AstraZeneca knocked confidence in the UK stockmarket by the end of Wednesday's trading after the Dut...
AstraZeneca knocked confidence in the UK stockmarket by the end of Wednesday's trading after the Dutch antitrust regulator said the pharmaceutical firm has violated Dutch competition rules, alongside news of more accounting irregularities in the US.
The FTSE 100 retreated for a third day and dropped another 2.1% to 4448.1 points as the usual suspects - AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone and Shell Transport & Trading - accounted for about half the slide.
AstraZeneca lost 186p or 7% to £24.60 after the Dutch antitrust regulator said the firm violated Dutch competition rules by supplying hospitals at a discount on the condition they wouldn't resell the cheaper medicines to individuals or pharmacies.
Even strong gains at Abbey National of 53p or 6.7% to 848p failed to keep the FTSE up, when suggestions of an Abbey merger with National Australia Bank hit the market.
SABMiller didn't help as the world's second-largest beermaker declared it's selling shares worth about £700m to raise money for more takeovers. Shares dropped 32.5p or 6.1% to 497.5p.
Kensington Group managed to increase its value by 10p or 5.2% to 202.5p as the sub-prime specialist mortgage lender said first-half profit rose 37% as new business reached record levels and it lost less than it expected on loans. Net income jumped to £10m in the six months ended May 31, from £7.3m in the year-earlier period.
Man Group, the UK's biggest hedge fund company increased its share value by 44p or 4% to 1,134p after announcing it has raised around $1bn for new funds during the second quarter. The London-based company's fund-raising included $140 million for Man AP Strategic Series 2 Ltd. and $110 million for OM-IP 220 Limited Series 7.
Fresh allegations of accounting errors and fraud have emerged in the US stocks after Qwest Communications International said it is being probed by US prosecutors.
Analysts now say there is a complete loss of confidence on the part of the investors, and further claims of fraud are likely to damage the US market for several months.
News of risks to hormone replacement therapy also damaged US pharmaceutical stocks, led by Pfizer and Royal Dutch Petroleum, as Royal Dutch will now lose its place in the Standard & Poor's index.
The S&P 500 slid 17.01 points or 1.8% to 935.82 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 125.51 points or 1.4% to 8970.58 and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 13.62 points or 1% to 1367.50.
Qwest, the US telecoms company, plunged 96 cents or 37% to $1.64 after declaring the district attorney's office in Denver has begun a criminal investigation of the company. The subject wasn't disclosed but Qwest now joins a list of companies, including WorldCom, Xerox Corp. and Adelphia Communications, which are being examined by federal regulators or prosecutors.
The Denver-based phone company's statement comes a day after President George W. Bush said he would increase penalties for executives convicted of fraud.
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