U.K. stocks declined as mining companies fell, offsetting a signal by finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations that Japan has scope for further monetary stimulus.
Anglo American Plc contributed the most to the FTSE 100 Index’s retreat. International Consolidated Airlines Group SA slid 1.6 percent as employees at its Spanish unit began a strike. Bumi Plc climbed 4.4 percent after an Indonesian regulator said any new owner for the PT Bumi Resources business must make a tender offer.
The FTSE 100 lost 10.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,318.19 at the close in London. The equity benchmark has still rallied 7.1 percent so far this year as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget and postponed a decision on spending cuts to March. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also dropped 0.2 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index was little changed. U.S. markets are closed today for President’s Day.
“Things are lackluster today and the earnings season has disappointed investors,” Gerard Lane, a strategist at Shore Capital Group Ltd. in Liverpool, England, said in a phone interview. “Volumes are quite low, which is down to the half-term holiday in the U.K. and also U.S. markets being closed today. The biggest event in the next two weeks will be the ongoing rhetoric between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S.”
The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 49 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Japan won backing for its monetary policies to stimulate the economy, a move that has led to a drop in the yen, at a meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers in Moscow.
“There was no censure of the Japanese attitude, which was considered a policy to develop its economy and not to intentionally devalue,” Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters after the meeting over the weekend.
In the U.K., house sellers raised their asking prices by 2.8 percent in February to 235,741 pounds ($365,000), their highest in five years, according to a report by property-website operator Rightmove Plc. They increased 1.1 percent from a year earlier. In London, asking prices gained 1.2 percent.
Anglo American retreated 2.8 percent to 1,983 pence after its South African unit said that security officials shot nine workers during fighting at a mine in Rustenburg. There were no fatalities and the injured employees received medical attention, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said in a statement.
A gauge of mining stocks in the FTSE 350 Index fell 0.9 percent as copper prices declined 1.1 percent in London. Rio Tinto, the world’s second-biggest mining company, slipped 0.6 percent to 3,711 pence. Antofagasta Plc, the metals producer owned by Chile’s Luksic family, slid 1.9 percent to 1,098 pence.
IAG lost 3.7 pence to 224.2 pence after 18,500 employees at its Iberia unit went on strike, the largest industrial dispute in the Spanish carrier’s history. Iberia’s unions have called 15 days of stoppages this month to protest against the airline’s decision to reduce operations and eliminate 3,147 jobs.
Carnival Corp. lost 1.7 percent to 2,462 pence after the New York Times reported that the company will begin a detailed inspection of its Triumph ship, which was towed to shore last week following a fire. About 3,100 passengers had been trapped aboard the cruise ship after the engine-room fire off the coast of Mexico cut its power.
Bumi advanced 16.7 pence to 394 pence. Indonesia’s financial-services regulator said today that the company will have to offer to buy out the other shareholders in its PT Bumi Resources unit if it is deemed that the ownership of the parent group has changed.
Nathaniel Rothschild, a co-founder of the coal producer, has called an extraordinary general meeting for Feb. 21 in an attempt to replace 12 of Bumi’s 14 directors. The Bakrie Group, the other co-founder, has said that changing the directors would constitute a change of control, forcing the London-listed company to make an offer for the 71 percent of PT Bumi Resources that it doesn’t already own.