Manufacturing Data Spurs U.K. Stocks Higher as Bank Shares Gain

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A rally in banks helped send U.K. stocks higher after the FTSE 100 Index posted its biggest quarterly gain since 2013.

The FTSE 100 added 0.5 percent to 6,809.5 at the close in London, after advancing as much as 1.2 percent after a report showed manufacturing in Britain grew at the fastest in eight months in March.

Barclays Plc climbed 2.8 percent after Morgan Stanley named it one of the most preferred European lenders. Lloyds Banking Group Plc rose 1.4 percent. Miners Fresnillo Plc and Randgold Resources Ltd. added at least 2 percent. Kingfisher Plc fell 3.3 percent after yesterday rallying to its highest price since June.

The benchmark FTSE 100 has rallied 3.2 percent this year through yesterday, halting two straight quarters of losses. The FTSE All-Share Index rose 0.5 percent today, and Ireland’s ISEQ Index was little changed percent.

A Purchasing Managers’ Index climbed to 54.4 from 54 in February, in line with the median forecast of economists, Markit Economics Ltd. said today. The gauge has held above 50, the dividing line between expansion and contraction, for two years.

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