U.K. Stocks Retreat for Third Day; TUI Travel Declines as BG Group Gains
U.K. stocks fell for a third day, extending this month’s decline, as Egyptian anti-government protests entered a second week.
TUI Travel Plc slid 2.6 percent as the company canceled some of its holiday packages to Egypt. BG Group Plc surged to a 22-year high as Brent crude climbed above $100 per barrel.
The benchmark FTSE 100 lost 18.43, or 0.3 percent, to 5,862.94 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London, extending its decline in January to 0.6 percent. The gauge has rallied 67 percent since its low in March 2009 as the Bank of England purchased 200 billion pounds ($317 billion) of assets to spur the economy. The FTSE All-Share Index slipped 0.4 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index dropped 1.3 percent.
“Right now December’s rally seems to be a distant memory and market confidence is fragile,” Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG Index in London, said in e-mailed comments.
Egyptian protesters clashed with police in the most populous Arab country for a seventh day, calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The unrest in Egypt, which began Jan. 25, has left as many as 150 dead, Ibrahim al- Zafarani, head of the rescue and emergency committee at the Arab medical union, told Al Jazeera television.
Moody’s Investors Service cut Egypt’s government bond ratings to Ba2 from Ba1, with a negative outlook. Credit default swaps insuring Egyptian government debt have surged 82 percent since the start of 2011, leaving Egyptian debt more risky than that of Iraq.
Travel companies across Europe fell as investors speculated that the Egyptian protests would deter tourists from visiting the country. TUI Travel lost 2.6 percent to 253 pence and Thomas Cook Group Plc sank 3.1 percent to 190.6 pence as the travel firms’ German units allowed people who had booked trips to Egypt to change their destination for free.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, the airline created from the merger of British Airways Plc and Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA, retreated 1.8 percent to 256.4 pence.
BG Group gained 5 percent to 1,401 pence, the highest price since at least September 1988. Brent crude traded above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2008, on tightness in North Sea supplies and colder weather.
AssetCo Plc surged 20 percent to 62 pence. The U.K. supplier of equipment and training to the London Fire Brigade said that it has held talks with an unidentified company that may make an offer for the business. AssetCo refuted a Sunday Times report that JO Hambro Capital Ltd. will bid for the company.
James Halstead Plc gained 3 percent to 412.5 pence. The U.K. provider of flooring for Moscow’s Kremlin Conference Palace said sales in the six months to Dec. 31 increased about 14 percent from a year earlier.
Rexam Plc, the world’s biggest beverage-can maker, advanced 2.1 percent to 341.5 pence. The company said it completed customer contract negotiations at its Beverage Can North America division, securing medium-term contracts to recover by 2013 most of the volume loss expected in 2011.
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