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U.K. Stocks Decline From 14-Year High as Ashmore Slumps

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Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks fell from their highest level in 14 years as a gauge of commodity producers declined and companies including Ashmore Group Plc posted disappointing financial results.

Rio Tinto Group slipped 2.8 percent, leading London-listed mining stocks lower, as iron ore and copper prices dropped. Ashmore slumped 6.5 percent after saying investors withdrew $2.9 billion from its funds in the final six months of 2013. GKN Plc lost 1 percent after saying sales at its land-systems unit may not improve this year. St James’s Place Plc rose to its highest price since at least 1991 after saying it will boost its dividend by as much as 40 percent in 2014.

The FTSE 100 Index retreated 35.36 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,830.5 at the close of trading in London, halting a seven-day winning streak that brought it to within 1 percent of its December 1999 record. The equity benchmark has gained 4.9 percent so far this month, on course for its largest monthly gain since July. The broader FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.4 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index jumped 1.6 percent.

“Nobody is rushing in to buy now,” Tim Rees, who helps oversee about 273 billion pounds ($456 billion) at Insight Investment Management Ltd., said by phone from London. “A lot of investors feel that the ratings are already quite demanding for smaller, domestic stocks exposed to the U.K. economy, while the large caps have clear currency headwinds and challenges to their strategies.”

U.S. Confidence

U.S. data today showed that a measure of confidence among consumers fell this month more than expected after reaching a four-month high in January. The Conference Board’s index slipped to 78.1 in February from a revised 79.4 in the previous month. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a reading of 80.

Rio Tinto lost 2.8 percent to 3,439 pence as iron ore slipped 0.7 percent, according to a price index compiled by The Steel Index Ltd. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, slid 1.6 percent to 1,928.5 pence, while Anglo American Plc retreated 2.2 percent to 1,500.5 pence. A gauge of London-listed mining stocks dropped the most in a month as copper declined on the London Metal Exchange.

Ashmore fell 6.5 percent to 317.8 pence. Assets under management decreased 2.7 percent to $75.3 billion in December from June as investors sought to avoid buying riskier securities in developing economies, the fund manager said in a statement. Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, which invests about two-thirds of assets in global emerging markets and stocks from the Asia-Pacific region, retreated 1.2 percent to 385.4 pence.

GKN Declines

GKN lost 1 percent to 410.7 pence. Negative currency effects, a weaker market for agricultural equipment in Europe and North America, and declining military aircraft sales will probably act as a drag on financial results for 2014, the company said.

St James’s Place climbed 5.1 percent to 835 pence, its biggest gain since July 2012. The insurer increased its full-year dividend by 50 percent to 15.96 pence a share, and said it plans to boost it by 30 percent to 40 percent in 2014.

CRH Plc jumped 6.2 percent to 1,788 pence, its highest price since April 2010, after the Irish builder said net debt climbed to 2.97 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in 2013 from the prior year’s restated 2.9 billion euros. That was less than the company’s Nov. 12 forecast for 3.2 billion euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sofia Horta e Costa in London at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net

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