U.K. stocks advanced for the first time in four days as Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc followed health-care stocks higher and investors awaited data on U.S. manufacturing.
Reckitt rose 3.2 percent on speculation that the company might be a “logical buyer” of Merck & Co.’s consumer-health unit. Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) gained 2.9 percent after the gold miner said output rose 15 percent last year. Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) jumped the most in eight months after reporting quarterly results. Aberdeen Asset Management Plc fell amid concern emerging-market asset prices will decline. Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY) lost 2.6 percent after setting aside 1.8 billion pounds ($3 billion) more to compensate clients wrongly sold insurance and signaled it won’t pay a dividend for 2013.
The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) gained 22.88 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,533.32 at 1:08 p.m. in London. The gauge tumbled 3.5 percent last month as signs of a slowdown in China’s economy and cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus roiled emerging markets. The broader FTSE All-Share Index added 0.3 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index climbed 1.2 percent.
U.S. data at 10 a.m. New York time will probably show manufacturing grew at a slower pace last month, according to the median economist projection compiled by Bloomberg. A Labor Department report on Feb. 7 may show the world’s largest economy added 180,000 jobs in January, versus 74,000 in December.
U.K. data showed that a purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing slipped to 56.7 in January from a revised 57.2 in December. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a reading of 57.3.
In China, a manufacturing gauge showed output slowed in January to its lowest level in six months. The purchasing managers’ index fell to 50.5 from 51, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Feb. 1. Numbers above 50 indicate activity increased. A separate report today showed output from services industries in the world’s second-largest economy also slowed last month.
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