U.K. stocks declined for the second time in three days as investors weighed the interest-rate outlook for Britain and the euro area.
Foxtons Group Plc dropped the most on record after the U.K. property broker’s chief executive officer stepped down less than nine months after its initial public offering. Wolseley Plc rose 1.6 percent after the distributor of plumbing and heating products forecast 4 percent growth in comparable sales in the next six months.
The FTSE 100 Index lost 27.8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,836.3 at the close of trading in London. The benchmark gauge has risen 6 percent from this year’s low on Feb. 4. The broader FTSE All-Share Index lost 0.5 percent today. Ireland’s ISEQ Index slipped less than 0.1 percent after being closed for a holiday yesterday.
“Investors are focusing on nothing but the central banks at the moment,” John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva, said. “They are waiting to see what their capabilities are to support economic growth, especially with the upcoming ECB meeting, where expectations are high for Draghi to act.”
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on May 8 that policy makers are prepared to ease monetary policy at their June meeting if economic forecasts warrant action. That meeting will take place on Thursday when officials will probably lower the euro area’s official rate and take the deposit rate negative for the first time, economists polled by Bloomberg say.
U.K. house prices rose to a record last month and recent indications of a slowdown in the market may prove short-lived, according to Nationwide Building Society. This and other signs of a strengthening economy has fueled speculation that policy makers at the Bank of England will begin debating higher interest rates.
In the U.S., a report showed that factory orders rose 0.7 percent in April, compared with the 0.5 percent increase economists had forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. That compares with a revised 1.5 percent increase the previous month.
The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 28 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Foxtons Group retreated 6.6 percent to 307.9 pence. Chief Executive Officer Michael Brown plans to quit the company for personal reasons. Chief Operating Officer Nic Budden will replace Brown on July 1. Foxtons sold shares to the public on Sept. 20.
Pennon Group Plc lost 3 percent to 760 pence. The U.K. water and waste company said pretax profit for its Viridor waste-management unit dropped as much as 20 percent to 27.6 million pounds partly due to lower prices for the recyclate it produces. The company’s full-year profit rose 9.1 percent to 207.3 million pounds, beating analyst estimates.
Severfield Plc slid 4 percent to 54.3 pence, the lowest price since July 15, after the engineering and construction company said it won’t pay a final dividend.
Wolseley climbed 1.6 percent to 3,363 pence. The company predicted 4 percent growth in comparable sales in the next six months after third-quarter revenue increased 5.1 percent to 3.05 billion pounds.