U.K. Stocks Drop; Petrofac Slumps, Marks & Spencer Climbs

U.K. stocks fell from their highest level since February, with Petrofac Ltd. leading the slump.

The oil-and-gas engineer plunged the most since November after forecasting 2014 earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. IAG SA lost 4.8 percent. Marks & Spencer Group Plc climbed 2 percent for the biggest increase in the FTSE 100 Index.

The FTSE 100 lost 24.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,814.57 at the close of trading in London. The benchmark gauge has slipped 0.1 percent this week following three straight weekly gains amid a boom in mergers-and-acquisitions activity. It climbed 0.6 percent yesterday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers are prepared to take action in June. The FTSE All-Share Index fell 0.4 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index dropped 0.9 percent.

“Earnings at the moment are absolutely crucial for equity-market performance,” Daniel McCormack, a strategist at Macquarie Securities Ltd. in London, said by phone. “The market was also up quite strongly yesterday on that ECB press conference, so it’s possible people have cooled their heels today and took a bit of profit.”

The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 20 percent lower than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Petrofac Falls

Petrofac sank 15 percent to 1,177 pence. The company forecast profit for the year of $580 million to $600 million, lower than the $667.3 million average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, the parent of British Airways, lost 4.8 percent to 385 pence after earlier gaining as much as 2.4 percent. Europe’s third-largest airline reported a first-quarter operating loss of 150 million euros ($208 million) before one-time items. Analysts had predicted a 168 million-euro quarterly loss.

AstraZeneca Plc fell 2.4 percent to 4,600.5 pence. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell said they fear Pfizer Inc.’s potential purchase of AstraZeneca will lead to job cuts in their states. The politicians sent their concerns in a letter to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Ian Read.

Tullett Prebon Plc dropped 5.9 percent to 297.2 pence. The company agreed to buy oil broker PVM Oil Associates Ltd. for $160 million and said it will cut jobs.

Marks & Spencer rose 2 percent to 458.4 pence after the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer advanced 2.9 percent yesterday, posting its biggest two-day jump since January. Debenhams Plc, the nation’s second-largest department store chain, climbed 2 percent to 81.6 pence, extending yesterday’s 1.5 percent gain.

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