U.K. stocks erased their drop in the final two hours of trading, leaving the benchmark FTSE 100 Index little changed, as Man Group Plc rebounded, offsetting concern over Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s decision to quit.
Man Group gained 5 percent as the hedge-fund manager said the chief executive officer will leave February next year. Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. declined 2.4 percent after offering to buy the remaining stake in Camrose Resources Ltd. Greggs Plc fell 2.9 percent after saying Chief Executive Officer Ken McMeikan will leave the company.
The FTSE 100 rose 7.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,921.63 at the close in London, erasing an earlier decline of as much as 0.4 percent. The equity benchmark has rallied more than 13 percent from its lowest level this year on June 1 as the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-buying plan and the Federal Reserve began a third round of asset purchases. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also gained 0.1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index lost 0.5 percent.
“The news this weekend over Monti is a clear negative,” said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of strategy at ING Investment Management in the Hague, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The question is if over the next couple of weeks we get confirmation that public support remains for a relatively stable government.”
In Italy, Monti told President Giorgio Napolitano that he will resign as soon as Parliament approves the country’s budget. Berlusconi’s People of Liberty will back the government in the vote, according to the party’s general secretary. The 76-year-old former prime minister announced on Dec. 8 that he will contest the premiership in elections due as early as February next year.
In China, reports from the statistics bureau showed industrial production climbed 10.1 percent last month, while retail sales jumped 14.9 percent. Economists had predicted growth of 9.8 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively, according to the median forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.
Even so, a separate release showed that exports expanded at a slower pace than projected, rising 2.9 percent in November from a year earlier.
Man Group jumped 5 percent to 77.3 pence after the biggest publicly traded hedge fund manager said Chief Operating Officer Manny Roman will replace Peter Clarke as CEO on Feb. 28. The stock has tumbled 39 percent this year.
Smith & Nephew
Smith & Nephew Plc rose 1.9 percent to 678.5 pence, the biggest gain on the FTSE 100, as Investec Plc raised Europe’s biggest maker of artificial hips and knees to buy from hold.
Standard Chartered Plc rose 0.8 percent to 1,497.5 pence after the lender agreed to pay U.S. regulators $327 million to settle claims that its transactions with Iranian clients violated U.S. sanctions. Britain’s second-largest bank told investors on Dec. 6 it expected to pay about $330 million.
Thomas Cook Group Plc surged 16 percent to 41.8 pence, rallying for a fifth straight day. The U.K. tour operator has risen 55 percent since its credit rating was cut at Fitch Ratings Ltd. on Dec. 4. Last week, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG recommended investors buy the stock.
ENRC fell 2.4 percent to 276.2 pence as it bid $550 million for the 49.5 percent of Camrose Resources that it doesn’t already own. The mining company has interests in copper and cobalt licenses in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Greggs dropped 2.9 percent to 472.5 pence, its biggest decline in two months. The U.K.’s largest chain of bakers said McMeikan will join Brakes Group as CEO. Greggs said McMeikan will remain in his job until the company finds a replacement.
WPP Plc retreated 1.1 percent to 860 pence. Deutsche Bank AG lowered its recommendation on the world’s biggest advertising company to hold from buy, saying that sales will grow at a slower pace in 2013 than the company has forecast.
Bumi Plc slipped 1.2 percent to 272 pence as the Bakrie Group said that some documents used to justify an investigation into the coal producer were stolen or accessed by hacking. Bumi, which was founded by the Bakrie family and Nathaniel Rothschild two years ago, began a probe on Sept. 24 into “potential financial and other irregularities” at the company’s Indonesian operations.