U.K. stocks advanced, with the benchmark FTSE 100 (UKX) Index extending a weekly gain, as Barclays (BARC) Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc rose, and data showed U.S. jobless claims increased less than forecast.
Barclays added 3.8 percent after saying it will update shareholders on its investment bank and plans to control costs next month. Lloyds climbed 2 percent as U.S. banks reported better-than-forecast first-quarter earnings. RSA Insurance (RSA) Group Plc gained 2.3 percent after agreeing to sell four subsidiaries in eastern Europe to Polish insurer PZU SA. Diageo Plc fell 3.7 percent after the world’s largest distiller said quarterly sales slipped 1.3 percent.
The FTSE 100 rose 41.08 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,625.25 at the close of trading in London. The gauge, which has fallen 3.5 percent since reaching a 14-year high on Feb. 24, gained 1 percent this week as investors weighed Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s pledge to continue supporting the U.S. recovery. The FTSE All-Share Index added 0.7 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index retreated 0.2 percent.
Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims increased by 2,000 to 304,000 in the week ended April 12 from a revised 302,000 the prior period that was the lowest since September 2007, a Labor Department report showed. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a rise to 315,000.
Yellen said the U.S. central bank is committed to maintaining an appropriate level of monetary accommodation to support the country’s economic recovery. Investors should watch shortfalls in both inflation and the jobless rate for signals on the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision on the federal-funds rate, she said in a speech in New York after European markets closed yesterday. The Fed next meets on April 29-30 to discuss monetary policy.
Barclays rose 3.8 percent to 246.5 pence. The U.K.’s second-biggest bank said Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins and Finance Director Tushar Morzaria will speak to analysts (DGE) and investors about strategy across the businesses on May 8.
Lloyds added 2 percent to 74.28 pence. In the U.S., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US) reported earnings that topped analysts’ estimates as investment-banking revenue jumped to the highest level since the financial crisis. Morgan Stanley (MS:US) posted better-than-forecast profit on a surprise jump in fixed-income results.
RSA Insurance rose 2.3 percent to 94.7 pence, extending this year’s gain to 17 percent. PZU will pay 360 million euros ($499 million) for Lietuvos Draudimas AB in Lithuania, AAS Balta in Latvia, the Estonian branch of Codan Forsikring A/S and Link4 Towarzystwo Ubezpieczen SA, RSA said today.
Taylor Wimpey Plc added 2.8 percent to 110.1 pence. The U.K.’s second-largest housebuilder said its total order book value climbed about 33 percent to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) in the first quarter from the same period last year.
Diageo fell 3.7 percent to 1,829 pence. Sales, excluding acquisitions and currency shifts, slipped 1.3 percent in the three months ending March 31, the London-based maker of Guinness stout said today. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted growth of 1.8 percent.
Fresnillo Plc, which owns precious-metals mines in Mexico, fell 1.8 percent to 868 pence as gold and silver prices slipped. Kazakhmys Plc declined 1.9 percent to 234 pence as a gauge of commodity producers posted the second-worst performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
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