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Europe: Stocks fall as Greece, creditors reject new proposals

[FRANKFURT] European stocks slid as the prospect of a Greek debt deal receded after the Mediterranean nation and its creditors rejected each other's revised proposals.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.4 per cent to 397.32 at the close of trading, after earlier losing as much as 0.7 per cent. The ASE Index snapped a four-day winning streak, falling 1.8 per cent, for the biggest drop among western-European markets. Portugal's PSI 20 Index slid 1.3 per cent, for the second-worst performance.

Greece's creditors earlier turned down the latest offer from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, instead handing the government new terms for a deal to unlock bailout funds. Tsipras denounced the rejection, before setting off for Brussels to meet the heads of the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission. His government later turned down the counter proposal, saying it differed little from an earlier document that had also been shot down.

"A deal has been rejected and it's not as clear cut as it was a couple of days ago," said Jasper Lawler, a market analyst at CMC Markets Plc in London. "They're probably going to come up with a last-minute fudge. There's still some lingering hope that they'll bring more proposals, enough to get to a deal before this deadline."

Euro-area finance ministers gather in Brussels in an effort to reach a deal before Greece's bailout expires and about 1.5 billion euros in payments fall due to the IMF on June 30.

German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger downplayed the chances of an imminent deal. "Our impression is that there's still a long way to go," he told reporters at a regular government press briefing in Berlin.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, Delhaize Group slid 7.7 per cent after agreeing to an all-share takeover offer from Royal Ahold NV.

Bouygues SA tumbled 9.3 per cent after rejecting billionaire Patrick Drahi's bid for its telecommunications unit. Drahi's phone and cable unit Numericable-SFR, which made the offer, slid 9.4 per cent. Its holding company, Altice SA, dropped 4.8 per cent. Rival Orange SA fell 3.3 per cent and Iliad SA lost 8.5 per cent.

Elementis Plc plummeted 17 per cent after forecasting full- year earnings would be below market estimates.

Julius Baer Group Ltd rose 3.3 per cent after Switzerland's third-largest wealth manager said it will take a provision of US$350 million to settle a US criminal investigation into whether it helped Americans evade taxes.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc pushed energy companies to the best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600.