U.K. stocks gained, extending the the FTSE 100 Index (UKX)’s first weekly advance in a month, as retail sales rose at the fastest pace in more than a year and mining companies rallied with copper.
Kazakhmys Plc (KAZ) and Vedanta Resources Plc (VED) both gained more than 2 percent as copper rose in London amid declining stockpiles in China. Man Group (EMG) Plc rebounded from a 12-year low as Bank of America Corp. recommended the hedge-fund manager. Severn Trent Plc advanced for a fifth day.
The FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 5,772.15 at the close in London, extending its advance this week to 2.1 percent. The gauge earlier today swung between gains and losses at least 14 times as index futures and equity options expired in Europe. The FTSE All-Share Index (ASX) rose 0.4 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 0.7 percent.
“Economic data from the U.K. and Europe provided a glimmer of hope for investors,” said Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads in London. “As we’ve seen in the past these rallies don’t always last that long and we could quickly see the the gains snuffed out if the situation in the euro zone gets out of hand.”
The FTSE 100 posted its first weekly advance since March 16 as demand increased at a Spanish debt sale and the International Monetary Fund increased its prediction for global growth. The gauge has still fallen 3.2 percent since that date amid renewed concern that euro-area policy makers have yet to contain the sovereign-debt crisis.
U.K. Retail Sales
The Office for National Statistics said today that U.K. retail sales including gasoline gained 1.8 percent from February as the warmest March for half a century boosted purchases of clothing. The median economist forecast had called for a 0.5 percent increase.
Bank of England policy maker Adam Posen yesterday told reporters in Edinburgh that the British economy was “stronger” than official data will show in the first half of the year. A release today showed that German business confidence unexpectedly rose to a nine-month high in April.
Kazakhmys led a rally in mining companies, climbing 2.4 percent to 889.5 pence. Vedanta Resources added 3.1 percent to 1,237 pence and Xstrata Plc (XTA) rose 2.4 percent to 1,167.5 pence.
Copper climbed in London and New York as stockpiles in Shanghai fell the most in four months and those tracked by the London Metal Exchange slid for a second week. Lead, nickel, tin and zinc also advanced on the LME today.
Man, Severn Trent
Man Group rose 2.5 percent to 95.7 pence, rebounding from its lowest price since October 2000. The shares have still plunged 13 percent this week and 24 percent this year, the worst-performing stock on the FTSE 100, as assets at the firm’s flagship AHL Diversified fund slipped further last week.
Bank of America’s Philip Middleton reiterated his buy recommendation, saying the shares were “extremely undervalued,” assuming that AHL reverts to trend.
Severn Trent climbed 3.7 percent to 1,720 pence for its fifth day of gains as the Daily Telegraph cited “vague bid speculation” in its markets report.
Analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote on April 11 that private-equity bid speculation reported in the Daily Mail was “unlikely.” They named Pennon Group Plc as a “more interesting bet.”
William Hill Rallies
William Hill Plc (WMH) increased 4.3 percent to 278.3 pence, its highest price since May 2008 as first-quarter net revenue jumped 12 percent from a year earlier. Oriel Securities Ltd. raised its recommendation for the bookmaker to hold from reduce.
BP Plc (BP/), Europe’s second-largest oil company, paced declining shares, falling 1.2 percent to 434.85 pence for its third day of losses.
The company’s TNK-BP venture faces potential damage claims from Russia’s environmental watchdog. Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said yesterday that the business has polluted the Ob and Yenisei river basins in Siberia.
“TNK-BP has denied the allegations, but this is one to watch closely in case it signifies an increase in the political pressure,” Canaccord wrote in an e-mail to clients. “The issue of Russian risk in BP’s shares has gone quiet in recent months, but if it resurges it could affect sentiment towards BP.”
Weir Group, SuperGroup
Gardner Denver predicted that shipments of pressure pumps will drop in the second half of 2012 and estimated full-year adjusted earnings per share of $5.60 to $5.80, lower than its earlier forecast of $6 to $6.20.
SuperGroup Plc (SGP) sank 38 percent to 351.8 pence after the owner of the Superdry brand lowered profit guidance for the third time in about six months.
The company predicted pretax profit for the year ending April 29 of 43 million pounds ($69 million), less than the 50.7 million-pound average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
In Ireland, Independent News & Media Plc (INM) jumped 7.8 percent to 26.2 euro cents, extending the stock’s gain this week to 14 percent after Gavin O’Reilly yesterday stepped down as chief executive officer.
O’Reilly said in a statement that “shareholder tensions were proving an unnecessary distraction.” Billionaire Denis O’Brien, the company’s largest shareholder, called for O’Reilly to step down last November.
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