U.K. Stocks Gain as U.S. Hiring Climbs; Admiral Rallies

U.K. stocks gained for the first time in four days, with the FTSE 100 Index rebounding from the biggest drop this year, as a report showed U.S. companies added more jobs last month.

Admiral Group Plc rallied the most since 2008 as the U.K.’s second-biggest motor insurer said earnings increased and bodily-injury claims declined. Cobham Plc jumped 13 percent, the largest increase on record, as the designer of equipment for the aerospace industry reported net income that surpassed the average analyst estimate.

The FTSE 100 advanced 25.61, or 0.4 percent, to 5,791.41 at the close in London, rebounding from yesterday’s 1.9 percent slide. The gauge has rallied 3.9 percent this year as the European Central Bank lent more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for three years to the region’s banks to ease liquidity. The broader FTSE All-Share Index gained 0.6 percent today and Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.8 percent.

“Even now there are some optimists to be found in global markets, as the bulls poke their heads nervously above the parapet,” said Ben Critchley, a sales trader at IG Markets in London. “The ADP number is the starting gun for non-farm payrolls speculation, which will only intensify over the coming days, and might help to prevent further serious losses for markets for the time being.”

U.S. Economy

U.S. companies added 216,000 jobs in February, according to data today from Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Employer Services. The release comes two days before the U.S. government’s jobs report on March 9, which is forecast to show that employers added 210,000 people to payrolls last month.

British American Tobacco Plc, TUI Travel Plc and CRH Plc are among London-listed stocks that are trading today without the right to their latest dividend, according to Bloomberg data.

Investors with 58 percent of the Greek bonds eligible for the nation’s debt swap have so far indicated they’ll participate as tomorrow’s deadline approaches.

Greece’s largest banks, most of the country’s pension funds, and more than 30 European banks and insurers including BNP Paribas SA, Commerzbank AG and Assicurazioni Generali SpA have pledged to accept the offer. That brings the total so far to at least 120 billion euros ($157 billion), based on data compiled by Bloomberg from company reports and government statements.

The goal of the swap is to reduce by 53.5 percent the total of privately held Greek sovereign debt, helping the country avert an uncontrolled default.

Admiral Advances

Admiral soared 10 percent to 1,144 pence, the largest gain since October 2008. Full-year net income rose to 221.3 million pounds ($348 million) from 193.6 million pounds a year earlier, the Cardiff, Wales-based firm said in a statement today.

Cobham jumped 13 percent to 209.7 pence, the biggest increase on record. The company reported full-year net income of 187.9 million pounds, surpassing the average estimate of 145.3 million pounds in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc surged 7.5 percent to 33.55 pence as the Financial Times reported that Vodafone Group Plc is “edging towards” making an indicative offer for the company, citing two unnamed people with knowledge of the process. Vodafone may still withdraw and is deliberating over the price, the report said.

Faroe Petroleum Plc lost 5 percent to 156.5 pence as the Aberdeen, Scotland-based oil explorer said wells at the T-Rex and Bolan prospects in the Norwegian Sea failed to find commercial quantities of oil.

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