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The Deal: European Stocks Slip Ahead of ECB Rates Meeting

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks drifted lower as the eurozone's central bank prepared to meet to set rates, while in Asia Hong Kong and Tokyo posted gains.

The European Central Bank will announce its rate decision at 7.45 a.m. EDT. Despite slower-than-expected eurozone consumer price growth and a call from International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lafarge for "brave action" to combat global economic weakness, consensus expectations point to an unchanged benchmark 0.25% rate.

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.13% at 6,650.71 and in Frankfurt the DAX slipped 0.06% to 9,617.65. In Paris, the CAC 40 ceded 0.07% to 4,427.61.

In London, venture capital-backed Just Eat Group Holdings became the latest Internet-related company to command a heady valuation after it priced shares in its IPO at the top of the range to achieve a market valuation of almost 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion). The valuation was more than 100 times the online restaurant food-ordering service's 2013 Ebitda but the shares still rose as much as 10% on its debut.

Tullow Oil was up more than 5% after UBS upgraded its recommendation to buy from neutral and cut its price target. The oil explorer Wednesday announced a $500 million senior notes issue to repay some of its existing debt.

In Hong Kong, luxury goods maker Prada ended the day down 5% after 2014 guidance of high single-digit revenue growth and stable Ebit margins disappointed investors already worrying about a slowdown in China.

In China, the government said it will sell 150 billion renminbi ($24 billion) of bonds to fund railways and offer tax breaks small companies, though mainland indices fell as banking stocks declined.

The Hang Seng edged up 0.18% to close at 22,565.08.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.84% to 15,071.88 as a weakening yen boosted exporters.

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