European Stocks Post Longest Losing Streak in Five Months

European stocks slid, posting their longest losing streak in five months, as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said that financial-market developments and low domestic demand may hurt the euro area’s economy.

FLSmidth & Co. A/S retreated 1.9 percent as the Danish mining-equipment maker cut its earnings margin forecast. Vienna Insurance Group AG declined 5.2 percent as an unidentified investor sold 2.29 million shares in the company. AZ Electronic Materials SA surged the most since its initial public offering in October 2010 after Merck KGaA agreed to buy the company for about 1.6 billion pounds ($2.6 billion). Merck rose 4.9 percent.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.9 percent to 314.41 at the close of trading in London. The equity benchmark has gained 12 percent this year as central banks around the world pledged to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period of time.

“Investors aren’t going to take much risk before having more clarity on central-bank policies, as well as more U.S. economic data for further clues on when to expect the start of tapering,” said John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva. “There’s a bit of nervousness on the market with a bit more volatility as we head towards the end of the year as investors think ahead to what may await them.”

The Stoxx 600 slipped 0.6 percent yesterday as better-than-expected U.S. jobs data fueled concern that the Federal Reserve will reduce its monthly bond purchases sooner than forecast.

ECB Rate

Draghi said that increased commodity prices, weaker domestic demand and slow export growth all posed downside risks to the outlook for the euro area’s economy. He also identified failure to implement structural reforms by the governments of the 18 countries that use the single currency as a risk.

“Developments in global money- and financial-market conditions and related uncertainties may have the potential to negatively affect economic conditions,” Draghi said.

ECB officials kept the main refinancing rate unchanged at 0.25 percent as predicted by every economist in a Bloomberg News survey. The central bank for the euro area lowered interest rates to 0.25 percent from 0.5 percent last month.

In the U.K., the Bank of England left its key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent, in line with its own guidance on rates. The Office for Budget Responsibility raised its growth forecast for 2013 to 1.4 percent from the 0.6 percent that it predicted in March. The agency charged with making independent projections on the British economy also said that gross domestic product will climb 2.4 percent in 2014. It had projected growth next year of 1.8 percent.

Jobs Report

Tomorrow’s U.S. payrolls report may help investors gauge the outlook for stimulus in the world’s largest economy. The Federal Open Market Committee meets on Dec. 17-18 to consider changes to its $85 billion of monthly bond buying. Officials said at their Oct. 29-30 meeting that they may slow their asset purchases if the economy improves as forecast.

Gains in manufacturing, technology and housing fueled “modest to moderate” economic growth from early October through mid-November, the Fed said in its Beige Book survey released after the close of European markets yesterday.

FLSmidth declined 1.9 percent to 268 kroner. The company lowered its forecast earnings before interest, taxes and amortization margin to 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent. It had predicted a margin of 4 percent to 5 percent.

Vienna Insurance dropped 5.2 percent to 34.60 euros. An unidentified investor offered 83 million euros of shares in the company, according to terms obtained by Bloomberg. They were sold at 34.10 euros apiece, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.

Metro Slides

Metro AG retreated 4.8 percent to 34.29 euros, its biggest slide since June. Morgan Stanley lowered Germany’s biggest retailer to equal weight, the equivalent of hold, from overweight. The brokerage cited the lack of near-term catalysts to support further gains in the share price. Metro has rallied 63 percent so far this year.

AZ Electronic Materials rallied 50 percent to 395 pence. Merck agreed to pay 403.5 pence a share for the Luxembourg-based company, it said in a statement. The acquisition will enable the German drugmaker’s chemicals division to expand into new markets. Merck rallied 4.9 percent to 130.50 euros.

Remy Cointreau SA advanced 2.7 percent to 61.99 euros after the maker of Remy Martin cognac said its board has authorized a buyback of as many as 2.5 million shares. The drinks company will cancel the shares that it purchases.

CTT-Correios de Portugal SA gained 0.4 percent to 5.54 euros. The company started trading in Lisbon today as the 493-year-old postal service completed Portugal’s first initial public offering in five years.

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