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U.K. Stocks Climb; Vedanta Shares Gain as AstraZeneca Declines

U.K. stocks climbed as Greek lawmakers met to debate austerity measures that the European Union has made a condition of providing further aid to the indebted country.

Vedanta Resources Plc advanced 3.1 percent after HSBC Holdings Plc advised buying the shares. AstraZeneca Plc fell 1.1 percent as the company and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said patients taking their experimental diabetes pill had more breast and bladder cancers than people using a standard drug.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose 24.62, or 0.4 percent, to 5,722.34 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London. Since its peak this year on Feb. 8, the gauge has tumbled 6.1 percent as U.S. economic data trailed forecasts and concern mounted that Greece will default on its debt.

“Our strategy remains constructive towards risk assets,” David Shairp, a London-based global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, which manages $1.3 trillion for clients, wrote in a report today. “The bad news is increasingly well known” about Greece.

U.K. stocks dropped last week, the gauge’s fifth straight week of losses, as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke cut his growth forecast for the world’s largest economy. The FTSE All-Share Index today rose 0.4 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index climbed 0.4 percent.

Greece Austerity Package

Greek lawmakers will vote on a five-year austerity plan this week that must pass before the EU and the International Monetary Fund will agree to provide more international aid. Failure to pass the plan may lead to the euro area’s first sovereign default as Greece needs to cover 6.6 billion euros ($9.4 billion) of maturing bonds in August. Greece’s Parliament today opened a debate today where lawmakers will vote on whether to accept the government’s 78 billion-euro medium-term fiscal plan.

Vedanta gained 3.1 percent to 1,905 pence. HSBC upgraded the shares to “overweight” from “neutral.”

AstraZeneca lost 1.1 percent to 3,026 pence. The two drugmakers found nine breast cancers and nine bladder cancers among the 5,478 patients taking their drug, dapagliflozin, compared with one breast and one bladder cancer among the 3,156 people in control groups.

BG, Northumbrian Water

BG Group Plc rose 2.2 percent to 1,303.5 pence after signing a deal with Bank of China, giving the company as much as $1.5 billion of new funding options to expand projects. The deal increased BG’s total borrowing facilities to $4.4 billion, the company said.

Northumbrian Water Group Plc jumped 8 percent to 413.5 pence after Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. said it may make a cash offer for the supplier of water to the north east of England.

Ocado Group Plc slumped 9.1 percent to 170 pence, its lowest price this year, even after posting a pretax profit in its fiscal first half of the year. Shore Capital Group Ltd. downgraded its earning forecast for Ocado, with analyst Clive Black remaining “cautious” on the shares with a “sell” recommendation.

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