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U.K. Stocks Climb for a Third Day: Whitbread Gains

U.K. stocks advanced for a third day as Greece’s political parties continued talks to form a government and as the leaders of the Group of 20 countries debated the euro area’s debt crisis.

Whitbread Plc rallied 6.4 percent as first-quarter sales rose. Home Retail Group Plc surged 24 percent as it posted quarterly revenue that fell less than analysts had estimated. Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. led mining shares higher.

The FTSE 100 advanced 1.7 percent to 5,586.31 at the close of trading in London. The gauge increased 0.2 percent yesterday as investor optimism following Greece’s election at the weekend outweighed a surge in Spain’s borrowing costs. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also climbed 1.7 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.4 percent.

“Hopes are growing that Greece’s New Democracy party will form a coalition with the Pasok party and bring political stability to the indebted country,” Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist at ETX Capital in London, wrote in a note.

Greece’s New Democracy, Pasok and Democratic Left will agree to form a coalition government later today, state-run Athens News Agency reported, without saying how it got the information. The three hold 179 seats in the 300-member parliament between them.

G-20 Summit

Leaders at the G-20 summit in Mexico focused on how to stabilize euro-area banks. The governments of Germany, France, Italy and Spain will commit to protect the currency union, according to a draft of the statement that the G-20 will issue at the end of the summit.

The 17 members of the currency zone “will take all necessary policy measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the area, improve financial markets and break the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks,” according to the draft provided by an official from a G-20 government who asked not to be identified because the statement is not yet public.

In the U.S., a report today showed that builders broke ground on fewer houses in May than in April. Starts slid 4.8 percent last month to a 708,000 annual pace, missing the median estimate of 76 economists surveyed by Bloomberg for a 0.7 percent increase.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day policy meeting today. The U.S. central bank bought $2.3 trillion of bonds in two rounds of so-called quantitative easing from December 2008 to June 2011, in an attempt to limit borrowing costs and stimulate the economy.

Whitbread, Home Retail

Whitbread surged 6.4 percent to 1,967 pence after saying first-quarter revenue jumped 14 percent. Sales increased 25 percent at its Costa Coffee outlets. The company will expand its Premier Inn chain and add more Costa shops this year, creating 3,500 jobs.

Home Retail rallied 24 percent 91.85 pence, the biggest gain since the company split off from GUS Plc in 2006. Revenue at Argos stores open at least a year fell 0.2 percent in the 13 weeks ended June 2, the Milton Keynes, England-based retailer said. That compared with the median 4 percent drop of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Kingfisher Plc, Britain’s largest home-improvement retailer, rose 3.9 percent to 284 pence.

Hammerson Plc added 2.5 percent to 428 pence. Brookfield Office Properties Inc., lower Manhattan’s biggest office landlord, agreed to buy buildings and a development site in London from Hammerson for 518 million pounds ($815 million).

ARM Holdings Gains

ARM Holdings Plc, which designs chips for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, advanced 3.6 percent to 508 pence. Microsoft Corp. said it will use the company’s technology in a version of its new Surface tablet.

AstraZeneca Plc added 2.9 percent to 2,760 pence. The drugmaker said it agreed to an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. to develop and commercialize Rigel’s asthma treatment.

Standard Chartered Plc increased 3.5 percent to 1,417 pence after Bank of America Corp. upgraded the U.K.’s second-largest lender by market value to buy from neutral.

Evraz Plc, the largest steelmaker in Russia, gained 3.2 percent to 283.9 pence. The company forecast earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $5 billion in 2016. It generated Ebitda of $2.9 billion last year.

Weir Group Plc, the world’s biggest maker of pumps for the mining industry, jumped 4.6 percent to 1,503 pence after reiterating its full-year guidance from May 9.

Eurasian Natural Resources, a metal producer in Kazakhstan, added 5.1 percent to 435 pence, as mining shares advanced. Antofagasta Plc added 2.1 percent to 1,096 pence. Vedanta Resources Plc rose 2.8 percent to 966 pence. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-biggest mining company, rose 3 percent to 3,051 pence. Kazakhmys Plc, Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer, climbed 3.8 percent to 743 pence.

3i, BG Group

3i Group Plc increased 2.3 percent to 180.8 pence. The private-equity group said it sold a 7.2 percent stake in Norma Group AG to an institutional investor at 19.25 euros per share, raising more than 44 million euros ($55.9 million). 3i said it retained a 28.3 percent stake in Norma, which makes engineered joining technology.

BG Group Plc climbed 4.3 percent to 1,284 pence. The U.K.’s third-largest natural-gas producer sold $1.57 billion of hybrid bonds to fund projects in Brazil, Australia and elsewhere.

Chemring Group Plc tumbled 9.3 percent to 293.5 pence. The defense manufacturer reported pretax profit of 39.2 million pounds for the first half, falling short of the average analyst estimate of 46 million pounds.

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