U.K. Stocks Decline on Portuguese Political Instability

U.K. stocks dropped the most in more than a week after the Portuguese government lost the leader of its junior coalition partner, pushing the nation’s bond yields to their highest level this year.

Barclays Plc lost 2.6 percent as Standard & Poor’s cut its rating on the lender’s debt, citing tighter regulation and increased risk of litigation. Domino’s Pizza Group Plc dropped the most in three months after saying losses at its German outlets will be more than initially forecast for the year. Tullow Oil Plc rose 2 percent after doubling its estimates for two oil discoveries in Kenya.

The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) slumped 98.43 points, or 1.6 percent, to 6,205.51 at 2:52 p.m. in London. The equity benchmark plunged 5.6 percent in June, paring its gain in the first half to 5.4 percent. The FTSE All-Share Index lost 1.4 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index slumped 1.1 percent.

“All the hard work that had made investors regain confidence in Portugal during these past few years has collapsed,” said Hugo Fontinha, who helps manage about $2.2 trillion at State Street Global Advisors in London. “I’m not sure the government can last until the weekend as this political wrangling is unsustainable. Portas’s resignation has returned the country to the headlines. This is bad news for Europe.”

Portugal’s Debt

Portugal’s government bonds slumped, sending the yield on 10-year bonds above 8 percent in intraday trading for the first time since November, as Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho lost Paulo Portas, his foreign minister.

Portas, who leads the CDS party supporting the ruling coalition government, quit after Secretary of State for Treasury Maria Luis Albuquerque replaced Vitor Gaspar at the Ministry of Finance. Portas said the new minister would offer “mere continuity” of the country’s deficit-cutting plans as the final 12 months of the nation’s bailout program collide with mounting austerity fatigue.

West Texas Intermediate crude surged as political uncertainty in Egypt escalated and an industry report showed that U.S. stockpiles shrank the most this year. Oil rose 1.8 percent to $101.37, its highest price since May 1, 2012.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi defied protests calling for his resignation and rebuffed the military’s deadline to end the political crisis. Clashes between Mursi’s supporters and opponents intensified with at least 23 people killed over the past day, according to state-run media. Mursi’s group has vowed to stand firm against what it sees as the threat of a military coup.

Barclays, Domino’s

Barclays lost 2.6 percent to 275.55 pence. S&P downgraded the bank’s long-term counterparty credit rating, according to a statement late yesterday. The lender is among European banks that are most exposed to proposed rules that could reduce revenue from trading and investment-banking operations, the ratings company said.

Domino’s Pizza declined 4 percent to 642 pence, the biggest retreat since April 3. The company said losses in Germany (DOM), where it has 25 stores, may exceed the chain’s original forecast by as much as 3 million pounds ($4.6 million).

Spirent Communications Plc (SPT), a maker of testing equipment for phone systems, plunged 7 percent to 125 pence. The company said it may report sales of $92.7 million for the second quarter ended June due to slower sales for networks and applications. That compared with the $116.3 million-average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

An index of London-listed mining stocks slumped to its lowest level in almost four years as Anglo American Plc slid 5.2 percent to 1,213 pence and Rio Tinto Group lost 2.5 percent to 2,625 pence. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, dropped 3.3 percent to 1,654.5 pence, its lowest price in 13 months.

Tullow Oil, the first explorer to find oil in Kenya, increased 2 percent to 1,054 pence. Two discoveries in the East African country’s Lokichar Basin may hold more than 250 million barrels of oil, the company said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sofia Horta e Costa in London at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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