U.K. stocks advanced in the final half an hour of trading, rebounding from their biggest decline in more than a month, as Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc climbed.
Tesco and Sainsbury each rose at least 3 percent. British American Tobacco Plc and Imperial Tobacco Group Plc increased more than 1 percent as European personal- and household-goods shares advanced. Ashtead Group Plc and Barratt Developments Plc each dropped more than 3.5 percent as investors sold the best-performing companies from the past two years.
The benchmark FTSE 100 gained 22.06 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,583.76 at the close, erasing an earlier decline of as much as 0.8 percent. The broader FTSE All-Share Index added less than
0.1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index slid 0.9 percent.
“There were, and still are, many companies that are highly valued on high hopes,” said Pierre Mouton, who helps oversee $6 billion at Notz, Stucki & Cie. in Geneva. “Earnings disclosures as well as company outlooks this month will give us a good sense of what’s next.”
In the U.S., a Commerce Department report showed retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in March, their biggest increase since September 2012. That beat the 0.9 percent advance forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Tesco, the U.K. grocer posting its full-year results on Wednesday, gained 3 percent to 289.4 pence. Tesco will cut the price of fruit, vegetables, meat and some dairy items, the Sunday Express reported, citing analysts. Rival supermarket chain Sainsbury climbed 5.5 percent to 326.5 pence.
Imperial Tobacco gained 1.1 percent to 2,474 pence, while British American Tobacco added 1.7 percent to 3,451 pence.
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, which posts first-quarter sales on Wednesday, advanced 2.1 percent to 4,833 pence. A gauge of European personal- and household-goods companies climbed 1.4 percent today.
French Connection Group Plc jumped 11 percent to 74.3 pence after saying same-store retail sales in the U.K. and Europe rose 11 percent in the 11 weeks to April 12.
Caracal Energy Inc. surged 55 percent to 530 pence after Glencore Xstrata Plc agreed to buy the oil and gas explorer with assets in the Republic of Chad for $1.35 billion, or 550 pence a share. That’s a 61 percent premium to Caracal’s closing price on April 11. Glencore rose 2 percent to 317.9 pence.
Ashtead fell 4.3 percent to 842 pence. The building-equipment rental company jumped 78 percent last year and 89 percent in 2012. Barratt, Britain’s second-largest developer by market value, lost 3.8 percent to 371.5 pence. The builder rallied 68 percent in 2013 after more than doubling in 2012.
Sports Direct International Plc lost 4 percent to 740.5 pence as Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co. agreed to buy a 89 percent stake in the owner of department-store group House of Fraser. Sports Direct’s founder, Mike Ashley, bought the outstanding 11 percent stake last month. Highland Group Holdings Ltd., which owns House of Fraser, said that Ashley will not get a seat on the board.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA slid 3.8 percent to 377.1 pence as travel companies slumped. Thomas Cook Group Plc, Europe’s second-largest tour operator, retreated 4.5 percent to 164.2 pence.
Ocado Group Plc sank 7.2 percent to 349.7 pence. Britain’s biggest online-only grocer has tumbled 24 percent this month as investors sold shares in Internet companies. Ocado’s shares more than quintupled in 2013. The company still trades at 123 times expected earnings, according to Bloomberg data.
Pro-Russian separatists killed a Ukrainian soldier and wounded five during a firefight in the city of Slovyansk, according to the Ukrainian government. Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the European Union had agreed to hold talks in Geneva on Thursday aimed at resolving the crisis.