- Special Pages
LONDON: European stocks fell yesterday following news that the eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of last year, but some major companies were boosted by upbeat results.
London’s FTSE 100 index of leading companies fell 0.50 percent to 6,327.36 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 1.05 percent to 7,631.19 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 lost 0.78 percent to 3,669.60 points.
Madrid’s IBEX 35 index gave up 0.71 percent to 8,247.4 points, hit hard by tumbling bank shares, and Milan’s FTSE MIB dropped 1.0 percent to 16,545 points.
The European single currency touched a three-week low at $1.3315, before recovering some ground to $1.3329, still down from $1.3452 late on Wednesday. Gold edged up to $1,646 an ounce from $1,645 on the London Bullion Market.
The recession in the 17-nation eurozone deepened sharply in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the debt crisis continued to sap growth and confidence, official data showed. The eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the three months to December, which compared with a contraction of 0.1 percent in the previous quarter.
In the second quarter of 2012, it contracted 0.2 percent, meaning that the recession has now lasted three quarters. The eurozone had meanwhile registered zero growth in the first quarter of last year.
For the wider 27-member European Union, output fell 0.5 percent compared with activity in the third quarter of 2012 when the bloc had eked out growth of just 0.1 percent.
Compared with activity in the fourth quarter of 2011, the EU economy shrank by 0.6 percent. Eurostat said that for 2012 as a whole, the eurozone economy contracted by 0.5 percent and the EU by 0.3 percent.
Analysts said the figures painted a bleak picture, noting that the German economy shrank by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the third when it managed growth of 0.2 percent.
In Paris, BNP Paribas shares rose 2.0 percent to ¤46.75 after the French bank said net profits rose 8.3 percent last year to ¤6.55bn. The price of shares in Renault jumped 7.6 percent to ¤46.50, even though the group posted a 15.3-percent drop in 2012 net profit to ¤1.77bn.
Asian markets rose, with dealers looking ahead to an upcoming G20 meeting. US stocks drifted down. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.13 percent to 13,965.13 points in midday trading. The broad-based S&P 500 slid 0.06 percent to 1,519.46 points, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.10 percent to 3,193.68 points. AFP