Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks were little changed, following five weekly losses, after a report in China showed last month’s increase in imports missed estimates.
Fresnillo Plc and Kazakhmys Plc fell more than 2 percent. Aviva Plc gained 2.3 percent after Bank of America Corp. added the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer to its top European picks list. Kentz Corp. surged 13 percent to the highest price since its initial public offering in February 2008 after agreeing on a $435 million acquisition that will see it expand into shale and into Latin America.
The FTSE 100 Index added 7.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,559.48 at the close in London after falling as much as 0.3 percent earlier. The gauge retreated 1.5 percent last week. The broader FTSE All-Share Index climbed 0.2 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index advanced 0.4 percent.
“China does look like it has had some sort of drag effect on the FTSE,” Keith Bowman, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc in London, said in an interview. “If you look at miners they have hindered the market. China’s a very important market for the mining companies and if anything the miners are still very much seen as globally sensitive.”
Imports in China increased 5.3 percent last month, falling short of the median estimate of 7 percent, according to a release from the General Administration of Customs yesterday. The country’s trade surplus widened to $33.8 billion in November, the biggest gap since January 2009. Yesterday’s results also showed China’s exports rose 12.7 percent last month from a year earlier, exceeding projections from 41 of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The FTSE 100 has fallen 3.2 percent since reaching a five-month high on Oct. 30 as investors weighed U.S. economic reports for clues on when the Federal Reserve will reduce its stimulus. The number of shares changing hands today in FTSE 100-listed stocks was 18 percent below the average in the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Investors have accepted the withdrawal of monetary stimulus is coming but that does not necessarily bring a rise in interest rates closer,” Guy Foster, the London-based head of portfolio strategy at Brewin Dolphin Ltd., which oversees 28 billion pounds ($44.7 billion), said in an interview.
The Federal Open Market Committee will probably begin cutting stimulus at its Dec. 17-18 meeting, according to 34 percent of economists surveyed Dec. 6 by Bloomberg, an increase from 17 percent in a Nov. 8 survey.
Data last week showed U.S. employers added 203,000 workers to nonfarm payrolls in November, more than the 185,000 increase predicted in a Bloomberg survey of economists, while the jobless rate dropped to a five-year low of 7 percent.
Fresnillo lost 2 percent to 742 pence and Kazakhmys fell 2.1 percent to 213.3 pence. A gauge of mining companies on the FTSE 350 Index dropped as much as 1.6 percent. Randgold Resources Ltd. lost 1.5 percent to 3,977 pence.
Petrofac Ltd. slipped 1.7 percent to 1,174 pence after the oil and gas engineer was cut to neutral from buy by UBS AG, which said investors will need to see results from the company’s moves into offshore construction. Tullow Oil Plc slid 3.3 percent, the biggest decline since July 23, to 869.5 pence.
Aviva advanced 2.3 percent to 428.9 pence. The insurer will rise more than competitors next year as investors value the company’s turnaround and its management gains credibility, Bank of America said. The brokerage reiterated its buy recommendation and increased its price estimate to 550 pence from 475 pence.
Kentz surged 13 percent to 657.5 pence. Kentz agreed to buy the field-solutions unit of U.S.-based Valerus. The deal should bring in high margin contracts and expand Kentz’s operations into the U.S. onshore oil and gas market and Latin America, according to Liberum Capital Ltd.
Anite Plc jumped 5.8 percent to 91.8 pence. The software supplier said trading in the second half of the year will improve after it reported that first-half revenue fell 6 percent to 57.5 million pounds. The Berkshire-based company was raised to buy from hold at Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., which said the drivers of the handset-testing business remain, even after deferrals of orders hurt revenue.
Inmarsat Plc rallied 5.8 percent to 730.5 pence for the biggest gain in four months. The largest provider of maritime-satellite services confirmed the launch of its Global Xpress satellite was successful. The satellite will provide high-speed mobile data.
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