Bloomberg News

U.K. Stocks Rebound From Two Days of Losses; Lloyds, BSkyB Climb

October 19, 2011

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. stocks advanced, rebounding from two days of losses, amid conflicting newspaper reports that Germany and France have agreed to further boost the euro area’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.

Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc jumped more than 3 percent. British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc climbed after saying operating profit rose 16 percent.

The benchmark FTSE 100 Index increased 0.7 percent to 5,450.49 at the close in London. The FTSE All-Share Index and Ireland’s ISEQ Index added 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 has advanced for the past three weeks amid optimism that European policy makers will devise a solution to the crisis that has brought Greece to the brink of default.

“The mood in equity markets turned amidst suggestions that an agreement had been reached over bolstering the EFSF,” Ben Critchley, a sales trader at IG Index in London, wrote in a note. “Such suggestions were quickly met with rebuttals, however, it’s been difficult to establish the veracity of either call, so for the time being at least, traders do seem to be taking the glass-half-full approach.”

The Guardian newspaper reported that Germany and France have agreed to boost the region’s rescue fund, known as the EFSF, to 2 trillion euros ($2.8 trillion) from 440 billion euros. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers from the country’s governing Christian Democratic Union that the euro area may increase the EFSF to a maximum of 1 trillion euros through an insurance model, Financial Times Deutschland said.

French, German Talks

France and Germany are still working on how to increase the power of the rescue fund as part of a comprehensive agreement to help banks and Greece, a person with direct knowledge of the talks told Bloomberg News.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel late yesterday said that the euro-area summit on Oct. 23 will mark an “important step,” though not the final one in solving the debt crisis. The comments marked the second time in two days that the German government sought to lower expectations.

Lloyds jumped 3.4 percent to 33.15 pence. RBS climbed 3.1 percent to 24.47 pence.

BSkyB rallied 5.1 percent to 710 pence. The U.K.’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster said fiscal first-quarter operating profit increased 16 percent as the company sold more products such as broadband to its existing subscribers.

Earnings before interest and taxes and other items rose to 295 million pounds ($466 million) in the three months through September from a year earlier, the Isleworth, England-based company said today. Analysts had estimated 286.5 million.

Latin America Growth

Diageo Plc added 4 percent to 1,331 pence. The world’s largest distiller reported sales growth in its fiscal first quarter that exceeded analysts’ estimates, boosted by growth in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The company said so-called organic sales growth climbed 9 percent, exceeding the median analyst estimate of 5.1 percent.

Ashtead Group Plc, a U.K. equipment-rental company, surged 6 percent to 159.8 pence. U.S. peer United Rentals Inc. reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.

Aegis Group Plc, an advertising-planning company, climbed 3.3 percent to 138.7 pence. The stock was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at HSBC Holdings Plc.

ARM Holdings Plc, the designer of chips used in Apple Inc. devices, slipped 1.9 percent to 580.5 pence after the California-based maker of iPhones and iPads reported profit that missed analysts’ estimates for the first time in at least six years.

Home Retail Group Plc sank 17 percent to 99.5 pence after saying first-half earnings plunged 70 percent. The owner of the U.K.’s Homebase home-improvement chain said sales since the end of the period have failed to improve as expected.

--Editor: Will Hadfield

To contact the reporter on this story: Adria Cimino in Paris at acimino1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net.


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