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French Stocks Decline, Led by Renault, LVMH on Japan Earthquake

French stocks dropped as concern grew that one or more of the nuclear reactors damaged by Japan’s worst earthquake on record will suffer a meltdown.

Renault SA, which has a stake in Japan’s Nissan Motor Co., fell 1.6 percent. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA declined 2.2 percent, leading declines in luxury-goods companies.

France’s CAC 40 Index tumbled 97.19, or 2.5 percent, to 3,780.85 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Paris, the biggest decline since November. The index has dropped 9.1 percent from its 2011 high, reached on Feb. 18. The SBF 120 Index retreated 2.4 percent today.

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the danger of further leaks from a nuclear power plant damaged by the earthquake was increasing. The Bank of Japan added 8 trillion yen ($98 billion) into money markets today, adding to yesterday’s record cash injection, to secure the nation’s financial stability following the March 11 temblor -- updated to a magnitude of 9, from 8.9, by the U.S. Geological Survey -- and subsequent tsunami. A third explosion and fire struck Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima plant today.

Renault slipped 1.6 percent to 37.55 euros. France’s second-biggest carmaker has a 43 percent stake in Nissan.

LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods company, lost 2.2 percent to 104.25 euros. PPR SA, the French owner of Gucci and online retailer Redcats, slumped 5.3 percent to 100.20 euros. Japan is the world’s second-largest market for luxury goods after the U.S., accounting for 11 percent of global sales, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

Areva, EDF Fall

Areva SA, the world’s largest maker of nuclear reactors, tumbled 8.6 percent to 28.81 euros.

Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, retreated 1.4 percent to 28.56 euros. The stock was cut to “sell” from “buy” at Aurel BGC, which predicted that regulators will rewrite the rules governing nuclear power stations in the aftermath of the escape of radioactive steam from Japan’s earthquake-hit atomic power facility.

STMicroelectronics NV, Europe’s biggest chipmaker, plunged 4.6 percent to 8.68 euros. Texas Instruments Inc., the second-largest U.S. chipmaker, said “substantial” damage to one of its plants in Japan from the March 11 earthquake will hurt sales in the first and second quarters.

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