04/07/2012 12:00 - Banks push European stocks lower
On Wednesday European stocks declined, dragging the Stoxx Europe 600 Index from a two-month high, as service-industry measures in the U.K. and Germany missed forecasts. U.S. index futures fell, while Asian shares advanced.
HSBC Holdings Plc dropped 1.2 percent as Bank of America Corp. said Europe’s largest bank will struggle to meet analysts’ estimates. Iberdrola SA tumbled 5.9 percent as utilities dropped. Chr. Hansen A/S, the maker of natural food colors and cheese cultures, climbed 11 percent after reporting earnings that exceeded estimates.
The Stoxx 600 slipped 0.3 percent at in London, after rallying 5.2 percent over the previous three days. The index is still on course for a fifth straight week of gains, the longest stretch since January, as European leaders agreed to address flaws in their bailout programs to ease the sovereign-debt crisis and speculation grew that central banks will take steps to boost the economy.
“Seeing equities fall back after a 7 percent rise as a result of the summit meeting last week suggests that common sense is returning to the market,” said Henrik Drusebjerg, a strategist at Nordea Bank AB in Copenhagen. “If investors are hoping that tomorrow’s central bank meetings will see initiatives on top of lowering interest rates, they will be disappointed.”
Euro-area retail sales unexpectedly increased in May as gains from France to Ireland and Portugal helped offset decreasing demand in Germany. Sales advanced 0.6 from April, when they slipped 1.4 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today.
Asian stocks rose for a sixth day, with the regional benchmark index recording its longest winning streak this year, as U.S. factory orders topped estimates and commodities climbed to a two-month high amid speculation central banks will act to boost economic growth.
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