U.K. Stocks Advance After LSE Trading Glitch; Spectris Surges

U.K. stocks advanced, trimming a weekly decline for the FTSE 100 Index, as London Stock Exchange Group Plc opened more than four hours late after a technical glitch halted trading.

Spectris Plc soared 12 percent after reporting pretax profit that beat analysts’ estimates. Rank Group Plc advanced 5.3 percent after operating profit rose. Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, tumbled as the bank said rising funding costs will squeeze profit margins in 2011.

The benchmark FTSE 100 climbed 1.4 percent to 6,001.2 in London. The gauge has still dropped 1.3 percent this week as the price of oil headed for its biggest weekly gain in two years. The FTSE All-Share Index advanced 1.4 percent today and Ireland’s ISEQ Index rose 1.1 percent.

“People may be looking for some bargains after the declines,” said Bill Ismail, a senior sales trader at City Index Ltd. in London. “I’m bullish. The oil price has come down since the start of the week. Around these levels, the market can move up.”

Crude oil for April delivery climbed 0.3 percent to $97.55 on the New York Mercantile Exchange today.

A “market data issue” halted dealing until 12:15 p.m. today, according to LSE.

LSE Technology

LSE moved its main market to the MillenniumIT trading platform on Feb. 14 after three months of delays. Turquoise, the first of the exchange’s markets to make the change, had glitches on its first day of trading in October and the next day was forced to postpone the market open. Today’s outage follows the Feb. 22 delay to the start of trading on the Italian stock exchange, which is owned by LSE and runs its old system. Borsa Italiana opened 6 1/2 hours late, two hours before the close.

Stocks advanced even after a report showed Britain’s economy shrank more than initially estimated in the fourth quarter, complicating the Bank of England’s task as policy makers split on whether to withdraw stimulus.

Gross domestic product fell 0.6 percent from the previous three months, compared with an initial estimate for a 0.5 percent drop, according to the Office for National Statistics. The statistics office said its “best estimate” for the impact of the cold winter on the economy remains 0.5 percent. The slump was led by construction and investment.

U.S. Growth

In the U.S., GDP also grew less than previously estimated, rising at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter compared with the 3.2 percent gain forecast last month.

Spectris jumped 12 percent to 1,401 pence. The U.K.’s biggest maker of production-testing gear reported pretax profit of 132.3 million pounds ($212.8 million), beating analysts’ estimates of 128 million pounds, following growth in emerging markets.

Rank advanced 5.3 percent to 131.6 pence. The U.K. entertainment and casino company posted operating profit of 75.4 million pounds in 2010, up from 60.8 million pounds the previous year, on revenue of 568 million pounds.

Lloyds slid 4.5 percent to 62.9 pence. Net interest margin, the difference between what the bank pays for funds and what it charges for loans, will be unchanged in 2011, Lloyds said in a statement today. The lender is replacing government support with costlier wholesale funding.

The following shares were also active in London. Stock symbols are in parentheses.

Berendsen Plc (BRSN LN) surged 7.8 percent to 485 pence. The company said full-year revenue rose to 986.1 million pounds from 970.9 million pounds for the same period a year earlier.

British American Tobacco Plc (BATS LN) gained 2.9 percent to 2,466.5 pence. Europe’s largest cigarette maker was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Standard & Poor’s, with a 12-month price estimate of 2,700 pence per share.

British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY LN), the U.K.’s biggest pay-TV company, advanced 4.1 percent to 786.5 pence. News Corp. is close to a resolution with U.K. regulators about its bid to acquire BSkyB, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the process that it did not name. The remedy is “structural” rather than “behavioral,” two of the people familiar told the newspaper.

Salamander Energy Plc (SMDR LN) jumped 2.1 percent to 305.9 pence. The company said it more than doubled its estimate of gross proved reserves at the Bualuang field in the Gulf of Thailand to 14.6 million barrels.

William Hill Plc (WMH LN) increased 4 percent to 190.9 pence. The U.K. bookmaker said net income rose 92 percent last year to 156 million pounds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adria Cimino in Paris at acimino1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net.

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