U.K. stocks advanced the most in five weeks, with the FTSE 100 Index heading for its longest monthly rally since inception, as data showed U.S. consumer confidence and house prices increased.
AstraZeneca Plc rose to a 6 1/2-year high after the drugmaker said it agreed to buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $323 million. GlaxoSmithKline Plc climbed 1.9 percent as Deutsche Bank AG advised investors to buy the shares. Persimmon Plc and Taylor Wimpey Plc each added at least 3 percent after a report showed U.K. house prices increased in May.
The FTSE 100 gained 107.67 points, or 1.6 percent, to 6,762.01 at the close in London, its biggest jump since April 23. The benchmark is heading for a 5.2 percent advance in May, its 12th month of gains, as central banks maintained stimulus efforts. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also climbed 1.6 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.8 percent.
“Investor sentiment has shifted quite a lot from when it was quite bearish in mid-April,” Michael Kapler, an equities portfolio manager at Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse in Potsdam, Germany, said by phone. “U.S. data still drives markets, but now the rally has been driven by the support provided by central-bank liquidity, and this isn’t going away any time soon.”
In the U.S., a report showed that consumer confidence in the world’s largest economy rose this month to the highest level since February 2008. The Conference Board’s index rose to 76.2, exceeding the highest estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists, from a revised 69 in April.
Separate figures showed the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 10.9 percent in March from the same month last year, the biggest 12-month gain since April 2006, after advancing 9.4 percent in February. The median projection of 30 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 10.2 percent advance.
AstraZeneca, which makes the Crestor cholesterol-lowering pill, gained 2.7 percent to 3,521.5 pence, its highest price since October 2006. The company will pay $12.70 a share for Omthera, a U.S. developer of treatments for abnormal levels of fats in the bloodstream.
GlaxoSmithKline rose 1.9 percent to 1,782 pence, its highest price since December 2001. Deutsche Bank raised its rating on the stock to buy from hold, saying upcoming regulatory decisions on the company’s drugs may be favorable. The shares have rallied 33 percent so far this year.
Persimmon advanced 4.9 percent to 1,280 pence, the highest price in almost six years. Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley Group Holdings Plc added 3.2 percent to 100.8 pence and 2.8 percent to 2,182 pence, respectively. U.K. home prices rose 0.4 percent in May, following a 0.3 percent increase in April, a report showed yesterday.
Victrex Plc, a maker of heat-resistant plastics, jumped 8.4 percent to 1,765 pence, for its biggest increase in three years. The company boosted its interim dividend by 15 percent to 10.35 pence a share from 9 pence a share in the year-earlier period.
The number of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 12 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.