U.K. Stocks Retreat; FTSE 100 Declines for Second Month

U.K. stocks declined, pushing the benchmark FTSE 100 Index to its second successive monthly loss, as investors awaited further evidence this week on the outlook for economic growth in Britain and the euro-area.

Man Group Plc fell 3.3 percent, paring the biggest daily gain since November 2010. Aberdeen Asset Management Plc rose 3.5 percent after saying funds under management jumped 9 percent in the first half and reporting revenue that beat estimates. AstraZeneca Plc advanced after analysts at Jefferies Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. recommended the shares.

The FTSE 100 Index dropped 0.7 percent to 5,737.78 in London. The gauge retreated 0.5 percent this month, as Britain slipped into a double-dip recession and concerns that the euro-area debt crisis may deepen returned. The FTSE 100 has fallen 3.8 percent since its 2012 high on March 16. The FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.6 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index slipped 0.4 percent.

“This is year three of a global recovery, yet growth is still anemic,” said Jonathan Plant, market analyst at Liberum Capital Ltd. in London. “Conditions feel like May 2010 with an absence of bid or offer in the equity market. This is a macro-rich week. The globe continues to be attached to the austerity-growth pendulum.”

Financial Stimulus

Reports starting tomorrow on British manufacturing, construction and services will set the tone for data crunching by Bank of England officials as they prepare to decide on further quantitative easing at their meeting on May 10. The U.S. will release data on manufacturing and jobs this week.

Indexes extended today’s losses after a report showed a worse-than-expected reading for the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer in April.

“People are waiting to see what happens, ahead of so much news this week,” Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index in London, said in a phone interview. “There has been remarkable strength in this market, and although we have yet to recover this year’s high, we have been moving in that direction.”

Spain’s gross domestic product shrank less than previously forecast in the first quarter as the economy officially entered its second recession since 2009, the Madrid-based National Statistics Institute said today.

Man Group, the world’s biggest publicly traded hedge-fund manager, fell 3.3 percent to 103.5 pence, paring a 14 percent gain on April 27. The stock jumped the most since November 2010 at the end of last week as analysts recommended buying the shares on prospects for better returns and a potential bid.

Randgold, SSE

Randgold Resources Plc declined 3.4 percent to 5,425 pence. Shares in the gold miner were cut to reduce at Nomura Holdings Inc., which cited the stock’s valuation. Randgold shares have gained for seven successive years through 2011.

SSE Plc fell 1.1 percent to 1,321 pence. JPMorgan cut annual earnings estimates for the U.K.s second-biggest energy supplier, saying the company is entering “a period of potentially challenging news flow’” that is not “priced” in the stock.

Aquarius Platinum Ltd. tumbled 10 percent to 130 pence, its biggest slump since September. The fourth-largest platinum producer said it suspended the Siphumelele shaft and the M5 project at its Marikana operations in South Africa because of low local-currency prices for its metals. The company also missed fiscal third-quarter earnings estimates.

Aberdeen Asset Momentum

Aberdeen Asset Management Plc jumped 3.5 percent to 283.5 pence. The fund manager said it had revenue of 413.1 million pounds in the six months ended March 31, up from 385.9 million a year earlier. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey had projected 394.5 million pounds. Funds under management rose 9 percent to 184.7 billion pounds in the period.

“The business momentum at Aberdeen remains very strong, and our revised estimates appear well underpinned at prevailing market levels,” analysts at JPMorgan wrote in a report today. “We retain our overweight recommendation.”

AstraZeneca gained 0.7 percent to 2,699.5 pence. The shares dropped 6.5 percent last week after the drugs company cut its profit forecast for the year. The stock was upgraded to buy from hold at Jefferies and to neutral from underweight at JPMorgan today following the decline.

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