Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Stocks in Europe declined for a second day as investors awaited U.S. data and this week’s European Central Bank meeting for indications of the direction of monetary policy.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.7 percent at 8:22 a.m. in London. The gauge yesterday snapped its longest winning streak in almost seven weeks as banks slid. U.S. data on manufacturing today and a key payroll report due Friday will be parsed for clues as to whether the world’s biggest economy can withstand a potential rate increase next month, while the ECB announces its rate decision on Thursday, followed by a press conference by President Mario Draghi.

Traders are pricing in a 24 percent chance of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike in June, and July is the first month with at least even odds of higher borrowing costs.

European shares had regained momentum last week after falling as much as 5.4 percent from an April 20 high, posting their biggest advance since February. The Stoxx 600 added 1.8 percent in May, its best monthly gain since November.

Switzerland’s benchmark SMI Index retreated 0.4 percent today as a report showed the economy barely grew in the first quarter as government spending fell for the first time in a year.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, Royal Ahold NV rose 1.7 percent after the Dutch grocery chain that’s merging with Delhaize Group reported first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ predictions. Elekta AB fell 1.5 percent after the Swedish maker of medical devices posted disappointing fourth-quarter revenue and profit, and forecast weak results for the first half of the year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alan Soughley in Frankfurt at asoughley@bloomberg.net, Roxana Zega in Zurich at rzega@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net, Alan Soughley

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