U.K. Stocks Drop as Russia Reinforces Troops Near Ukraine

U.K. stocks fell to their lowest level in more than three months amid mounting concern over the Ukraine crisis as Russia reinforced its troops along its border.

Shire Plc, Smith & Nephew Plc and AstraZeneca Plc each retreated more than 3.5 percent as a gauge of health-care companies declined. Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc fell as a report showed U.K. shop prices dropped. Vodafone Group Plc added 1.1 percent, snapping five days of losses.

The FTSE 100 Index slid 46.32 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,636.16 at the close in London, the lowest level since April 17. The broader FTSE All-Share Index dropped 0.7 percent today, and Ireland’s ISEQ Index fell 0.6 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100 companies was 32 percent greater than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. BP Plc, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Barclays Plc and six other FTSE 100 companies trade without the right to the latest dividend payment today, removing 14.2 points from the index.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said that Russia has built up about 20,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. Russia’s armed forces are closer to the border than they were in the spring, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told TVN24 BiS television yesterday that Russia has amassed more than a dozen battalion-sized combat groups along the Ukrainian border.

Health-Care Stocks

A gauge of health-care stocks in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 1.6 percent, the most since April. The U.S. Treasury Department said yesterday it is examining unilateral actions to curb corporate inversions, reversing its position that only Congress has the authority to slow or stop deals. In an inversion, a company moves its legal address outside the U.S. to lower its tax bill, typically by buying a smaller company.

Shire, which AbbVie Inc. agreed to buy last month for $55 billion, slid 4 percent to 4,680 pence. Smith & Nephew, a maker of knee replacements that has been a takeover target for a decade, dropped 4.1 percent to 1,020 pence. AstraZeneca, the London-listed drugmaker that rejected an offer from Pfizer Inc. in May, retreated 3.6 percent to 4,190 pence.

Tesco, the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain, lost 2.2 percent to 245.6 pence. Sainsbury, the third biggest, declined 1.2 percent to 303.5 pence. The British Retail Consortium said the nation’s store prices fell an annual 1.9 percent, the most since the series began in 2006.

Vodafone advanced 1.1 percent to 197.9 pence. The stock declined 3.5 percent in the past five trading days, completing its longest losing streak since June.

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