U.K. Stocks Advance, Led by National Grid; BHP Billiton Gains

U.K. stocks climbed for a second day after Group of Seven countries agreed to intervene in Japan’s foreign exchange market as the country battles to control a nuclear accident.

National Grid Plc (NG/) led utilities higher as Credit Suisse Group AG advised buying the industry’s shares. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) led gains among raw-material stocks. Berkeley Group Holdings Plc (BKG) rallied 3.6 percent as the U.K.’s second-largest homebuilder by market value said full-year profit will be at the high end of its expectations.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index climbed 31.85, or 0.6 percent, to 5,727.96 at 2:24 p.m. in London. The FTSE All-Share Index (ASX) rose 0.6 percent while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.2 percent.

Despite a two-day gain the FTSE 100 is still 5.8 percent lower than it was on Feb. 8 when it reached this year’s highest level as political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa sent oil prices surging and Japan battled to stop its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant from leaking radiation following the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The gauge has lost 1.7 percent this week.

“Buying the market in times of heightened risk aversion has tended to produce the largest payoff over the next 12 months,” said Graham Bishop, a European equity strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) in London.

Stocks across Europe extended gains as Libya said it is ceasing all military action and will start talks with the opposition, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said in a televised news conference carried by Al Arabiya TV.

National Grid

National Grid rose 3 percent to 569 pence as Credit Suisse upgraded energy utility shares to “small overweight” from “underweight.” Centrica Plc climbed 2.7 percent to 327 pence as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. added the shares to its “conviction” buy list.

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, advanced 1.6 percent to 2,318 pence. Rio Tinto rose 1.1 percent to 4,041.5 pence.

Berkeley Group climbed 3.6 percent to 1,040 pence.

Amec Plc (AMEC) gained 2.5 percent to 1,139 pence as Investec Plc rated the shares buy in new coverage.

Jupiter Fund Management Plc (JUP) sank 5.7 percent to 300.2 pence as the U.K. fund manager that held an initial public offering in June reported full-year earnings that missed some analysts’ estimates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Haigh in London at ahaigh1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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