U.K. Stocks Rise, Extending Weekly Gain; Centamin Egypt Climbs

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks rose, erasing earlier losses, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak agreed to step down and U.S. consumer confidence increased to the highest level in eight months.

Centamin Egypt Ltd., a gold company operating in the North African nation, rallied 6.4 percent. International Power Plc climbed 3.4 percent after being upgraded by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services. Ocado Group Plc had a record 11 percent drop as John Lewis Partnership Plc’s pension fund sold its entire shareholding in the online grocer.

The benchmark FTSE 100 gained 42.89, or 0.7 percent, to 6,062.9 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London, having earlier fallen as much as 0.8 percent. The gauge has advanced 1.1 percent this week, extending its rally since March 2009 to 73 percent. The FTSE All-Share Index also climbed 0.7 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index advanced 1.4 percent.

“As the session has progressed the London index has ground its way back into the black,” Ben Critchley, a sales trader at London-based IG Index, wrote in e-mailed comments. “The marginally better-than-expected Michigan sentiment number from the U.S. has galvanized confidence.”

Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt today and handed power to the military, bowing to the demands of protesters that have occupied central Cairo for the past three weeks demanding an end to his 30-year rule. His resignation bolstered investor optimism that the nation’s political crisis won’t hurt the global economic recovery.

Centamin Egypt climbed 6.4 percent to 149 pence for the biggest gain in the FTSE 350 Index.

U.S. Consumer Confidence

In the U.S., the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment for February climbed to 75.1 from 74.2 last month, in a sign falling unemployment and rising stock prices may be comforting households. Economists had projected the gauge would rise to 75, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

International Power increased 3.4 percent to 339.4 pence. The power generating company had its long-term corporate credit rating raised to BBB- from BB at S&P, with a stable outlook.

Lonmin Plc advanced 3.8 percent to 1,845 pence and Anglo American Plc rose 3.4 percent to 3,421.5 pence as basic-resources companies had the second-biggest gain among 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Legal & General Group Plc climbed 3.3 percent to 122.7 pence as Nomura Holdings Inc. said it prefers the insurance company to Prudential Plc.

Guinness Peat Gains

Guinness Peat Group surged 8.7 percent to 37.5 pence, the biggest gain since June. The owner of the world’s largest thread maker is planning to sell most of its investments and return the proceeds to shareholders. The assets are valued at about 610 million pounds ($977 million), the company said.

Ocado plunged 11 percent to 255 pence, the biggest drop since its initial share sale last July, after John Lewis’s pension plan sold its entire stake in the company for 265 pence a share. The fund had 57.3 million Ocado shares, or a 10.4 percent holding, according to Bloomberg data.

Regal Petroleum Plc lost 2.7 percent to 36.25 pence as Geo-Alliance Oil-Gas Public Ltd. and Heamoor Ltd. said they don’t plan to make a takeover offer for the oil and gas producer.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Jordan in London at jjordan22@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net