U.K. Stocks Gain for Fourth Straight Day as M&S Rallies

U.K. stocks climbed for a fourth day, putting the FTSE 100 Index on course for the biggest weekly gain in three months, as a report showed U.S. jobless-benefit claims fell more than forecast.

Marks & Spencer Group Plc rose the most in three weeks after posting faster sales growth than analysts had estimated. Ashmore Group Plc rallied the most in more than four years as assets under management increased. Man Group Plc jumped 6.8 percent after regulators cut the amount of capital the hedge-fund manager must hold. Evraz Plc tumbled the most ever as Russia’s biggest steelmaker paid no final dividend.

The FTSE 100 climbed 28.77 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,416.14 at the close in London. The benchmark gauge has advanced 2.7 percent so far this week as Chinese imports beat forecasts and as U.S. equities surged to a record, trimming the decline from its March 14 high to 1.7 percent. The broader FTSE All-Share Index and Ireland’s ISEQ Index each rose 0.6 percent.

“We’ve seen a couple of tough weeks previously, so indices are grinding higher after the correction,” said Veronika Pechlaner, who helps manage about $1.5 billion as investment manager at Jersey, Channel Islands-based Ashburton Ltd. “U.K. equities have pretty much followed the global markets in this trend, and we’ve seen stocks rise over the last couple of days. We saw weakness in share prices after the profit taking at the end of last month, and we’re rebounding from that.”

The volume of shares changing hands in companies on the FTSE 100 today was 24 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Jobless Claims

In the U.S., initial jobless claims slipped to 346,000 in the week ended April 6 from a revised 388,000 in the previous period, the Labor Department said. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey had projected a drop to 360,000.

Marks & Spencer rallied 4.3 percent to 400.4 pence after the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer said food revenue climbed 4 percent in the 13 weeks ended March 30, beating the 2.5 percent median forecast of analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That’s the biggest gain since March 18.

Ashmore surged 13 percent to 401 pence, the most since October 2008. The fund manager that invests in emerging markets said assets under management increased to $77.7 billion as of March 31 from $71 billion on Dec. 31.

Man Group jumped 6.8 percent to 104.3 pence, the largest advance since September. The world’s largest biggest publicly traded hedge-fund manager said the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed a change in its regulatory status, reducing the capital it must hold.

Hays, Xaar

Hays Plc soared 8.4 percent to 101.2 pence, the highest since July 2011, after the recruitment company said full-year operating profit will be at the upper end of a range of analysts’ projections. Estimates in a Bloomberg survey range from 116 million pounds ($179 million) to 122 million pounds.

Xaar Plc, the U.K. maker of industrial ink-jet printer heads and inks, surged 17 percent to 490 pence, the highest price in 13 years. The company said first-quarter sales were “significantly” higher than the year-before period and it forecast “strong growth” in profit this year.

Evraz slid 11 percent to 185.8 pence, the most since the Russian steelmaker began trading in London in November 2011. The board of directors recommended paying shareholders no final dividend, citing the deteriorating market and a weaker second-half performance.

Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. Plc declined 4.7 percent to 257.1 pence as the Financial Times reported that Chairman Mehmet Dalman, who is leading an internal probe into fraud allegations over the company’s assets in Kazakhstan, may leave after disagreements with other company executives. The newspaper cited a person it didn’t identify.

“I am committed to my current role as chairman of ENRC and continue to have a constructive working relationship with all executive team members,” Dalman said in a statement.

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