U.K. (UKX) stocks recovered from early losses after a report showed U.S. consumer sentiment climbed to a 12-month high in February.
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) rose 1.1 percent, rebounding from yesterday’s biggest slide in three months. Whitbread Plc (WTB) fell 0.6 percent after posting slower sales growth. GKN Plc, which makes parts for Airbus SAS’s A350 aircraft, slid 4.4 percent after saying the timescale for supplies was “challenging.”
The benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose 12.36, or 0.2 percent, to 5,927.91 at the close in London, after earlier gaining as much as 0.4 percent and losing as much as 0.3 percent. The measure has still rallied 20 percent from its low in October as the European Central Bank increased lending to banks and U.S. economic reports exceeded forecasts. The FTSE All-Share Index rose 0.3 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index fell 0.3 percent.
“We’ve had much stronger economic data from the U.S. than people have been anticipating after what was on the surface, quite poor durable goods numbers,” said Gerard Lane, equities strategist at Shore Capital Group Ltd. in London.
The Conference Board’s index showed that confidence among U.S. consumers rose in February to the highest level in a year, beating forecasts. Stocks declined earlier as orders for U.S. durable goods fell 4 percent in January, the most in three years and more than predicted.
The FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent yesterday after the Group of 20 nations rejected calls from euro-area leaders to boost the International Monetary Fund’s resources.
U.K. Retail Sales
An index of U.K. retail sales rose in February to the highest in eight months as a jump in food sales masked underlying weakness in the sector, the Confederation of British Industry said.
The gauge increased to minus 2 from minus 22 the previous month, the London-based business lobby said in a report today. While a measure of expected sales for next month was at 2, indicating retailers expect sales to improve in March, stores remain cautious on the outlook.
The ECB will allocate cash to the region’s banks in a second round of unlimited funds tomorrow. Lenders will probably tap the Frankfurt-based central bank for 470 billion euros ($632 billion) in three-year funds in its long-term refinancing operation, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Ireland will hold a referendum to ratify the European fiscal compact. In contrast to two previous Irish referendums in European policies, a veto wouldn’t sink the treaty, which requires support from just 12 of the 17 euro countries to take effect.
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank by market value, rose 1.1 percent to 559.3 pence.
GKN slid 4.4 percent to 222.2 pence after Chief Executive Officer Nigel Stein said the wide-body A350 aircraft was “challenging” both technically and with regard to its target of entering service in the first half of 2014.
Whitbread fell 0.6 percent to 1,709 pence after sales at the company’s Premier Inn budget hotels open at least a year fell 0.9 percent in the 11 weeks up to Feb. 16 and Chief Executive Officer Andy Harrison said the company is operating in “difficult economic conditions.”
Cove Energy Plc (COV) climbed 2.5 percent to 240.5 pence. Shares rose as much as 4.3 percent earlier today after the Times of India reported that Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and GAIL India Ltd. may make a joint bid of $2 billion for the company, exceeding previous offers. ONGC may not top the bid by PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, three people familiar with the matter said.
Persimmon Plc (PSN), the U.K.’s largest homebuilder by market value, jumped 13 percent to 706.5 pence after saying it plans to return 1.9 billion pounds ($3 billion) to shareholders between 2013 and 2021.
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