By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch)—U.K. stocks slipped Friday, with shares of Shire PLC pushed lower after the pharmaceutical maker was criticized over tax avoidance and miners slumping on the back of weaker metals prices.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.01% lost 0.2% to close at 6,853.44, after briefly moving into positive territory after better-than-expected U.S. jobs data. The benchmark closed 1.5% on the week.
Shire shares were knocked down 0.9%. An influential committee of British lawmakers said accountancy firm PwC helped Shire engage in tax avoidance, via 10 billion pounds of intracompany loans the pharmaceutical company made to its business in Luxembourg.
“Neither PwC nor Shire could demonstrate that the company’s presence in Luxembourg was designed to do anything other than avoid tax,” the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee said in a statement. “We note that Shire paid tax of only 0.0156% on its profits to the Luxembourg tax authority.”
PwC in a statement said it disagree with the parliamentary committee’s conclusions but that “we recognize we need to do more to explain the positive role we play in the tax system and in helping businesses to operate successfully.”
Also slumping were shares of miners as metals prices dropped across the board. Randgold Resources Ltd. dropped 4.3%, Fresnillo PLC /zigman2/quotes/201300065/delayed UK:FRES -1.82% fell 4.1% and Anglo American PLC /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL -1.16% gave up 2.3%.
Barratt Developments PLC /zigman2/quotes/209812640/delayed UK:BDEV +1.13% was off 2.2% after Liberum Capital cut its rating on the home builder to hold from buy.
But GlaxoSmithKline PLC /zigman2/quotes/200381158/delayed UK:GSK -0.32% /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK +0.77% climbed 1.1% as the drug maker said a late-stage study of two treatments, dabrafenib and trametnib, significantly cut the risk of death in patients with melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
Also among advancers, Aberdeen Asset Management PLC was up 2.3% and Royal Mail PLC /zigman2/quotes/204213037/delayed UK:RMG +1.86% rose 1%.
On the FTSE 250 /zigman2/quotes/210598417/delayed UK:MCX +0.81% , shares of Poundland Group PLC surged 15%, topping the index after the discount retailer said it is reached a conditional agreement to purchase 99p Stores Ltd. for an enterprise value of 55 million pounds ($84.3 million).
Meanwhile, Tate & Lyle PLC /zigman2/quotes/205109332/delayed UK:TATE -0.13% shares slid 14% after the ingredients maker said it expects full-year profit to come in below its previous forecast. It said weak performance in its bulk-ingredients unit in the third quarter is likely to run through the fourth quarter.
In U.K. economic data released Friday, the country’s trade deficit widened to an all-time high in 2014 to 119.9 billion pounds ($182.7 billion) as exports fell at a faster rate than imports, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.7202% was buying $1.5251 compared with $1.5329 on Thursday.