U.K. Stocks Drop in Year’s First Trading Day; Ophir Falls

U.K. stocks dropped the most in two weeks in the first trading day of the year after a report showed manufacturing growth unexpectedly cooled in December.

Ophir Energy Plc slumped the most since August after saying it didn’t find hydrocarbons at a well in Tanzania. Aberdeen Asset Management Plc lost 2 percent. Randgold Resources Ltd. climbed 3.8 percent after gold jumped the most in three weeks. Debenhams Plc gained 3 percent following the resignation of its chief financial officer, two days after the retailer forecast a profit decline because of weak Christmas business.

The FTSE 100 Index lost 31.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,717.91 at the close of London trading. The benchmark index climbed 14 percent in 2013, its biggest annual rally since 2009. The FTSE All-Share Index fell 0.4 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index climbed 0.3 percent.

“The weaker manufacturing data isn’t going to help,” said Toby Morris, a London-based sales trader at CMC Markets Plc. “Almost everywhere in Europe at the moment is down.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.7 percent today.

A U.K. gauge of factory activity fell to 57.3 last month from a revised 58.1 in November, Markit Markit Economics said today. The median forecast of 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 58.4 reading. Another report confirmed that manufacturing in the euro area climbed to 52.7 in December.

Ophir Energy slumped 8.2 percent to 300.9 pence. Its Mlinzi Mbali-1 well in Block 7, Tanzania, didn’t find live hydrocarbons, the oil and gas explorer said in a statement.

Aberdeen Slips

Aberdeen fell 2 percent to 490 pence after the stock closed at a record on Dec. 31.

Randgold Resources gained 3.8 percent to 3,934 pence. Gold futures jumped the most in three weeks on speculation that demand for bars and jewelry will increase in Asia. Fresnillo Plc, which also mines precious metals, gained 1.3 percent to 755 pence. African Barrick Gold Plc increased 6.3 percent to 197.5 pence.

Debenhams rose 3 percent to 75.2 pence after the retailer said CFO Simon Herrick resigned. The stock tumbled 12 percent on Dec. 31 after the company said sales during the Christmas week missed its expectations.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc surged 6.3 percent to a record 1,277 pence. UBS AG upgraded the maker of generic drugs to buy from neutral, saying the company’s doxycycline medicine will send 2014 earnings higher than the average analyst estimate.

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