U.K. stocks climbed, extending a third weekly gain, after the U.S. government revised up its estimate for job creation in February.
EasyJet Plc added 2 percent after saying it carried 4.8 percent more passengers in March than a year earlier. Pearson Plc (PSON) climbed 2.5 percent after Jefferies Group LLC recommended buying shares in the textbook publisher. Man Group Plc (EMG) rose 4.7 percent as HSBC Holdings Plc upgraded its rating on the stock. Tesco Plc (TSCO) fell to its lowest price since November 2008 after saying its finance chief will step down.
The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) advanced 46.41 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,695.55 at the close of trading in London. The benchmark gauge gained 1.2 percent this week. It dropped 3.1 percent in March. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also rose 0.7 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 1 percent.
“Today’s figures show that the recovery process in the U.S. is progressing,” Ralf Umlauf, head of floor research at Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen in Frankfurt, wrote in emailed comments. “It is pleasing that the employment rate remained stable. Our view is that the growth scenario in the U.S. is intact.”
U.S. payrolls rose 192,000 in March after a 197,000 gain in February that was larger than first estimated, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey had projected a 200,000 increase for last month. The unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.
EasyJet advanced 2 percent to 1,827 pence, the highest price since the discount carrier’s initial public offering in November 2000. The total number of passengers carried increased to 5.1 million last month, boosting EasyJet’s load factor, a measure of occupancy, to 91.5 percent from 90.5 percent.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, the parent of British Airways, added 1.5 percent to 442.9 pence.
Pearson climbed 2.5 percent to 1,033 pence. Jefferies raised its rating on the stock to buy from hold, with analyst David Reynolds citing signs of a pickup in U.S. primary- and secondary-education spending. Pearson’s North American Education Unit contributed more than half of revenue in 2013.
Man Group added 4.7 percent to 106.7 pence as HSBC upgraded the hedge-fund manager to overweight, similar to a buy recommendation, from underweight. The company is cutting costs faster than forecast, has reduced its reliance on high-margin guaranteed products, and a pickup in demand from retail investors is easing pressure on profitability, according to HSBC analyst Nitin Arora.
CRH Plc increased 4 percent to 1,775 pence in London trading, following a gauge of European construction companies higher after Lafarge SA and Holcim Ltd. said they were in merger discussions.
Tesco fell 1.5 percent to 287.4 pence. Chief Financial Officer Laurie McIlwee, who joined the grocer in 2000, will remain in the position for now “to ensure a smooth handover to his successor,” the largest British retailer said in a statement today. The Financial Times had earlier reported McIlwee may leave the supermarket chain before it posts its full-year earnings on April 16.
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