Europe Stocks Fall for First Time in Six Days

European stocks dropped for the first time in six days, led by commodity producers as Alcoa Inc. cut its dividend and Royal Dutch Shell Plc failed to match all of last year’s oil and gas production with new discoveries. Asian shares advanced., Bloomberg 3/17/2009 6:10:51 AM

Alcoa tumbled 12 percent in pre-market New York trading on plans to sell stock and convertible notes as the largest U.S. aluminum maker braces for a quarterly loss. Shell, Europe’s biggest oil company by market value, slipped 2.6 percent. Zodiac SA sank 14 percent after Europe’s biggest maker of aircraft seats said operating profit may trail its target.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index fell 1 percent at 12:40 p.m. in London. Europe’s regional gauge had posted a five-day, 9.6 percent surge after Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said they made money during the first two months of 2009. The Stoxx 600 has still lost 14 percent since Dec. 31.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose for a third day, climbing 1.6 percent after Australia said it may lower interest rates. Wesfarmers Ltd., the country’s second-biggest retailer, led the advance. The Bank of Japan said after that close of trading in Tokyo that it will buy subordinated debt from banks in an effort to spur lending and ease the nation’s recession.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 244.98, or 3.2 percent, to close at 7,949.13, a level not seen since Feb. 9. The gauge surged 10 percent in the past three days, a rally unmatched since November. The broader Topix index climbed 18.95, or 2.6 percent, to 760.64, adding 8.5 percent in the past three days.