U.K. Stocks Rise as Service-Industries Growth Accelerates

U.K. stocks advanced from their lowest level in more than three weeks as a report showed that activity in services industries accelerated at the fastest pace in eight months.

Aggreko Plc added 1.1 percent after posting better-than-estimated sales. Standard Life Plc advanced 1.5 percent after the Scottish life insurer increased its interim dividend. Meggitt Plc lost 4.7 percent after reporting a drop in first-half earnings. InterContinental Hotels Group Plc -- the owner of the Holiday Inn chain -- slipped 3.3 percent after saying profit and sales declined in the six months through June.

The FTSE 100 Index climbed 4.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,682.48 at the close in London after earlier advancing as much as 0.5 percent. The broader FTSE All-Share Index also added 0.1 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index slipped 0.2 percent.

Markit Economics’ purchasing managers’ index jumped to 59.1 in July from 57.7 in June. The median economist forecast had called for a reading of 58. Numbers greater than 50 mean that activity expanded.

Aggreko rose 1.1 percent to 1,740 pence. The world’s largest supplier of mobile-power generators reported sales of 768 million pounds ($1.3 billion) in the first half, beating the average analyst estimate of 742 million pounds.

Standard Life advanced 1.5 percent to 370 pence after increasing its interim dividend by 7.3 percent to 5.6 pence a share. Operating profit at Scotland’s biggest insurer rose 12 percent to 339 million pounds, the company said in a statement.

Meggitt retreated 4.7 percent to 479.7 pence. The supplier of plane wheels and brakes reported that pretax profit fell 21 percent in the first half to 143.8 million pounds.

InterContinental Hotels slid 3.3 percent to 2,288 pence. Europe’s second-largest publicly traded hotel operator said profit fell 8 percent in the first half. Operating profit before exceptional items and taxes dropped to $310 million from $338 million a year earlier, the company said.

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