U.K. Stocks Fall After Fed Minutes, China Manufacturing

U.K. stocks fell, with the FTSE 100 (UKX) Index slipping for the first day in five, as Federal Reserve minutes signaled stimulus cuts will continue and preliminary data showed Chinese manufacturing shrank in February.

BAE Systems Plc (BA/) tumbled 8.8 percent after Europe’s largest defense company said earnings this year will fall as much as 10 percent. Rexam Plc (REX) sank 7 percent after the largest drinks-can maker said underlying operating profit was little changed in 2013. Fresnillo Plc (FRES) retreated 2.9 percent after RBC Capital Markets lowered its rating on the gold and silver miner to the equivalent of a hold.

The FTSE 100 retreated 39.13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,757.58 at 9:01 a.m. in London, paring its gain this year to 0.1 percent. The FTSE All-Share Index also dropped 0.6 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index fell 0.5 percent.

Fed Policy makers said they would soon have to modify their year-old commitment to keep their benchmark interest rate near zero until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, according to minutes of their January meeting released yesterday.

A Chinese manufacturing index fell to the lowest level in seven months, data showed today. The preliminary February reading of 48.3 for a purchasing managers’ index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics came in lower than January’s final figure of 49.5 and the 49.5 median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. A number below 50 indicates contraction.

To contact the reporter on this story: Inyoung Hwang in London at ihwang7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net

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