U.K. Stocks Gain as RBS, Capita Rise; RSA Insurance Falls
RBS, Britain’s biggest state-owned lender, soared 5.1 percent even after reporting a wider-than-estimated loss. Capita Plc rose 4.3 percent after forecasting revenue will grow this year. RSA fell 4.9 percent after profit missed estimates following the worst year for natural disasters on record.
The benchmark FTSE 100 Index (UKX) advanced 0.4 percent to 5,937.89 at the close in London as seven of the gauge’s 102 members reported earnings today. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also added 0.4 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index increased 0.3 percent.
“The steady stream of good macro indicators coming out of the U.S. beat the challenges the euro area faces,” said Witold Bahrke, a senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S in Copenhagen, which manages $45 billion. “Initial jobless claims were better than expected and set the agenda for late trading.”
The FTSE 100 retreated for a second day yesterday after a report showed services and manufacturing in the euro area unexpectedly shrank this month. The gauge has still climbed 20 percent from its low in October as better-than-forecast U.S. data helped ease concern about the sovereign-debt crisis and Greece secured a second bailout.
In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that claims for unemployment-insurance payments held at a four-year low last week. Applications for jobless benefits were unchanged in the week ended Feb. 18 at 351,000, the fewest since March 2008. The median projection in a Bloomberg News survey called for 355,000 claims.
RBS, Lloyds Banking
RBS surged 5.1 percent to 28.72 pence, erasing yesterday’s 3.1 percent retreat. The state-owned lender said it “exceeded run-off targets” in its non-core businesses, bringing forward some of its losses. The bank’s loss for 2011 widened to 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) from 1.1 billion pounds a year earlier. That missed the median analyst estimate of 1.1 billion pounds.
The bank took a sovereign-debt impairment of 1.1 billion pounds to write off Greek securities. Its loss would have been narrower if it hadn’t taken 850 million pounds in charges relating to compensation for customers who were improperly sold personal-loan insurance.
Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY), the U.K.’s biggest mortgage lender, increased 3.3 percent to 36.58 pence.
Capita, Informa Rally
Capita jumped 4.3 percent to 718 pence after the company that provides a criminal-records service for the U.K. Home Office reported full-year revenue in line with estimates and cited “good growth prospects” for 2012.
“We already have good visibility of stronger revenue growth this year due to renewed organic growth from our major contract sales performance and the contribution from acquisitions,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Pindar wrote in a statement.
Informa Plc (INF) surged 4.4 percent to 435.3 pence after full- year revenue and earnings per share met analysts’ estimates and the company raised its full-year dividend 20 percent to 16.8 pence. The publisher of Lloyd’s List also said that 2012 has “started in line with our expectations” and forecast “another year of growth.”
Elsewhere, Bodycote Plc (BOY) surged 16 percent to 389.3 pence, heading for its biggest advance since March 2007. The company reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates and said there was a “good prospect that the business will continue to move forward in the coming year.”
RSA, IAG Retreat
RSA Insurance paced declining shares, falling 4.9 percent to 107 pence, after the U.K.’s biggest non-life insurer by market value reported a 20 percent increase in full-year profit to 427 million pounds, missing analysts’ median estimate of 508 million pounds.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA paced a selloff in European airlines, falling 1.6 percent to 162.6 pence, as crude oil traded near a nine-month high amid speculation that tension with Iran over its nuclear program will threaten supplies. EasyJet Plc (EZJ) retreated for a fourth consecutive day, slipping 1 percent to 454.3 pence.
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