U.K. Stocks Drop for First Time in Four Days; BT Falls

U.K. stocks fell for the first time in four days as Hurricane Sandy headed for the U.S. East Coast, potentially affecting 60 million people.

BT Group Plc slid 1.5 percent after a person familiar with the matter said an unfavorable regulatory decision will reduce the company’s wholesale revenue. Hargreaves Lansdown Plc dropped 4.2 percent after Citigroup Inc. cut its recommendation on the shares. Premier Foods Plc jumped to the highest level in almost five months after a report said the company may seek a bid.

The FTSE 100 fell 11.61 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,795.1 at the close in London. The equity benchmark has rallied 10 percent from this year’s low on June 1 as the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-buying plan and the Federal Reserve started a third round of quantitative easing. The broader FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.2 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index retreated 0.5 percent.

Markets have made “a quiet start to the week as Hurricane Sandy hits the U.S.” said Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets Plc in London. “Speculation about the timing of a Spanish bailout request continue to dominate investor’s thoughts.”

In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission may extend the trading shutdown through Oct. 30. The securities industry deemed the storm, which is expected today on the shores of southern New Jersey, too risky for workers to travel.

The volume of shares changing hands on the FTSE 100 Index companies was 41 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Spain, Italy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said today he will seek a sovereign bailout when he judges it’s in his country’s interests. He spoke at a joint press conference in Madrid with his Italian counterpart Mario Monti, who signaled last week he would like Spain to seek a full sovereign bailout from the European Union.

European policy makers are awaiting a final report due Nov. 12 on Greece’s progress in meeting its debt targets. Officials from the European Commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund proposed a restructuring of Greek debt that would require public banks to take heavy losses, Spiegel reported yesterday, without saying where it got the information.

BT, the U.K.’s largest fixed-line phone company, lost 1.5 percent to 213.9 pence. A regulatory decision about the amount it charges mobile-phone operators for certain calls may reduce wholesale revenue according to a person familiar with the matter. The company will report second-quarter earnings on Nov. 1.

Hargreaves Lansdown slid 4.2 percent to 727.5 pence after Citigroup lowered its rating on the shares to sell from neutral.

BP Plc slid 1.5 percent to 425 pence after crude oil prices dropped for the first time in three days.

Premier Foods jumped 11 percent to 101.5 pence, the highest price since June 1. The company has asked private equity firms to consider buying it for 1.2 billion pounds, Sunday Telegraph reported citing unidentified people close to the matter.

Sage Group Plc advanced 1.8 percent to 309.8 pence after Citigroup upgraded the shares to buy from neutral.

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