ECONOMY

European stocks decline as investors await ECB policy meeting

European stocks fell, extending their lowest level in more than five weeks, as investors awaited the outcome of the European Central Bank’s policy review. U.S. index futures were little changed, while Asian shares dropped.

All industry sectors declined. A gauge of commodity producers posted the biggest slide among 19 groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, reaching its lowest level since March. Royal Philips NV fell 1.1 percent after losing a patent trial.

The Stoxx 600 retreated 0.4 percent to 338.73 at 8:13 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge closed at its lowest level since Aug. 22 yesterday, as Italy cut its economic-growth forecasts and U.S. manufacturing data missed estimates. The gauge has fallen 2.9 percent since its almost six-year high on Sept. 4.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added less than 0.1 percent today, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1.1 percent, extending its lowest level since May.

The ECB, seeking to fight the threat of deflation and revive the economy, will probably leave its three main interest rates unchanged after unexpectedly lowering them last month, according to the median economist forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. President Mario Draghi pledged to start a program this month to buy asset-backed securities and covered bonds.

Policy makers gathering in Italy will give their decision at 1:45 p.m. local time. Draghi will speak 45 minutes later.

In the U.S., jobless claims probably rose to 297,000 in the week ended Sept. 27 from 293,000 in the previous period, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before the report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Separate data may show factory orders dropped in August.

Philips fell 1.1 percent to 24.40 euros. Jurors handed the world’s largest lighting company a $466 million defeat for infringing Masimo Corp. patents covering technology used in fingertip devices. The jury also decided that Masimo didn’t infringe a Philips patent. [Bloomberg]