European stocks fell the most in more than three weeks as China’s finance minister damped speculation his government will boost economic stimulus.
Commodities producers dropped the most among 19 industry groups. Tesco Plc slumped to its lowest price since 2003 as it started an investigation into its accounting practices after overstating its guidance for first-half earnings by about 250 million pounds ($408 million).
Cermaq ASA jumped the most since May 2013 after Mitsubishi Corp. offered to buy it. Merck KGaA rose 4.4 percent after agreeing to purchase Sigma-Aldrich Corp.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.5 percent to 346.69 at the close of trading in London after earlier paring losses to 0.2 percent. The benchmark gauge advanced 1.2 percent last week as Scotland voted to remain in the U.K. and the Federal Reserve indicated U.S. interest rates won’t rise any time soon.
“It looks like the Chinese government recognizes that the economic boom is over and the country is settling down to a lower level of growth,” said Andrea Williams, who helps oversee 50 billion pounds as head of European equities at Royal London Asset Management Ltd. in London. “The Tesco announcement is quite a staggering amount. It will probably take them a long time to turn their operations around.”
The Stoxx 600 rallied as much as 0.9 percent on Sept. 19 and closed 0.3 percent away from a six-year high reached in June. It’s on track for a fifth consecutive quarterly gain, the longest streak since 2006, as the European Central Bank increased stimulus measures.
The equity index extended losses after a report in the U.S. showed existing home sales unexpectedly declined in August for the first time in five months.
Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei reiterated that his government won’t make any major policy adjustments in response to changes in individual economic indicators, even as he said growth faces downward pressure. His comments quelled speculation that weaker economic data will spur further stimulus in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Basic-resources companies in the Stoxx 600 fell 3 percent as a group, the most since March, to a three-month low. Anglo American Plc lost 3.1 percent to 1,426.5 pence, and Glencore Plc dropped 4.9 percent to 341.9 pence. Rio Tinto Group slid 3.8 percent to 3,058.5 pence.
Carmakers also declined. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, which got a fifth of its 2013 revenue from China, dropped 2.5 percent to 86.77 euros. Continental AG, an auto-parts manufacturer that earned 19 percent of last year’s sales from Asia, fell 3.3 percent to 159.70 euros.
National benchmark indexes slipped in 16 of the 18 western- European markets today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index lost 0.9 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index fell 0.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 Index dropped 0.4 percent. Italy’s FTSE MIB Index declined 1.4 percent, the most among the 18 markets.
Tesco sank 12 percent, the most since January 2012, to 203 pence. The U.K.’s biggest grocer said that some income was booked before being earned and costs were recognized later than incurred. The company had forecast operating profit for the first half of the year would be 1.1 billion pounds.
Sulzer AG slid 4.1 percent to 124.80 Swiss francs after terminating takeover talks with Dresser-Rand Group Inc. as the U.S. company accepted a competing bid by Siemens AG. Europe’s largest engineering company will pay $7.6 billion for the maker of compressors and turbines for the oil-and-gas industry.
Cermaq surged 14 percent to 95.75 kroner after Mitsubishi offered to buy the Norwegian fishing company for 8.88 billion kroner ($1.4 billion). The offer price is 14 percent higher than Cermaq’s last closing price, according to a statement.
Merck KGaA rose 4.4 percent to 72.63 euros. The German drug and chemicals company agreed to acquire Sigma-Aldrich for $17 billion, paying $140 a share in cash. That’s 37 percent more than the U.S. company’s closing price on Sept. 19.
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