U.K. Stocks Drop for Second Day; Antofagasta, GKN Slide
U.K. stocks retreated for a second day, led by mining companies, as U.S. durable-goods orders trailed forecasts and European officials warned that boosting the region’s rescue fund won’t solve its debt crisis.
Antofagasta Plc (ANTO) and Vedanta Resources Plc (VED) dropped more than 5 percent as copper tumbled amid signs of slowing demand in China. GKN Plc (GKN) slid for a second day after the company was said to be nearing a deal to buy Volvo AB’s aircraft-engine unit. ICAP Plc lost 3.5 percent as the company said full-year results would be in line with analyst estimates.
The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) declined 60.56, or 1 percent, to 5,808.99 at the close in London as seven companies including Anglo American and Prudential Plc all traded without the right to the latest dividend. The FTSE All-Share Index also fell 1 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index rose 0.2 percent.
“U.S. durable orders were weaker than expected so the market used that as an excuse to sell off,” said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index in London. “The move lower is mainly profit taking. The market has had an incredible run so increasingly people are wondering what the next catalyst will be to drive it higher.”
The FTSE 100 has rallied 4.3 percent this year, boosted by the European Central Bank’s 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) in loans to the region’s financial institutions.
U.S. orders for durable goods rose less than economists had estimated in February. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years advanced 2.2 percent, a report from the Commerce Department showed. Economists had predicted a 3 percent gain, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.
Stocks extended losses as European Central Bank Governing Council member Jens Weidmann said boosting the region’s rescue funds will not solve its debt crisis, days before finance ministers meet to discuss expanding the limit.
Ministers are expected to bolster Europe’s crisis funds to between 700 billion euros ($934 billion) and 940 billion euros at a meeting in Copenhagen on March 30.
“If we continue to make it higher and higher, we will, in fact, run into more worldly constraints,” Weidmann said in a speech at Chatham House in London today.
Antofagasta, the copper producer controlled by Chile’s Luksic family, paced a gauge of mining shares lower today, falling 5.4 percent to 1,118 pence. Vedanta lost 5.5 percent to 1,232 pence and Xstrata Plc (XTA) slid 3.4 percent to 1,068.5 pence.
Copper fell 2.2 percent in London trading as Chinese demand for the metal based on trade data climbed 26 percent in January and February from a year earlier, Standard Chartered Plc said in report dated yesterday. That’s down from 30 percent growth in December.
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) and Fresnillo Plc (FRES), which produce gold and silver, also declined, sliding 2.4 percent to 5,490 pence and 4.1 percent to 1,609 pence, respectively, as precious metals retreated.
GKN lost 2.1 percent to 207.1 pence after two people familiar with the situation said the company is looking to close a deal to buy Volvo Aero in the next month.
The British maker of aircraft components is the remaining bidder for Volvo Aero as other potential buyers have dropped out, said the people, who declined to be identified as the talks are private.
ICAP lost 3.5 percent to 394.6 pence after the biggest broker of transactions between banks said full-year earnings would be were in line with analyst estimates and credit markets “remain challenging.”
The company said in February it expects pretax profit for the year to be at the upper end of analyst estimates, which range from 336 million pounds ($536 million) to 358 million pounds.
JKX Oil & Gas Plc (JKX), an oil and gas producer active in Ukraine and Russia, tumbled 14 percent to 157/75 pence after the board opted not to reinstate a dividend.
PV Crystalox Solar Plc (PVCS) slid 9.4 percent to 4.61 pence, the largest decline in more than two months. The U.K. maker of solar-power components reported a full-year net loss and canceled its dividend due to “very challenging” market conditions.
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