U.K. stocks declined the most in six weeks as a report showed U.S. employers hired fewer workers than forecast in March, and an outbreak of bird flu in Asia weighed on airline shares.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA and EasyJet Plc tracked losses in European carriers on concern the bird flu outbreak may lower travel demand. European Natural Resources Corp. climbed after UBS AG and Liberum Capital Ltd. recommended buying the shares.
The FTSE 100 fell 94.34 points, or 1.5 percent, to 6,249.78 in London, its biggest decline since Feb. 21. The benchmark posted a 2.5 percent weekly loss. The broader FTSE All-Share Index dropped 1.6 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index retreated 2.7 percent. The FTSE 100 has still rallied 6 percent this year as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget and data fueled optimism that the world’s biggest economy is recovering.
“The market expected more job creations, so is disappointed,” said Jerome Forneris, a fund manager at Banque Martin Maurel in Marseille, which oversees $8.5 billion. “There is also the bird-flu news. A few cases aren’t a problem but if it becomes a pandemic, it’s very worrisome and will touch a lot of industries.”
U.K. stocks yesterday posted the biggest two-day drop since July as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said he sees risks to the euro area’s economic recovery.
U.S. payrolls grew by 88,000 workers in March, the smallest in nine months, after a revised 268,000 gain in February that was higher than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 87 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an advance of 190,000.
The jobless rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent as the labor force shrank. The labor force participation rate declined to 63.3 percent, the lowest since May 1979.
IAG, the parent of British Airways, slid 6.9 percent to 234.9 pence, its biggest decline since November 2011. The death toll from a new strain of bird flu in China rose to six people as authorities in Shanghai shut several poultry markets and culled birds.
EasyJet lost 6.4 percent to 1,027 pence, even as Europe’s second-largest discount carrier said it narrowed its first-half loss as cold weather in much of Western Europe spurred a rush of late bookings for the Easter holiday.
The pretax loss for the six months ended March 31 was in the range of 60 million pounds ($91 million) to 65 million pounds. The year-earlier loss was 112 million pounds.
Perform Group Plc slipped 3.2 percent to 460 pence. Hans Thomas Gross is selling a 5.4 percent stake in the online sports broadcaster, according to terms obtained by Bloomberg.
Ladbrokes Plc sank 7 percent to 207.5 pence. Deutsche Bank AG cut its recommendation on the U.K. gambling operator to hold from buy.
ENRC, Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer, added 3.4 percent to 243.1 pence after tumbling 27 percent in March. UBS and Liberum both raised their recommendations on the shares to buy. Recent declines have been overdone and risks are priced in, Liberum analysts wrote in a note. UBS said there are early signs of progress on restructuring.
Punch Taverns Plc gained 3.5 percent to 11 pence after saying that it’s on track to meet its full-year profit forecast and, while restructuring talks are continuing, it expects the process to begin in the first half of this year.
The number of shares changing hands in the FTSE 100 was 8.5 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.