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German Stocks Drop as ECB Interest Rate at a Record Low

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- German stocks declined for a second day as the European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate at a record low.

Celesio AG slid 1.4 percent after the hedge fund that holds 25 percent of voting rights in the drug wholesaler agreed to an increased offer. Axel Springer SE rose to its highest price since November 1998 as Morgan Stanley upgraded the publisher.

The DAX Index dropped 0.8 percent to 9,421.61 at the close of trading in Frankfurt. The equity benchmark rallied 25 percent in 2013 as the ECB pledged to leave interest rates near their record low for a prolonged period, while better-than-forecast data signaled a recovery in the U.S. economy. The broader HDAX Index retreated 0.7 percent today.

“The sentiment is one of disappointment among short-term investors as there may have been hopes for some action from the ECB,” Ralf Zimmermann, an equity analyst at Bankhaus Lampe KG, said in a phone interview. “Investors may have been hoping for more immediate action by the ECB.”

The ECB left its main interest rate at 0.25 percent as predicted by all 51 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The officials kept the deposit rate at zero and the marginal lending rate at 0.75 percent. The Governing Council last cut the rate for countries using the single currency in November.

The central bank’s President Mario Draghi said officials have strengthened their pledge to keep interest rates low for as long as necessary to support the euro area’s economy. “We used firmer words for indicating the strength of our forward guidance,” Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt today. “It reiterates our decisiveness to act if needed.”

Fed Minutes

In the U.S., minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting showed officials saw declining economic gains from its monthly bond-buying program. The Fed decided at the meeting to start reducing its asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion from this month.

“Participants were most concerned about the marginal cost of additional asset purchases arising from risks to financial stability,” according to the minutes.

Celesio slid 1.4 percent to 24.15 euros. Elliott Management Corp. agreed to a new offer from McKesson Corp. of 23.50 euros a share for its holding in Celesio. The hedge fund had rejected a previous offer of 23 euros apiece.

Hugo Boss AG retreated 1.7 percent to 98.34 euros.

Axel Springer increased 3.1 percent to 48.73 euros. Morgan Stanley upgraded the publisher of Bild to equal weight from underweight, meaning that investors should no longer sell the shares. The brokerage said that media companies will return cash to shareholders as the advertising market recovers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Morgan in Frankfurt at jmorgan157@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net

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