U.K. Stocks Climbs Most in Three Weeks; EasyJet Advances
EasyJet Plc (EZJ) gained 3.7 percent after forecasting its loss in the six months through March will be narrower than forecast. Kingfisher Plc (KGF) rallied to its highest price since July 2000 after Europe’s largest home-improvement retailer pledged to return money to shareholders. SABMiller Plc rose after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. raised its rating on the brewer. Royal Mail Plc dropped 3.2 percent after saying it will cut jobs.
The FTSE 100 Index (UKX) advanced 84.5 points, or 1.3 percent, to 6,604.89 at the close in London. The benchmark gauge slid to its lowest level since Feb. 5 yesterday, after world leaders met to discuss the Ukraine situation and data showed manufacturing gauges slipped from China to Germany and the U.S. The broader FTSE All-Share Index added 1.2 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index climbed 1.6 percent.
“The economic data released in the U.S. so far has been supporting the argument that the recovery is still on the correct track,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Capital Markets Ltd. in Dublin, wrote in an e-mail. “The trend should be to the upside.”
The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 17 percent less than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A U.S. report showed that the Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index rose to 82.3 this month from a revised 78.3 in February. New-house sales slipped to 440,000 in February from 455,000 in January, according to separate data. Another report today showed home values in 20 cities advanced in the year through January at the slowest pace since August.
The FTSE 100 has lost 3.8 percent from its Feb. 24 high amid mounting tensions in Ukraine. The Group of Seven threatened more sanctions against Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, after last week’s annexation of Crimea.
The top industrial nations decided to hold a summit in Brussels in June instead of a planned G-8 meeting in Sochi. U.S. President Barack Obama and his fellow G-7 leaders met in The Hague to agree on the next steps, as concern grew that Russia is building up its forces on the border with Ukraine.
EasyJet gained 3.7 percent to 1,692 pence. Europe’s second-biggest discount airline said its first-half pretax loss will be 55 million pounds ($90.7 million) to 65 million pounds. The company previously forecast a loss of 70 million pounds to 90 million pounds.
Kingfisher rallied 6 percent to 430.8 pence. The owner of Castorama stores in France and B&Q in the U.K. said it will give 200 million pounds back to shareholders in fiscal 2015. The company also said it will sell its entire 21.2 percent holding in German retailer Hornbach for about 195 million pounds to the controlling family.
SABMiller (SAB) added 5 percent to 2,978 pence. Sanford C. Bernstein raised its rating on the world’s second-biggest brewer to outperform, the equivalent of buy, from market perform. The brokerage said growth may improve significantly as the effects of emerging-market currency moves may be waning.
Travis Perkins Plc gained 3.3 percent to 1,862 pence. Citigroup Inc. raised its rating on the builders’ merchant to buy from neutral, citing improving volume trends and a positive economic backdrop this year.
Homebuilders also rose. Persimmon Plc added 1.1 percent to 1,333 pence, while Barratt Developments Plc increased 2.3 percent to 402.7 pence.
Wolseley Plc climbed 3.3 percent to 3,412 pence. The world’s largest distributor of plumbing and heating products reported that first-half sales rose 5.2 percent, while trading profit during the period increased by 8.8 percent.
888 Holdings Plc (888) jumped 6.1 percent, the most since September, to 143.2 pence. The gambling company said average daily revenue rose 8 percent this year from 2013. Last year’s sales climbed to $401 million, exceeding analysts’ projections that called for $397 million.
Royal Mail dropped 3.2 percent to 565.5 pence. The postal service that sold shares in an initial public offering last year said it will cut about 1,600 administrative jobs to streamline its operations.
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