U.K. stocks advanced, with the FTSE 100 Index extending its highest level in more than five years, as shares of retailers rallied and as U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week.
Home Retail Group Plc jumped to a 20-month high after the owner of the Argos and Homebase chains released a trading update for the year ended March 2. Ocado Group Plc surged to its highest price in more than 19 months after saying it is in talks to help Morrison with its online plan. Trinity Mirror Plc plunged the most in two years.
The FTSE 100 Index rose 47.91 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,529.41 at the close of trading. The gauge has rallied 11 percent so far this year. The broader FTSE All-Share Index gained 0.8 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 1.1 percent.
“We’re lucky in the U.K. that, although the outlook here is dismal, the stock market is made up of great companies that can generate their earnings overseas,” George Godber, who helps manage about $2.7 billion at Miton Group Plc in London, told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television. “We are moving from markets being policy driven to growth driven.”
European leaders begin a two-day summit in Brussels today which may endorse plans for loosening austerity measures and giving debt-ridden countries more time to bring down deficits.
In the U.S., initial jobless claims fell to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, from a revised 342,000 in the previous week, data from the Labor Department report showed today. Economists had predicted an increase to 350,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Home Retail surged 12 percent to 148.9 pence, its highest price since July 2011. Pretax profit was about 90 million pounds ($136 million) for the year ended March 2, the retailer said. The company in January had said profit would be about 10 million pounds more than analysts’ estimate of 73 million pounds. Home Retail will report full-year earnings on May 1.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc gained 1.7 percent to 276.2 pence after Chief Executive Officer Dalton Philips said the U.K.’s fourth-biggest grocer aims to start an online business in 2014. The company reported its first annual profit decline in six years.
Ocado rallied 24 percent to 170 pence, its highest price since July 2011. The online grocer said it is in talks with Morrison to license some of its intellectual property and operating knowledge for the online plan.
Aggreko Plc jumped 6.9 percent to 1,965 pence after the power supplier said it will provide 122 megawatts of electricity to utilities in Mozambique and Namibia.
Booker Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest food wholesaler, rose 7.8 percent to 125 pence, its highest price in seven years. The U.K. Competition Commission said it provisionally approved the company’s acquisition of Makro Holding Ltd, Metro AG’s wholesale unit. The companies announced the deal in May 2012.
Savills Plc advanced 7.1 percent to 595 pence, its highest price since July 2007. Pretax profit rose 36 percent to 54.2 million pounds in 2012, the property brokerage said.
“We have started 2013 more strongly than last year and we are confident in the group’s prospects for the coming period,” CEO Jeremy Helsby said in a statement.
Trinity Mirror lost 21 percent to 95.5 pence, for the biggest drop since March 2011. Full-year revenue fell to 706.5 million pounds in 2012 from 760.7 million pounds in the previous year, Trinity Mirror said today.
Separately, London police said it arrested four journalists who either currently or previously worked at the publisher’s Sunday Mirror publications in connection with a phone-hacking investigation.