European Stocks Decline as Russia Resumes Military Drills

Frankfurt (Apr 24)  European stocks declined a second day as Russia restarted military drills along its border with Ukraine, offsetting gains by companies from Alstom SA (ALO) to Telekom Austria AG on increased mergers-and-acquisitions activity.

Konecranes Oyj slid 4.6 percent after reporting first-quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates. Alstom climbed 9.3 percent after people familiar with the matter said General Electric Co. has held talks to buy the French train maker. Telekom Austria jumped 6.8 percent after America Movil SAB said it will buy out the company’s minority shareholders. Technip SA added 7.8 percent after posting profit that beat projections.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.4 percent to 333.56 at 2:51 p.m. in London, erasing a gain of as much as 0.8 percent. The equity benchmark fell yesterday for the first time in four days as new-house sales in the U.S. unexpectedly plunged. The gauge is 1.6 percent away from the six-year high it reached on April 4.

National benchmark indexes dropped in 14 of the 17 western-European markets that opened today. Iceland’s market closed as the country celebrated the first day of summer. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed less than 0.1 percent, France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent and Germany’s DAX lost 1.1 percent.

Konecranes, Michelin

Konecranes dropped 4.6 percent to 21.80 euros after the Finnish maker of cranes posted first-quarter sales of 427 million euros ($590 million), missing analysts’ forecasts of 472 million euros.

Michelin & Cie. lost 4.1 percent to 88.92 euros after Europe’s largest tiremaker said sales fell 2.4 percent to 4.76 billion euros in the first quarter as conflict between Russia and Ukraine weakened demand in eastern Europe.

Alstom climbed 9.3 percent to 26.61 euros after a person familiar with the matter said GE may offer more than $13 billion for the builder of trains and power plants. The companies may announce an agreement as early as next week, the people said.

The developer of wind farms said it does not know of any bid for the company. The shares pared a rally of as much as 18 percent after Le Figaro reported that GE is only interested in buying Alstom’s energy assets. Bouygues SA, which owns 29 percent of the shares according to data compiled by Bloomberg, climbed 3.5 percent to 30.02 euros.