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Japanese stocks pared declines on optimism progress was being made to contain a crisis at a crippled nuclear-power station where potentially lethal levels of radiation were detected yesterday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, tumbled 19 percent. Kandenko Co., the engineering company affiliated with the utility, dropped 4.8 percent. Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Tokyo Electric’s No. 2 shareholder, sank 4 percent. Shares also retreated after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecast for Japan’s economic growth almost in half.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.2 percent to 9,459.08 as of the close of trading in Tokyo, recovering from a 1.7 percent slump after Tokyo Electric said radioactive water at the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant hasn’t leaked into the sea and that the utility will begin using fresh water to cool the spent- fuel pool of the No. 2 reactor today.
The Nikkei’s 7 percent drop since the quake made it the worst performer among indexes for the world’s largest markets, after the temblor and tsunami killed more than 10,000 people, razed homes and factories and crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant northeast of Tokyo.
European stocks rose for a fifth day, erasing losses for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index in the final hour of trade, as a rally in mining shares offset concern that banks will need to sell more shares to increase their capital.
BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vedanta Resources Plc climbed more than 2 percent as metal prices advanced in London. Unione di Banche Italiane ScpA (UBI) tumbled by a record 12 percent after Italy’s fourth-biggest bank said it plans to offer new shares. Banco Popolare Scrl sank 6.3 percent as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slashed its share price estimate 5.2 percent.
Stocks in Europe limited gains today after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Portugal and Greece’s debt ratings. The ratings firm said that the European Union’s new bailout rules may mean both nations will eventually renege on their debt obligations.
S&P cut Portugal for the second time in a week to the lowest investment-grade rating of BBB-, while Greece’s rating fell two grades to BB-, three levels below investment grade.
U.S. stocks advanced, erasing yesterday’s loss, as Home Depot Inc. (HD) drove consumer companies higher and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded off a level watched by investors who use charts to make forecasts.
Home Depot rose 2.2 percent as the largest U.S. home- improvement retailer sold $2 billion in bonds to help finance buybacks. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) climbed 2.6 percent after introducing a music-streaming service before Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG) AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) gained 5.3 percent as SAC Capital Advisors LP reported a stake. Apollo Group Inc. (APOL), the biggest U.S. for- profit college, fell 7.2 percent following lower enrollment.
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