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European Stocks Slide After Profit Warnings

European stocks fell on Friday as profit warnings by retail bellwether Carrefour and mobile-phone maker Sony Ericsson rattled investors and added to worries about record oil prices.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares unofficially closed the roller-coaster session 0.4 percent lower at 1191.88 points. On the week, the index has lost 2.5 percent.

London's FTSE 100-stock index gained nearly 12 points to close at 5529.90, while France's CAC-40 index and Germany's Xetra Dax index declined.

Shares of French supermarket Carrefour sank 7.8 percent, hitting their lowest level in more than three years after the world's second biggest retailer behind Wal-Marttoned down its 2008 operating profit forecast.

Deutsche Bank downgraded its rating on Carrefour to "hold" from "buy," citing valuation.

French rival Casino shed 8.3 percent, while Ahold fell 3.4 percent, Sainsbury lost 2 percent and Metro AG dropped 1.2 percent.

"I remain very bearish on stocks, even at current prices," said Christian Jimenez, president of IMENE Investment Partners, in Paris. "We're seeing retailers getting punished as consumers' wallets are getting hit by high oil prices. They pay more at the pump and they have less money to spend."

Mobile-phone maker Sony Ericsson warned it would make no profit in the second quarter due to weaker demand for its more expensive phones, sending shares in co-owner Ericsson down 7.6 percent.

Finnish rival Nokia dropped 4.5 percent after Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on the handset maker to "neutral."

Banking stocks, which have been hammered over the past year by worries over a meltdown in the U.S. subprime mortgage market, lost ground on Friday, with UBS down 2.5 percent and BNP Paribas down 1.9 percent.

"The financial crisis is far from over. More capital increases from banks will be necessary, but investors will become more and more reluctant to provide them,'' Jimenez said.

On the upside, mining and energy shares advanced as U.S. crude oil futures remained above $140 and metal prices rose.

Total gained 2 percent, Rio Tinto added 2.5 percent and Anglo American advanced 2.8 percent.

Stocks Fall 2.5% for Week

The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 2.5 percent this week, marking the 16th down week of the 26 weeks so far in 2008. The index is down 21 percent year-to-date, hit by fears of a U.S. recession, rising inflation and a crisis in the credit market.

"People are closely watching inflation data. As long as we don't come back to more muted inflation figures and that house prices in the U.S. and Europe stop falling, it is difficult to see how the market could really bounce back,'' said Benoit De Broissia, analyst at Richelieu Finance in Paris.

"But that being said, stocks are close to reaching a floor, and, unless we get a really deep U.S. recession, there is a potential on the upside. But for now visibility remains quite poor.''

The U.K.'s FTSE 100-share index gained 0.2 percent, while Germany's Xetra Dax index fell 0.6 percent and France's CAC-40 index shed 0.7 percent.

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