U.K. stocks declined the most in three weeks as Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said a third round of bond buying may not boost growth or hiring and concern over Europe’s debt crisis deepened.
Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. led mining companies lower as copper fell. Barclays Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc lost more than 3 percent. ICAP Plc retreated 4 percent after forecasting a revenue decline. Shanks Group Plc slid the most in 2 1/2 years after the waste-management company said earnings will miss estimates. Domino’s Pizza Group Plc tumbled the most in six months as Numis Corp. downgraded the shares.
The FTSE 100 Index sank 75.7 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,784.01 at 2:12 p.m. in London, the largest drop since Sept. 4. The benchmark gauge has still rallied 9.7 percent from this year’s low on June 1 as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to protect the euro and the Fed unveiled further quantitative easing. The FTSE All-Share Index also fell 1.3 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index lost 0.9 percent.
“The FTSE 100 has been knocked back sharply as investors take fright from some unexpected Fed comments,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG in London. “Unease has been apparent in global markets for a few days now, as indices struggle to make upward progress despite having the backing of global central banks. Investors don’t like to see the QE rescue plan questioned.”
Plosser said after U.K. markets closed yesterday that a new round of bond buying announced by the Fed this month will probably fail to boost growth and hiring and may jeopardize the central bank’s credibility. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted its biggest drop in three months.
The Fed said Sept. 13 that it will buy mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month until the labor market improves. Policy makers have turned to unconventional tools to attack unemployment that has stayed above 8 percent since February 2009.
In Spain, yields on 10-year government bonds climbed to more than 6 percent as unions and protest groups demanded a referendum on austerity measures proposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Thousands of protesters gathered around the Parliament in Madrid late yesterday to oppose spending cuts and tax increases.
Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro will unveil the 2013 budget tomorrow and Economy Minister Luis de Guindos will present additional measures required by the European Commission as part of efforts to bring down Spain’s borrowing costs.
Public- and private-sector workers in Greece are holding a 24-hour general strike today.