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U.K. Stocks Rebound From Two-Month Low; Antofagasta Gains

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks rose, extending the benchmark FTSE 100 Index’s largest first-quarter rally since 2010, as mining companies climbed with base metals and U.S. consumer spending data topped forecasts.

Kazakhmys Plc, Antofagasta Plc and Vedanta Resources Plc all gained at least 1.5 percent. CRH Plc, Petrofac Ltd. and EasyJet Plc also climbed as analysts recommended the shares. Shire Plc dropped 4.6 percent after a drug failed to meet the main goal of a clinical trail.

The FTSE 100 rose 26.42, or 0.5 percent, to 5,768.45 at the close in London, rebounding from a three-day drop, as euro-region finance ministers agreed to increase rescue funds. The gauge has advanced 3.5 percent this quarter as the European Central Bank lent 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to the region’s financial firms. The FTSE All-Share Index increased 0.5 percent today and Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.8 percent.

“The FTSE 100 has managed to post a half-decent gain for the first quarter,” said Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads in London. “Investors have warmed to the idea that increases to the European bailout funds could be enough to prevent Greece’s default from spreading to other economies and thus securing a robust recovery.”

Stocks climbed across Europe today as euro-area finance ministers at a meeting in Copenhagen capped fresh rescue lending at 500 billion euros, bringing the size of the firewall to 800 billion euros.

U.S. Economy

U.S. Commerce Department figures showed consumer purchases rose 0.8 percent last month. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.6 percent increase.

The FTSE 100 gained even as a separate report from GfK NOP Ltd. showed a gauge of U.K. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to minus 31 from minus 29 in February. The median economist estimate was for no change.

A gauge of mining companies jumped 1.3 percent, snapping a two-day decline as copper led base metals higher on the London Metal Exchange. Kazakhmys gained 1.7 percent to 908 pence, Antofagasta rallied 2.7 percent to 1,152 pence and Vedanta Resources Plc rose 1.5 percent to 1,228 pence.

Copper has advanced 11 percent so far this year, its best quarterly gain since the end of 2010, after rising demand pared global stockpiles.

CRH Upgrade

CRH rose 2 percent to 15.30 euros in Dublin, advancing for the first time in four days. Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the world’s second-biggest building-materials maker to outperform, the equivalent of buy, saying the stock is the “best play on the nascent recovery in the U.S.”

HSBC Holdings Plc wrote in a separate report that earnings in the building-materials industry have “turned the corner.”

Petrofac gained 5 percent to 1,740 pence, rebounding from three days of declines. Bank of America Corp. reiterated its buy recommendation on the U.K. oil and gas engineer and named the company its top pick in Europe’s oil services sector.

The shares extended gains after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. upgraded the shares to buy from neutral.

EasyJet gained 1.6 percent to 485.8 pence as Morgan Stanley reiterated its overweight recommendation and raised its price estimate for the shares by 9.8 percent to 560 pence. Europe’s second-largest discount airline this week forecast a narrower six-month loss.

Shire tumbled 4.6 percent to 2,020 pence, the biggest drop since May 2009, after its Lialda drug for ulcerative colitis failed in a trial that would have expanded its use and potentially reach sales of more than $2 billion.

Elsewhere, companies including Diploma Plc, Jupiter Fund Management Plc and Kentz Corp. Ltd. all jumped in the final two hours of trading.

Diploma rallied 7 percent to 450 pence, Jupiter advanced 7.8 percent to 248.9 pence and Kentz increased 8.2 percent to 490 pence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Jones in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at

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