European Stocks Fall as Spain Contracts; AB InBev Sinks

European Stocks Slide as Spain Enters Recession
A Spanish national flag flies above the headquarters of the Madrid Stock Exchange in Madrid. Photographer: Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg

European stocks fell for the first time in five days, extending the biggest monthly drop since September, as Spain entered a recession and U.S. business activity expanded at the slowest pace since November 2009.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV paced declining shares after the world’s largest brewer reported revenue that fell short of analyst estimates. Vestas Wind Systems A/S slid 3.4 percent as Credit Suisse Group AG recommended investors sell the shares. Adidas AG surged to a record after the sporting-goods maker raised its 2012 earnings forecast.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.7 percent to 257.28 at the close of trading. The benchmark gauge has retreated 2.3 percent in April, a second straight month of losses, amid worse-than-forecast economic data and political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands. The measure has still advanced 5.2 percent in 2012.

“There is a two-way pull in the market at the moment,” said Kevin Lilley, a European fund manager at Old Mutual Asset Managers U.K. in London, which has 4 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) in assets under management. “On the one hand, company results coming through are generally better than expected on both sides of the Atlantic, and on the other hand, economic data has been mixed.”

Spain’s economy officially entered its second recession since 2009 as gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent in the first quarter, less than previous forecast. That compared with the Bank of Spain’s estimate on April 23 of a 0.4 percent decline. From a year ago, GDP fell 0.4 percent, INE said.

Business Sentiment

In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said its business barometer dropped to 56.2 in April from 62.2 a month earlier, lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

Economists projected the gauge would fall to 60, according to the median of 55 estimates in the survey. Readings greater than 50 signal growth.

Another U.S. report showed consumer spending climbed in March and incomes picked up, indicating the biggest part of the world’s largest economy will help sustain the expansion.

National benchmark indexes fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets today. France’s CAC 40 lost 1.6 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 0.7 percent and Germany’s DAX retreated 0.6 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the Stoxx 600 was 27 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Most western European markets, including Germany, France and Spain, are closed for the May Day holiday tomorrow.

AB InBev Drops

AB InBev lost 1.2 percent to 54.45 euros. The world’s biggest brewer reported a 6.2 percent gain in first-quarter revenue, excluding acquisitions, disposals and currency fluctuations. The median estimate of eight analysts was for a 6.6 percent increase.

Vestas dropped 3.4 percent to 49.61 kroner in Copenhagen as Credit Suisse reiterated its underperform recommendation, the equivalent of a sell rating, citing slower growth in services and spare parts, increased losses on new products and “limited balance sheet flexibility.”

“We would short sell Vestas on a three-month view,” analysts wrote in a report to clients dated today. “We think there’s further negatives that the market doesn’t fully fathom.” The bank also cut its share-price estimate for the world’s largest wind-turbine maker by 20 percent to 40 kroner.

Aquarius Platinum

Aquarius Platinum Ltd. sank 10 percent to 130 pence, the biggest decline since September, as the fourth-largest platinum producer reported a 7 percent drop in attributable output for the third quarter. The company also suspended the Siphumelele shaft and the M5 project at its Marikana operations in South Africa because of low local-currency prices for its metals.

Adidas limited losses in the Stoxx 600, climbing 5.3 percent to 63 euros, the highest since its 1995 initial public offering. The company forecast a 12 percent to 17 percent increase in full-year profit, higher than a previous prediction of 10 percent to 15 percent growth.

The world’s second-largest sporting-goods maker also reported a 38 percent jump in net income to 289 million euros ($383 million) in the first three months of the year fueled by golf sales and growth in China. That beat the 230.6 million-euro average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Actelion, Telenor

Actelion Ltd. soared 14 percent to 38.40 Swiss francs as its experimental lung drug macitentan met the main goal of a late-stage clinical trial, providing the company with a possible successor to a treatment that accounts for 89 percent of sales.

Telenor ASA rallied 5.2 percent to 105.20 kroner as the company said it may have to exit India, the world’s second-largest mobile market, after the country’s telecommunications regulator proposed an 11-fold increase in license fees.

Aberdeen Asset Management Plc climbed 3.5 percent to 283.5 pence after the company reported a 14 percent increase in adjusted earnings before amortization for the six months ended March 31 to 162.2 million pounds. That topped the average analyst estimate of 151.7 million pounds in a Bloomberg survey.

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