Most U.K. Stocks Fall as China Exports Slide; Bunzl Drops
Most U.K. stocks fell, halting the longest winning streak for the FTSE 100 Index since March, as a collapse in Chinese export growth added to concern the global economy is slowing.
Bunzl (BNZL) Plc dropped 4.6 percent as UBS AG recommended investors sell the shares. Flybe Group Plc (FLYB) led airlines lower, sinking 14 percent, after the regional carrier reduced its revenue forecast. Barclays Plc (BARC) paced advancing shares after the lender appointed a new chairman.
The benchmark FTSE 100 fell 4.4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,847.11 at the close in London, snapping five days of gains and paring the gauge’s advance this week to 1 percent. Of the gauge’s 101 members, 55 declined, while 40 gained. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also slipped 0.1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index rose 0.4 percent.
“Data from China overnight dented sentiment today and prompted a bout of profit taking,” said Ishaq Siddiqi, a London-based market strategist at ETX Capital. “Overall, trading has been subdued given the seasonally low volumes. Markets are stuck in a narrow trading range.”
The volume of shares changing hands on the FTSE 100 (UKX) was 29 percent lower today than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Chinese export growth plummeted in July, with outbound shipments up 1 percent from a year earlier, the customs bureau said. That compares with the 8 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey and 11.3 percent in June. Imports and new yuan loans also trailed forecasts.
Bunzl tumbled 4.6 percent to 1,113 pence after UBS downgraded the company to sell from neutral, citing a 32 percent advance in the shares this year through yesterday.
The “share price has historically been sensitive to its organic sales growth trend, which we expect to slow after peaking in the fourth quarter of 2011,” London-based Shang Liew wrote in a note to clients.
Flybe sank 14 percent to 64.5 pence after Europe’s biggest regional airline said full-year sales will grow no more than 2 percent, less than previously predicted, clipped by a sluggish European economy.
Flybe revised its outlook after demand for business flights from Britain to continental Europe showed “signs of weakness” in the first quarter, it said in a statement. After four years of declines, the U.K. domestic market showed evidence of stabilizing before slipping back into a 3 percent fall in June versus a year earlier.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, retreated 1.1 percent to 149.7 pence while EasyJet Plc (EZJ) declined 0.3 percent to 555.5 pence, paring losses of as much as 1.9 percent.
Barclays rallied 2.5 percent to 183.4 pence after the lender, which was fined a record amount for interest-rate manipulation, named former Bank of England executive director David Walker as chairman, its first move to replace leaders ousted in wake of the Libor scandal. He will start on Nov. 1, succeeding Marcus Agius.
Analysts at Bank of America Corp. said the appointment was positive for investors and paved the way for the bank to hire a new chief executive officer.
In Dublin, Bank of Ireland Plc tumbled 3.1 percent to 9.5 euro cents after the nation’s biggest lender more than doubled its pretax loss in the first half to 1.26 billion euros ($1.55 billion). Chief Executive Officer Richie Boucher said the Irish bank’s target of rebuilding net interest margins to over 200 basis points by the end of 2014 “looks very challenging” as central bank interest rates remain low.
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