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European Stocks Seen Lower Amid Anti-austerity Protests


European stocks are seen opening lower on Wednesday ahead of anti-austerity strikes planned across Europe today, protesting against spending cuts and tax increases. That said, losses if any could be limited as debt-laden Greece successfully raised 4.06 billion euros yesterday by selling short term bills, easing concerns about how it will repay its debt maturing on Friday.

"There were many distortions in the Greek finance and labor markets that had to be tackled, but Greece has taken all the necessary measures. Now it is up to the EU to come forward with the next aid tranche", Greek Finance Minister Giannis Stournaras and Labor Minister Giannis Vroutsis told the European Parliament's Economic Affairs and Employment Committees on Tuesday. Stournaras stressed that if Greece does not get the next installment, then it will face "insolvency and bankruptcy, with contamination effects.

Asian markets are turning in a mixed performance, paring early losses, after China's Communist Party re-elected the nation's future leaders Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang onto its Central Committee, bringing its pivotal conclave to a close. According to media reports, members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the top decision-making body, will be named tomorrow.

In economic releases, Eurozone industrial output data is due later in the day, with economists expecting output to fall 2 percent month-over-month in September, following a 0.6 percent rise in August. Investors also await the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report due to be presented by Governor Mervyn King.

Across the Atlantic, traders will likely keep a close eye on retail sales data and the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.

In domestic corporate news, Italian banking major UniCredit SpA said it swung to a profit in the third-quarter from a loss last year when results were impacted by hefty goodwill charges.

French media and telecom group Vivendi SA reported third-quarter earnings attributable to shareholders of 491 million euros versus 241 million euros in the same quarter last year. The company now expects its 2012 adjusted net income to be around 2.7 billion euros compared to the prior estimate of above 2.5 billion euros.

Utility group EDF reported that its sales for the nine-month period rose to 51.97 billion euros from 47.15 billion euros last year.

Shopping center investor Deutsche Euroshop AG reported consolidated profit of 49.9 million euros for the first nine months of the year, up from 40.0 million euros in the year-ago period.

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has announced a mapping application for the iPhone and other devises and unveiled a new cloud-based map service called 'HERE' in an attempt to boost its influence among users of Google Inc.'s Android operating system and Apple Inc.'s devices.

Italy's utility ENEL posted third-quarter net income attributable to shareholders of the parent company of 987 million euros, compared to 940 million euros in the prior year quarter.

Global miner BHP Billiton has agreed to sell its diamond business, including interests in the Ekati diamond mine in Canada, to Harry Winston Diamond Mines for $500 million.

Celesio AG has announced the sale of its Irish pharmaceutical wholesale subsidiary Cahill May Roberts, including Movianto Ireland, to Uniphar, an Irish pharmaceutical wholesale and logistics company, headquartered in Dublin.

European stocks ended mostly higher on Tuesday after Eurozone finance ministers granted Greece two extra years to meet its budget reduction targets, although they indicated that they will hold more negotiations before nailing down a new deal.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of Eurozone bluechip stocks rose 0.8 percent and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added half a percent, while around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100, Switzerland's SMI and France's CAC 40 ended up between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent. The German DAX ended flat with a positive bias, erasing losses in the final hour of trading amid speculation of an imminent Spanish bailout.

U.S. stocks ended modestly lower overnight, as a rally led by retailers following strong results from Home Depot was offset by concerns about the looming fiscal cliff. The Dow slid half a percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.4 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.7 percent, dragged down by Micorsoft shares after the software giant announced the immediate departure of Windows President Steven Sinofsky.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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