U.K. Stocks Rise to a Three-Week High as RSA Advances

U.K. stocks climbed to their highest level in three weeks after a report showed asking prices for British homes rose this month.

RSA Insurance Group Plc (RSA) advanced 3.3 percent after a report that it may sell a business in Canada. Randgold (RRS) Resources Ltd. added 2.3 percent after Citigroup Inc. raised its recommendation on the commodity producer.

The FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 70.09 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,733.71 at 12:01 p.m. in London. The index advanced 1.4 percent last week as comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen fueled optimism the U.S. economy can withstand reduced monthly bond purchases. The FTSE All-Share Index gained 1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index climbed 0.9 percent. U.S. markets are closed today for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

“We’re seeing low volumes, clearly related to the U.S. markets being closed today,” said Pierre Mouton, who helps oversee $6 billion at Notz, Stucki & Cie. in Geneva. “U.K. stocks will be good this year because the U.K. economy is recovering. The central bank still has loose monetary policy.”

The number of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 5.8 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

House Prices

Asking prices for U.K. properties rose 6.9 percent this month from a year earlier, the biggest annual jump since November 2007, a report by Rightmove Plc showed today. Prices rose 3.3 percent from January, according to Britain’s biggest property-listing website.

RSA climbed 3.3 percent to 99 pence. The insurance company has started an auction of Noraxis Capital Corp., a network of insurance brokers in Canada, Sky News reported yesterday without saying where it got the information. The sale could raise as much as 200 million pounds ($335 million).

Randgold advanced 2.3 percent to 4,883 pence after Citigroup raised its rating on the gold producer to neutral from sell. The brokerage cited the potential for higher earnings.

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) gained 1.6 percent to 222 pence for the largest contribution to the FTSE 100’s advance. Europe’s biggest mobile-phone operator dropped 1.6 percent last week as it spent 1.9 billion pounds at an auction of wireless spectrum in India.

Essar Energy Plc added 3 percent to 68 pence after saying it has formed an independent committee to consider a takeover proposal by Essar Global Fund Ltd. The Indian oil and gas company said in a statement that EGFL, which owns 78 percent of Essar Energy (ESSR), may offer 70 pence a share for the stock it doesn’t already own and 80 cents apiece for convertible bonds. Essar Energy, which closed at 60 pence a share on Feb. 13, has since jumped 13 percent, its biggest two-day gain since September 2012.

Hammerson Advances

Hammerson Plc (HMSO) gained 4.3 percent to 567 pence after reporting that pretax profit jumped to 341.2 million pounds in 2013 from 142.2 million pounds in 2012. Adjusted net asset value rose 5.7 percent to 573 pence on Dec. 31, Britain’s third-biggest real-estate company by market value said in a statement.

Capital Lease Aviation Plc (CLA) slid 8.4 percent to 15 pence, its biggest drop since May 2010, after saying first-half earnings fell to 1.26 cents per share, from 2.09 cents a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Namitha Jagadeesh in London at njagadeesh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net

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