U.K. Stocks Fall for Third Day as German Debt Outlook Cut

U.K. stocks fell for a third day as Moody’s Investors Service cut Germany’s credit outlook and a U.S. manufacturing gauge compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond dropped more than forecast.

Vodafone Group Plc dropped 1 percent after Dutch peer Royal KPN NV cut its dividend forecast. Elan Corp. plunged the most in two years in Dublin after its experimental Alzheimer’s drug failed a trial. Man Group Plc rallied 4.1 percent as the biggest publicly traded hedge fund manager said it will double cost cuts and reduce reliance on products with steeper commissions.

The FTSE 100 Index retreated 34.64 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,499.23 at the close in London, extending the three-day drop to 3.8 percent. The gauge has still climbed 4.5 percent from its 2012 low on June 1 as central banks announced measures to support the economy. The broader FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.6 percent today and Ireland’s ISEQ Index sank 1.7 percent.

“Growth in the euro zone is very hard to come by nowadays and this is affecting Germany’s activity too,” said Simon Denham, managing director of Capital Spreads in London. “With question marks over the prized triple-A credit rating of Europe’s largest economy, the markets are likely to remain on the back foot.”

Moody’s lowered the outlooks for the Aaa credit ratings of Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to negative. The risk that Greece will leave the euro area and “increasing likelihood” of collective support for countries in debt such as Spain and Italy were among reasons for the change, Moody’s said late yesterday in a statement.

German Economy

In Germany, an index based on a survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing industry declined to 43.3 this month from 45 in June, while a services gauge fell to 49.7 from 49.9, London-based Markit Economics said in a report today. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

A U.S. report showed manufacturing in the region covered by the Fed Bank of Richmond contracted more than economists had forecast for the month of July. The central bank’s fifth district factory index, which covers North and South Carolina, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and most of West Virginia, fell to minus 17, the lowest level since 2009, from minus 3 in June. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected the index would rise to minus 1. Reading less than zero signal contraction.

China Manufacturing

China’s manufacturing may contract at a slower pace in July as the government’s stimulus starts to reverse the economy’s slowdown, a private survey indicated. The 49.5 preliminary reading for a purchasing managers’ index released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today compared with a final 48.2 for June. A number above 50 indicates expansion.

Vodafone declined 1 percent to 177.45 pence after KPN cut its dividend forecast by 61 percent. The Dutch phone company reported second-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates as service demand in its home market contracted.

Elan tumbled 11 percent to 9.85 euros in Dublin, the most since June 2010. Bapineuzumab, an experimental Alzheimer’s drug the company was developing along with Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, failed to improve signs of dementia in the first of four studies testing the drug.

Elan shares make up 10 percent of Ireland’s ISEQ Index by weighting, according to Bloomberg data.

Banks Drop

A gauge of banking shares declined 1.1 percent as the European Commission said it will propose tomorrow that manipulation of interbank lending rates should be subject to criminal sanctions.

Standard Chartered Plc fell 2 percent to 1,429 pence and Lloyds Banking Group Plc declined 1.8 percent to 28.76 pence.

Man Group jumped 4.1 percent to 72 pence. The company said it will reduce expenses by $100 million over the next 18 months, adding to $95 million of cost cuts announced in March. It also plans to sell fewer so-called guaranteed products, which generate high commissions for employees and have drawn subdued demand from customers.

Provident Financial Plc surged 11 percent to 1,297 pence. The U.K.’s biggest subprime lender said first-half net income rose 20 percent after the number of customers taking out high-interest credit cards increased.

Croda International Plc added 6.1 percent to 2,364 pence after the world’s second-largest maker of cosmetic ingredients reported a 6.3 percent gain in first-half pretax profit on higher demand in North America. Croda’s “strong” results may provide reassurance to investors, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a report.

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