European stocks continue their tumble

European stocks fell Friday for a fifth day, posting their biggest weekly selloff since September, amid signs of slowing growth in China and continued concern that Greece will have to leave the euro area.

Rio Tinto Group and Volkswagen led mining companies and carmakers lower. Industrial goods companies retreated after Caterpillar reported slowing sales. London Stock Exchange Group paced rising shares after reporting that second-half profit quadrupled.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 1.1 percent to 238.88 at the close in London. The equity benchmark slumped 5.2 percent this week and 7.2 percent this month. That would be the largest monthly drop since last August.

"On a medium-term view, there is certainly valuation support for equities, particularly relative to government bonds which have now hit quite remarkable levels," said Bill Dinning, an investment strategist at Kames Capital in Edinburgh which oversees about $79 billion. "However, that doesn't help much in terms of timing. Obviously, we are back in a situation where the euro area is having an existential crisis."

The benchmark Stoxx 600 fell 1.1 percent Thursday as the European Central Bank temporarily halted lending to some Greek banks and speculation mounted that Moody's Investors Service would downgrade Spanish lenders. The volume of shares changing hands on the gauge was 29 higher today than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

National benchmark indexes retreated in 14 of the 17 western-European market that opened Friday. Britain's FTSE 100 slid 1.3 percent, while Germany's DAX slid 0.6 percent. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent. Sweden's OMX dropped 3.1 percent. The gauge reopened after a public holiday Thursday. Denmark was closed for a holiday Friday.

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