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U.K. Stocks Drop, Led by Persimmon, Lloyds, RBS; M&S Advances

U.K. stocks fell after the Bank of England maintained its emergency stimulus plan and left its interest rate unchanged at a record low, as investors waited for tomorrow’s U.S. jobs report.

Persimmon Plc led losses among homebuilders after a report showed house prices plunged in September by the most since at least 1983. Kazakhmys Plc fell 5.6 percent after Orleans Trade & Investment Corp. sold a stake in the copper producer. Retailers Marks & Spencer Group Plc, Mulberry Group Plc and Ted Baker Plc rose after reporting their latest financial results.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index dropped 19.26, or 0.3 percent, to 5,662.13 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London. The measure swung between gains and losses at least 11 times as a report showed U.K. manufacturing rose more than economists forecast in August. The FTSE All-Share Index also dropped 0.3 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index declined 0.6 percent.

The BOE’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, held the target for bond holdings at 200 billion pounds ($318.56 billion), as forecast by all but one of 36 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The panel also kept the benchmark interest rate at 0.5 percent at its meeting. The Federal Reserve signaled in the past two weeks that it may buy more assets to bolster U.S. growth, while the Bank of Japan on Oct. 5 pledged to make further purchases.

“What we’ve seen today is a classic game of ‘wait and see’ ahead of major data,” said Chris Purdy, a trader at Spreadex Ltd. in St Albans, England. “Investors have retired to the sidelines ahead of tomorrow’s figures.”

Homebuilders Drop

U.K. manufacturing rose more than economists forecast in August in a sign that the recovery in factory production is gaining traction. Output increased 0.3 percent from the previous month, when it gained a revised 0.4 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median forecast of 28 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a gain of 0.2 percent.

Lloyds Banking Group Plc dropped 3.3 percent to 73.9 pence after its mortgage lending division reported that U.K. house prices plunged in September by the most since its records began a quarter of a century ago. The Halifax said that “renewed uncertainty” about the British economy caused the average cost of a home to fall 3.6 percent from August to 162,096 pounds.

Persimmon lost 4.2 percent to 376.5 pence. Barratt Developments Plc, the U.K.’s biggest homebuilder by volume, declined 4.5 percent to 94.8 pence. Taylor Wimpey Plc, the country’s second-largest homebuilder by volume, fell 3.2 percent to 27.8 pence.

Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, the bank controlled by the state, fell 3.4 percent to 47.8 pence.

Kazkhmys, Marks & Spencer

Kazakhmys lost 5.6 percent to 1,400 pence. Credit Suisse Group AG managed the sale of a stake in the copper company. OTIC sold the stake at 1,410 pence a share, according to two people close to the offer who asked to remain unidentified.

Marks & Spencer rose 4.9 percent to 410 pence after it reported second-quarter sales growth that beat analysts’ estimates as the company won market share in clothing.

Mulberry jumped 11 percent to 440.5 pence, the biggest increase since July. The maker of Bayswater luxury handbags said sales and profit for the year ending March 31 “are expected to significantly exceed market expectations.”

Ted Baker gained 3.4 percent to 641 pence, the shares’ ninth advance. The clothing company that dressed James Bond actor Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale” said first-half profit increased 24 percent on higher retail sales in the U.K. and Europe.

Hargreaves Lansdown Plc dropped 4 percent to 452 pence. The investment-management and financial-planning company said non-executive director Stephen Lansdown sold 13,560,843 ordinary shares at 429 pence apiece.

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