U.K. stocks advanced for a fifth day, capping their biggest weekly gain in more than two months, as hiring in the U.S. increased more than estimated and as Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) surged on earnings.
RBS rallied the most since January 2012 as lower loan impairments helped triple first-quarter profit. InterContinental Hotels Group Plc advanced to a record after reporting per-room revenue that beat analysts’ estimates and announcing a special dividend.
The FTSE 100 climbed 13.55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,822.42 at the close, for its highest price since March 4. The benchmark gauge gained for the third week amid a flurry of mergers and acquisitions. The FTSE All-Share Index rose 0.3 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.5 percent.
“The good news is the economy -- globally and especially in the U.K. -- continues to move forward with positive momentum,” Gerard Lane, a strategist at Shore Capital Group Ltd. in Liverpool, England, said.
American employers boosted payrolls in April by the most in two years and the jobless rate plunged to 6.3 percent, data showed. The 288,000 gain in employment was the biggest since January 2012 and followed a revised 203,000 increase in the previous month, Labor Department figures showed. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 218,000 advance.
The Federal Reserve, which announced the fourth straight $10 billion cut to its monthly bond-buying April 30, says the job market in the world’s largest economy is improving.
RBS advanced 8.2 percent to 331.7 pence. First-quarter net-income at Britain’s largest state-owned lender rose to 1.2 billion pounds ($2 billion) from 393 million pounds a year earlier. Impairments for bad loans shrank to 362 million pounds from 1.03 billion pounds, helped by its Ulster Bank and U.K. corporate units, RBS said in a statement.
InterContinental Hotels climbed 8.2 percent to 2,190 pence. First-quarter revenue per available room increased 6 percent, topping analysts’ predictions for an increase of 4.8 percent. The owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands will also distribute $750 million to shareholders after selling two U.S. hotels in March.
Taylor Wimpey Plc rose 3.1 percent to 108.6 pence, while Redrow Plc advanced 4.7 percent to 305 pence. Both homebuilders were raised to buy at Citigroup Inc., which cited an improved outlook for valuations.
Rexam Plc slipped 1.2 percent to 504 pence. Sales volumes of standard and specialty cans in Western Europe had a quiet start to year, the company said in a statement.
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