LONDON -- European equity markets have been managing to squeeze out some gains today, looking set to put an end to the recent slide as weaker-than-expected GDP data from China overnight encourages speculation that the Asian giant will now begin to implement growth stimulus measures.
This buoyant attitude was tempered a little, however, after the ratings agency Moody's reduced the debt rating of Italy by two notches to "Baa2" and reiterated its negative outlook for the country due to weak growth expectations and the potential for contagion from Greece and Spain.
With this, the European peripheral markets are among the weakest today, while the German DAX (INDEX: ^GDAXI ) is one of the best-performing benchmark indexes, up 0.9%.
The telecom sector has been seeing some broad gains in Europe this morning, helped by news yesterday that EU regulators will not push for reduced access prices on old copper Internet networks on the continent. Deutsche Telekom (NASDAQOTH: DTEGY.PK) is leading the sector, up around 3.6% after Credit Suisse raised its stock outlook on the company from "underperform" to "neutral" and increased its price target from 8.5 euros to 9 euros.
Meanwhile, French media and software firm Vivendi (NASDAQOTH: VIVHY.PK) is one of the best performers in Paris, up 2.5% on news that it may sell its $8.1 billion stake in U.S. video game producer Activision Blizzard. This followed comments from Vivendi Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou at a media conference in Sun Valley yesterday, implying that the company would consider offers for its 61% stake in Blizzard.
On the other side of the market, Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB ) is seeing sharp losses, down 2.2% after a report by Morgan Stanley said the company could face one of the largest fines of the 16 banks facing potential lawsuits due to the LIBOR-fixing scandal. The report said the bank could face as much as a $1.04 billion fine and legal expenses because of its role in LIBOR-fixing, although Morgan Stanley does suggest that these costs probably wouldn't apply until 2013 or 2014.
Elsewhere, the Finnish phone maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is down 2.1% after it announced it will close two of its Chinese regional sales offices as part of a planned restructuring which it announced last month. The company said it will shut offices in Chengdu and Shanghai, consolidating its operations into a northern hub in Beijing and a southern hub in Guangzhou.
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