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European Stocks Drop, Posting Worst Week Since May 2012

European stocks fell, completing their biggest weekly drop since May 2012, amid concern the region’s central bank will face obstacles in its measures to revive the region’s economy.

The Stoxx 600 dropped 1.6 percent to 321.62 at the close, its lowest level since Feb. 5, after paring a retreat of as much as 1.9 percent. The gauge lost 4.1 percent this week as theInternational Monetary Fundcut its global-growth forecasts and German industrial output shrank the most since 2009.

“The selloff has been a long time coming,” Gerard Lane, a strategist at Shore Capital Group Ltd., said by phone from Liverpool, England. “Reality is hitting home for investors. Weak domestic economic growth in Europe will probably be long lasting. The ECB doesn’t know what to do. And if they knew what to do, Germany wouldn’t let them do it.”

The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 37 percent greater than the 30-day average for this time of the day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The equity gauge has slumped 8 percent since June 10, when it reached its highest level in more than six years.

Differences between the ECB and Germany over the steps needed to revive the euro-area economy came to the fore yesterday. Speaking in Washington, ECB President Mario Draghi pledged to keep monetary policy loose and urged those governments with the room to ease fiscal policy to do so. By contrast, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned against U.S.-style quantitative easing and urged continued budgetary discipline.

The squabble demonstrates the lack of a common front in euro-area policy making as its economy continues to deteriorate and the IMF estimates there is as much as a 40 percent risk of a third recession since 2008.

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