U.K. Stocks Rise to Three-Week High; Fresnillo, M&S Gain

U.K. stocks climbed to a three-week high, as Fresnillo Plc led a rally in miners.

Fresnillo rose 3.7 percent, the biggest gain in the benchmark FTSE 100 Index, after RBC Capital Markets increased its rating on the stock. Marks & Spencer Group Plc rose 2.2 percent for a second day of gains. Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc lost 1.7 percent after HSBC Holdings Plc said it doesn’t see long-term growth for the grocer.

The FTSE 100 advanced 6.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,659.04 at the close of trading in London. The U.K. equity gauge climbed 0.9 percent in the past two days to its highest level since March 11. The broader FTSE All-Share Index gained 0.1 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index added less than 0.1 percent.

“The wave of economic data both out of the U.S. and of Europe has been good so far this week and confirm a continued recovery,” said Alessandro Fezzi, senior market analyst at LGT Bank Schweiz AG in Zurich. “There are positive triggers lying ahead, such as tomorrow’s ECB policy decision as well as Friday’s U.S. employment data -- there are positive expectations for both of those events, causing a friendly environment leading up to them.”

The European Central Bank will probably maintain its key interest rate at a record low of 0.25 percent tomorrow, economists’ projections show. U.S. payroll data due on Friday will show that hiring increased in March, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Economy

A U.S. report from ADP Research Institute showed that American companies added 191,000 workers last month, compared with a 195,000 forecast and up from a revised 178,000 in February that was more than initially estimated.

Separate data from the Commerce Department showed that factory orders climbed 1.6 percent in February, following a 1 percent drop the previous month. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey had called for a rise of 1.2 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100-listed companies was 7.9 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Fresnillo gained 3.7 percent to 877 pence. RBC Capital Markets upgraded the silver producer to outperform from sector perform, meaning investors should buy the stock. The brokerage said the recent selloff was overdone, making the shares attractive. The stock dropped 11 percent in March.

Randgold Resources Ltd. advanced 2.3 percent to 4,617 pence, and Antofagasta Plc increased 2 percent to 856.5 pence. A gauge of mining companies in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posted the biggest jump among 19 industry groups.

M&S Rises

Marks & Spencer rose 2.2 percent, the most in almost two months, to 469.9 pence. Britain’s largest clothing retailer climbed 1.8 percent yesterday after saying it set a goal to increase earnings at its international business by 40 percent over the next three years.

Intermediate Capital Group Plc gained 3.4 percent to 449.9 pence after HSBC raised the money manager to overweight from neutral, meaning investors should buy the shares. HSBC said the company could increase returns to shareholders, including through a special dividend or a share buyback.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA advanced 2.8 percent to 436.5 pence after the International Air Transport Association said global air freight saw a 2.9 percent rise in demand in February.

Morrison fell 1.7 percent to 207.2 pence. HSBC lowered its stock-price estimate by 20 percent to 160 pence. HSBC has an underweight rating, the equivalent of a sell, on the supermarket chain.

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