilted to the negative direction after the escalation in Ukraine at the weekend.”
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Ukrainian crisis by telephone yesterday without any substantial breakthrough, according to statements from their offices, as fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces highlighted instability in east Ukraine.
In Germany, a gauge of investor confidence fell for a fourth month in April. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, slid to 43.2 from 46.6 in March. Economists had forecast a decline to 45.
SABMiller lost 2.1 percent to 3,058 pence. The world’s second-biggest brewer said its 39.6 percent holding in hotel and casino operator Tsogo Sun is not a core part of its operations.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA slid 8.9 percent to 23 euro cents, for its biggest decline since November. Italy’s third-largest bank said it may increase the size of a planned share sale to reimburse part of a 4.1 billion-euro ($5.7 billion) government bailout.
Siemens AG dropped 1.2 percent to 95.18 euros. The Handelsblatt newspaper cited the chief executive officer of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin, as saying that German, French and Italian businesses, including Europe’s largest engineering company, will be hurt by sanctions against Russia.
L’Oreal (OR) advanced 1.8 percent to 122.90 euros. The world’s largest cosmetics maker said first-quarter revenue gained 2.8 percent in western Europe, excluding currency shifts and acquisitions, while southern European sales grew for the first time in six years.
Roche rose 0.7 percent to 256 Swiss francs. The biggest manufacturer of cancer drugs posted a 17-percent increase in sales of breast-cancer medicines in the first quarter, beating analysts’ forecasts. Total sales fell 0.8 percent to 11.5 billion francs ($13.1 billion), in line with the average of estimates.
Osram Licht AG rose 2.1 percent to 42.67 euros. Citigroup Inc. recommended investors buy shares in the lighting manufacturer that spun off from Siemens. Osram will benefit from expected growth in the global LED lighting market of 20 percent per year through 2020, according to the broker.
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