Stocks in Europe and Asia Decline

Stocks in Europe and Asia fell as results at companies from Swiss Reinsurance Co. to Unilever and Cisco Systems Inc. showed the recession is battering profits., Bloomberg 2/5/2009 5:35:23 AM

Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, tumbled 21 percent on plans to cut its dividend and raise capital from Warren Buffett after record losses. Unilever slumped 4.1 percent in Amsterdam as the second-biggest consumer products company scrapped its target for profitability. Cisco, the largest maker of networking equipment, retreated 3.6 percent in Germany after predicting that sales will slip as much as 20 percent.

The MSCI World Index decreased 0.6 percent to 843.27 at 12:49 p.m. in London. The gauge of 23 developed countries has fallen 8.4 percent this year as companies from Kraft Foods Inc. to Remy Cointreau SA cut their forecasts and the U.S. economy shrank at the fastest pace in 26 years.

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index fell 1 percent today as manufacturing orders in Germany dropped more than economists expected in December, extending the worst decline on record. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.5 percent as Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Qantas Airways Ltd. retreated.

Asian stocks fell for the first time in three days, led by health care and technology companies, as broker downgrades and share sales in Australia renewed concerns the global recession is deepening.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.6 percent to 82.72 as of 7:24 p.m. in Tokyo, with about two stocks declining for each one that advanced. The gauge has fallen 7.7 percent this year as the financial crisis weighed on economies and corporate profits.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.1 percent. Most markets in the region declined except Hong Kong, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.