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European Stocks Fall After World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stocks fell on Wednesday amid a raft of earnings downgrades, and after the World Bank cuts its global growth forecast. Asian stocks were mixed.

In London, the FTSE 100 shed 0.48% to 6,840.68, while in Frankfurt the DAX fell 0.77% to 9,951.44. In Paris, the benchmark CAC 40 was down 0.77% at 77.36.

German shares were dragged down by a fall in Deutsche Lufthansa, which shed 14.87% in Frankfurt to 17.025 euros.

Investors sold shares after the German flag carrier cut its 2014 operating forecast to about 1 billion euros, from a previous projection of 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion euros. The airline blamed a weaker than expected revenue development in passenger and freight activities as well as negative impacts from strikes and the devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar.

Lufthansa also lowered its 2015 operating result target to about 2 billion euros, down from a previous forecast of 2.65 billion euros.

In Paris, shares in Vallourec shed 11.4% to 34.95 euros. The Boulogne-Billancourt-based company, which makes steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, said it expects 2014 EBITDA to be 10% lower than in 2013, due to a "significant" drop in demand for its oil and gas operations in Brazil and the Europe, Asia, Middle-East Africa region.

Shares in French aircraft manfucturer Airbus Group also fell, after it announced that Dubai's Emirates airline canceled its entire order of wide-body aircraft, specifically 50 A350-900 planes and 20 of the larger A350-1000 model.

Emirates had booked the order back in 2007, with the first planes scheduled for delivery in 2019. Airbus nevertheless said it expects the A350 order book to keep growing in 2014.

Emirates' order cancellation also weighed on Rolls-Royce, which fell 2.4% in London, after saying the move reduces its order book by about 3.5%, or 2.6 billion pounds ($4.4 billion). Rolls-Royce said it retains a close working relationship with Emirates and continues to support its 38 Rolls-Royce-powered wide body aircraft currently in service.

In Amsterdam, Nutreco declined 3.35% after the Dutch animal nutrition and fish-feed manufacturer said it's no longer considering divesting its Spanish and Portuguese compound-feed and meat businesses.

Nutreco revealed that it had discussions with several interested parties since putting the business on the block in February, but said it was not possible to get agreement on a fair evaluation. The Iberian activities will remain part of Nutreco as a new and separate business unit, which the owner says are well-managed and generate cash.

Bucking the bad-news trend among European corporates, shares in Spanish fashion retailer Inditex rose 1.4% in Madrid after the owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti posted a better-than-expected first-quarter net profit of 406 million euros.  Although that's a decrease from 438 million euros a year earlier, the 2014 figure exceeded expectations of around 391.2 million euros, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The world's largest clothing retailer has big plans for its online business, with plans to launch its e-commerce platform in South Korea and Mexico this September, as well as to widen its offer in China through the launch of an online store for the 2014 autumn/winter season.

Inditex also announced plans for a five-for-one stock split, subject to shareholder approval at the July 14 annual general meeting.

A report from the World Bank also weighed on European markets, overshadowing a fall in U.K. unemployment to its lowest level in more than five years (6.6% for February-April 2014).

The World Bank is predicting 2.8% growth for the world economy this year, down from an earlier 3.2% prediction. It also cut its U.S. growth forecast to 2.1% from 2.8%, but said the euro-area is on target to grow by 1.1% this year.

The report said that bad weather in the U.S. at the start of the year, the crisis in Ukraine, Beijing's rebalancing of the Chinese economy and political strife in several middle-income economies are all contributing to a third straight year of sub-5% growth for developing countries as a whole.

As of next year, the world economy is expected to pick up speed, strengthening to 3.4% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2016, with high-income economies accounting for half of global growth in those years (compared with less than 40% in 2013), according to the World Bank.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng fell 0.25% to 23,257.29, while in Tokyo the Nikkei added 0.50% to 15,069.

 

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