U.K. stocks retreated for the third time in four days, as mining companies fell, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke damped speculation of further measures to stimulate growth in the U.S. economy.
Vedanta Resources Plc led mining shares lower as commodities dropped. Persimmon Plc fell after the stock was cut to “hold” at Deutsche Bank AG. Henderson Group Plc (HGG) fell after warning of an“uncertain outlook.” ITV Plc (ITV) advanced after posting full-year profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
The benchmark FTSE 100 Index (UKX) lost 1 percent to 5,871.51 at the close of trading in London. The measure has rallied 3.2 percent this month and 5.4 percent this year. The FTSE All-Share Index slipped 0.9 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 0.9 percent.
“While the evolving European developments have the potential to meaningfully impact the direction of markets, our central expectation is for continued uncertainty and associated high volatility in underlying markets,” said Morten Spenner, the London-based chief executive officer of International Asset Management Ltd., which oversees $2.5 billion.
European banks tapped the ECB for more three-year cash than economists had forecast. The Frankfurt-based central bank said today it will lend 800 financial institutions 529.5 billion euros for 1,092 days. Economists had predicted an allotment of 470 billion euros, according to the median of 28 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Banks borrowed 489 billion euros in the first three-year operation in December.
U.K. Consumer Confidence
U.K. consumer confidence held at the highest level since June this month as slowing inflation eased pressure on consumers, according to a report from GfK NOP Ltd. The index of sentiment remained at minus 29 in February, the London-based research group said.
Gold fell, heading for its biggest decline this year, after Bernanke’s testimony to Congress. Copper, lead and nickel all dropped on the London Metal Exchange.
Vedanta fell 4.1 percent to 1,440 pence as mining shares led declines on the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Rio Tinto Group fell 2.3 percent to 2,037.5 pence and 2.4 percent to 3,584 pence respectively. Petropavlovsk Plc dropped 3.4 percent to 718.5 pence.
Essar Energy Plc (ESSR) plunged 7.5 percent to 104.9 pence. The stock was downgraded to “neutral” from “outperform” at Credit Suisse.
Persimmon, Aberdeen Retreat
Persimmon fell 4.4 percent to 675.5 pence after the stock was cut to “hold” from “buy” at Deutsche Bank AG.
Aberdeen Asset Management Plc (ADN) sank 5 percent to 240.7 pence after Credit Suisse Group AG sold shares in the Scottish company at a 5.3 percent discount to yesterday’s closing price.
Henderson Group Plc slumped 7.1 percent to 119.2 pence after warning of an “uncertain outlook” for 2012. Customers withdrew 10 percent of the fund manager’s assets as equity markets tumbled in the second half amid speculation that Greece would default on its debt. They continued to take money out after the start of this year, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Formica told reporters today.
IG Group Holdings Plc (IGG) fell 4.5 percent to 442.4 pence after the stock was cut to “neutral” from “buy” at Citigroup Inc.
ITV surged 6.8 percent to 85.95 pence, its biggest advance in a year. The U.K.’s biggest terrestrial commercial broadcaster reported 2011 profit that beat analysts’ estimates as the company made agreements to offer TV online, expanding services that don’t rely as heavily on advertising.
Profit, excluding financing and tax adjustments and other one-off items, rose to 7.9 pence a share in 2011 from 6.4 pence in 2010, the company said. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey had forecast 7.1 pence.
National Express Group Plc (NEX) jumped 5.6 percent to 233.5 pence. The stock was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Investec Securities.
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