U.K. Stocks Advance; Benchmark FTSE 100 Index Climbs 0.3%

U.K. stocks advanced, with the benchmark index heading for the highest level since January 2008, as shares of commodity producers and banks rallied.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 17.15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,444.79 at 1:15 p.m. in London. The benchmark gauge has rallied 9.3 percent so far this year and jumped to a five-year high this week on optimism central banks around the world will continue with stimulus measures. The broader FTSE All-Share Index gained 0.2 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.4 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the FTSE 100 was 46 percent greater than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of England today maintained their monetary-policy stance, signaling no expansion in economic stimulus.

ECB policy makers meeting in Frankfurt today kept the benchmark rate at a record low of 0.75 percent, as forecast by 56 of 61 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. President Mario Draghi holds a press conference at 2:30 p.m. in Frankfurt to explain the decision.

In London, BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee led by Governor Mervyn King maintained its target for quantitative easing at 375 billion pounds ($562 billion). The decision was forecast by 29 of 39 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, with the remainder having predicted an expansion of at least 25 billion pounds.

To contact the reporters on this story: Namitha Jagadeesh in London at njagadeesh@bloomberg.net; Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

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

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