U.K. (SXXP) stocks declined, with the FTSE 100 (UKX) Index posting its fourth straight weekly loss, after China’s growth slowed more than forecast last quarter.
British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc fell 2.3 percent after a report News Corp. will face civil lawsuits in the U.S. over phone-hacking claims. Sage (SGE) Group Plc lost 2.6 percent after Jefferies Group Inc. recommended clients hold the stock rather than buying more.
The FTSE 100 fell 58.67, or 1 percent, to 5,651.79 at the close in London, extending this week’s drop to 1.3 percent. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also declined 1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index slid 0.5 percent.
“Markets still remain fragile and vulnerable,” said Markus Huber, an equity-sales trader at ETX Capital in London. “Growth data out of China was slightly disappointing.”
The FTSE 100 advanced 1.3 percent yesterday after the Federal Reserve said the world’s biggest economy maintained its expansion in all 12 of the central bank’s regions.
China’s economy, the world’s second biggest, slowed last quarter more than forecast to the weakest pace in almost three years. Gross domestic product rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing said today. That was less than the 8.4 percent growth predicted in a Bloomberg News survey. Analysts at Bank of America Corp., Nomura Holdings Inc. and IHS Global Insight said the first quarter may mark a trough.
ECB Bond Purchases
The European Central Bank will restart its controversial government bond purchases rather than offer banks another round of unlimited three-year loans as the sovereign-debt crisis worsens, a survey of economists shows.
Of 22 economists polled this week, 17 predicted that the ECB will resume the Securities Markets Program (ECBCSMP), while only one forecast it will offer another batch of three-year cash. Nine said the central bank may consider shorter maturity loans of one or two years.
Copper declined on the London Metal Exchange as China’s GDP release raised concern about demand the metal.
BSkyB slipped 2.3 percent to 647 pence after the Financial Times reported that British lawyer Mark Davies said he will file three civil lawsuits against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in U.S. courts on behalf of alleged victims of phone hacking. The FBI and the Department of Justice are probing the company, which owns 39 percent of BSkyB. (BSY)
Sage fell 2.6 percent to 287.7 pence after Jefferies recommended clients against expanding their holdings of the U.K.’s largest software maker. Indian competitor Infosys Ltd. forecast sales that missed analysts’ estimates.
Logica Plc (LOG), an Anglo-Dutch computer services provider, slipped 3.3 percent to 80.85 pence.
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