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Italian Stocks Decline; Astaldi, Benetton, Intesa, Telecom Italia Active

Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index ended a three-day gain, falling 209.73, or 0.9 percent, to 22,443.86 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Milan.

The following stocks were among the most active in the Italian market today.

Astaldi SpA (AST IM) advanced for a second day this week, gaining 1.9 percent to 4.86 euros. A group of companies led by Astaldi signed a contract for the extension of the planned line 5 of Milan’s subway, according to a statement.

Astaldi said its share of the contract is about 440 million euros ($607 million), while the share of Finmeccanica SpA’s Ansaldo STS SpA (STS IM) and Ansaldo Breda units will be 156 million euros. Ansaldo added 0.3 percent to 10.90 euros.

Benetton Group SpA (BEN IM) retreated for a fifth day, falling 2.2 percent to 4.65 euros. Italy’s largest clothing maker was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” at Exane BNP Paribas, which said in a note that better-than- expected revenue has been “overshadowed by profitability decline in 2010.”

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP IM), Italy’s second-biggest bank, dropped 2.9 percent to 2.48 euros, a first drop this week. UniCredit SpA (UCG IM), the country’s biggest, slid 2.1 percent to 1.85 euros. France called for the use of bond buybacks to stem the European debt crisis, splitting with Germany on the eve of a summit meant to project a unified stance on quelling market turmoil.

IT Way SpA (ITW IM) plummeted 14 percent to 2.58 euros, erasing yesterday’s gain. The company approved a share sale for as much as 16.7 million euros.

Saras SpA (SRS IM) increased 4 percent to 1.88 euros as Intermonte Sim SpA said in a note it switched its preference among Italian refiners to Saras from ERG SpA (ERG IM). ERG added 0.3 percent to 10.19 euros.

Telecom Italia SpA (TIT IM) fell for the first day in three, losing 1.6 percent to 1.06 euros. Exane BNP Paribas, which has a “neutral” rating on Italy’s biggest phone company, suggested investors to “take profit ahead of numbers.” The company is due to publish results on Feb. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francesca Cinelli in Milan at fcinelli@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net.

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