Sun, Dec 08, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Fed fears push EU markets to biggest decline since June


European stocks posted their biggest weekly decline since June as better-than-estimated US economic reports spurred speculation that the US Federal Reserve will begin cutting stimulus measures sooner than forecast.

ThyssenKrupp AG slumped 9.3 percent after Germany’s largest steelmaker raised 882.3 million euros (US$1.21 billion) through a share sale, while Standard Chartered PLC lost 8.1 percent.

On the winning side this week were Sage Group PLC, the UK’s biggest software maker, which rose 6.8 percent after reporting revenue growth that exceeded analysts’ estimates, as well as AZ Electronic Materials SA, which surged 43 percent after Merck KGaA agreed to buy it for about £1.6 billion (US$2.6 billion).

The STOXX Europe 600 Index fell 2.7 percent to 316.5 this week. The regional benchmark gauge has still surged 13 percent this year as EU central banks pledged to continue their support for economic growth.

The Euro STOXX 50 Index, a measure for the eurozone, lost 3.5 percent this week.

“Strong employment data means tapering comes sooner, but you also don’t want weak numbers,” Andreas Nigg, head of equity and commodity strategy at Vontobel Asset Management in Zurich, Switzerland, said in a telephone interview.

National benchmark indices retreated in all 18 western European markets this week, except Iceland. Germany’s DAX lost 2.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 3.9 percent and the UK’s FTSE 100 slipped 1.5 percent for its fifth consecutive weekly retreat.

European markets pared weekly losses after data from the US Department of Labor on Friday showed payrolls increased by 203,000 last month, following a revised 200,000 advance in October.

The median forecast of 89 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 185,000 advance last month. The report also showed that the US jobless rate dropped to a five-year low of 7 percent.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that increased commodity prices, weaker domestic demand and slow export growth all posed downside risks to the outlook for the eurozone’s economy.

ECB officials kept the main refinancing rate unchanged at 0.25 percent, as predicted by every economist in a Bloomberg News survey.

In the UK, the Bank of England left its key interest rate at a record-low 0.5 percent, in line with its guidance on rates.

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