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European Stocks Retreat Before ECB Interest-Rate Decision

ECB

European stocks slid, with equities posting their longest losing streak in more than five months, before interest-rate decisions from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. U.S. futures and Asian shares fell.

FLSmidth & Co. A/S dropped 1.5 percent as the Danish mining-equipment maker lowered its forecast earnings margin. Vienna Insurance Group AG retreated 5.1 percent as an undisclosed seller offered 2.29 million shares in the company.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.4 percent to 316.08 at 8:06 a.m. in London. The equity benchmark has still gained 13 percent this year as central banks around the world pledged to keep interest rates low for a prolonged period of time. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures decreased 0.2 percent today as investors awaited tomorrow’s monthly U.S. employment report. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.3 percent.

“Marginal declines are expected once more in Europe as trepidation builds ahead of Friday’s payroll figures,” Jonathan Sudaria, a trader at Capital Spreads in London, wrote in an e-mail. “Yesterday’s batch of conflicting data provided a heady rollercoaster for traders to try and ride out, and another busy day on the release front is expected to test their stomach. The two central-bank meetings are expected to show no change on the monetary policy front.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index, the regional benchmark, 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 Projections

ECB President Mario Draghi releases inflation and growth projections today at the first meeting since the Governing Council cut interest rates to a record low.

Officials will keep the benchmark rate unchanged this time, according to every economist in a Bloomberg News survey. Policy makers will announce their decision at 1:45 p.m. in Frankfurt. Draghi will host a press conference, setting out the forecasts, 45 minutes later.

In the U.K., Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement today. The Office for Budget Responsibility will also raise its growth forecast for 2013 to 1.4 percent from the 0.6 percent that it predicted in March, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

The Bank of England will announce its interest-rate decision at 12 p.m. in London. The central bank will leave its benchmark rate at a record low and its bond-buying program unchanged, separate surveys show.

Tomorrow’s U.S. payrolls report may help investors gauge the outlook for stimulus. 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.

(Source: Bloomberg)