U.K. Stocks Drop Amid Concern Euro-Area Debt Crisis May Deepen

U.K. stocks fell, extending this week’s loss for the benchmark FTSE 100 Index, as gains in basic-resources shares failed to offset ongoing concern the euro area’s debt crisis will worsen.

Man Group Plc dropped 2.3 percent after Deutsche Bank AG advised selling shares in the hedge-fund manager. Kazakhmys Plc rose 3.2 percent after saying it has a $1.5 billion loan facility for a project in Afghanistan. Xstrata Plc and Antofagasta Plc rallied more than 2 percent as metals rose.

The FTSE 100 retreated 13.51, or 0.3 percent, to 5,387.34 at the close in London, taking this week’s drop to 2.6 percent. The broader FTSE All-Share Index declined 0.3 percent today and Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 0.7 percent.

Stocks in Europe fell today as Standard & Poor’s said the region’s economies may see a larger contraction in 2012, outweighing a report that showed U.S. inflation remains in check. The FTSE 100 has dropped 8.7 percent in 2011 as Greece, Ireland and Portugal were bailed out and nations from France to Spain faced higher borrowing costs.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government won a confidence vote in the lower house of parliament today on a 30 billion-euro ($39 billion) austerity and growth package. A final ballot will be held this evening before the plan passes to the Senate, which will decide on it on Dec. 23.

Man Group, Essar

Man Group dropped 4.4 percent to 127.6 pence after Deutsche Bank reduced its recommendation on the company to “sell” from “buy.” The shares are down 57 percent this year.

Essar Energy Plc slumped 4.5 percent to 184.9 pence, its lowest price since its listing in May 2010. Credit Suisse Group AG analysts led by Edward Westlake cut their price estimates for European integrated oil companies, citing “challenging” downstream business environment.

Shanks Group Plc lost 6.3 percent to 95.1 pence after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. downgraded the waste-management company to “neutral” from “buy.”

Kazakhmys rose 3.2 percent to 874 pence and Antofagasta advanced 3.7 percent to 1,172 pence. Xstrata climbed 2.3 percent to 970 pence. Copper and nickel prices climbed in London.

Sports Direct International Plc surged 11 percent to 210 pence after the retailer dropped an offer to acquire Blacks Leisure Group Plc. Numis Securities Ltd. upgraded the stock to “buy” from “hold.”

“We are firmly of the view that Sports Direct will continue to benefit from share gains in a tough consumer environment and, as a result we see upside risk to our forecasts,” James Dilks-Hopper, a London-based analyst at Numis wrote in a report today.

Blacks Leisure sank 11 percent to 2 pence.

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