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U.K. Stocks Are Little Changed as German Data Offset U.S.

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May 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks were little changed, with the FTSE 100 Index posting a weekly decline, as worse-than-forecast German business confidence data offset a better-than-expected report on U.S. home purchases.

Tullow Oil Plc retreated 1.2 percent after saying it found only traces of gas at an Ethiopian well. London Stock Exchange Group Plc gained 2.4 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. upgraded the shares. Sports Direct International Plc advanced after Exane BNP Paribas recommended buying the stock.

The FTSE 100 Index slipped 4.81 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,815.75 at the close of trading in London. The benchmark posted a 0.6 percent decline this week. The broader FTSE All-Share Index lost less than 0.1 percent today, and Ireland’s ISEQ Index also fell less than 0.1 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 32 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

The German Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, slipped to 110.4 in May from 111.2 last month. Economists predicted a drop to 110.9, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

Purchases of new U.S. homes rose in April by the most in six months. The 6.4 percent increase to a 433,000 annualized rate followed a revised 407,000 in March that was larger than initially estimated, Commerce Department data showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for the rate to accelerate to 425,000.

Tullow Oil Plc fell 1.2 percent to 841 pence. The oil exploration company said it found only traces of gas at its Shimela well in Ethiopia. The company will now move the well’s drilling rig to a separate project.

LSE Gains

LSE added 2.4 percent to 1,852 pence. Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the shares to neutral from sell, citing cost synergies and business diversification related to its purchase of LCH.Clearnet Group Ltd.

Sports Direct rose 0.7 percent to 774 pence, paring earlier gains of as much as 2.2 percent. Exane initiated coverage of the shares with an outperform rating, similar to a buy. The company’s international expansion and profitable online growth will help earnings per share almost double in four years, Exane said.

Go-Ahead Group Plc jumped 9 percent to 2,113 pence. The Department for Transport chose the company to operate an expanded London rail franchise that will be Britain’s biggest ever with more than 280 million commuter journeys a year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Trista Kelley in London at tkelley2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net Alan Soughley, Srinivasan Sivabalan

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