By Carla Mozee and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Mortgage lending climbs in June
U.K. stocks climbed Wednesday, notching a second day of gains, with Barclays PLC and British American Tobacco PLC moving higher after reporting a rise in profit.
The FTSE 100 finished up 1.2% to 6,631. The index on Tuesday marked its first win in six sessions. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-on-track-to-break-losing-streak-as-rsa-rallies-2015-07-28)
Barclays (>> Barclays PLC) (>> Barclays PLC) moved up 1.8%, with investors taking in stride the bank's decision to scrap its dividend target (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/barclays-drops-dividend-target-despite-profit-rise-2015-07-29) in a move to retain capital. Profit for the second quarter did rise, to GBP1.15 billion ($1.8 billion) from GBP161 million in the year-ago period.
Shares of British American Tobacco PLC (>> British American Tobacco plc) were up 3.6% following the company's report of a higher first-half profit of GBP2.65 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bat-profit-up-as-investments-offset-forex-losses-2015-07-29), aided by investments that helped offset currency losses.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (>> Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc) rose 3.7% following a ratings upgrade to buy from hold at Jefferies following Hikma's deal announced Tuesday to buy Roxane Laboratories for up to $2.65 billion. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hikma-to-buy-roxane-labs-for-up-to-265-billion-2015-07-28)
(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hikma-to-buy-roxane-labs-for-up-to-265-billion-2015-07-28)The planned Roxane deal "is a game-changer for Hikma in the U.S.," and will help diversify its revenue base, said Jefferies equity analysts James Vane-Tempest and Ben Easton, in a note. They added they see continued gains for Hikma shares even after their rally.
Sky PLC (>> SKY PLC) shares finished up 0.7% after the broadcaster posted yearly profit that more than doubled to GBP1.96 billion pounds from the year-earlier period. Operating profit before exceptional items -- a key metric of business performance -- rose 18% to GBP1.4 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sky-profit-more-than-doubles-as-it-wins-customers-2015-07-29-24854928).
But Capita PLC (>> Capita PLC) shares were off 1.2% after the company said first-half pretax profit fell 4% to GBP146.1 million (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/capita-pretax-profit-slips-backs-2015-guidance-2015-07-29).The support-services company raised its dividend and backed its full-year forecast.
Meanwhile, the pound was changing hands at $1.5619, holding to a small gain after data showed lending to U.K. homebuyers rose by GBP2.6 billion in June (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-mortgage-lending-hits-7-year-high-2015-07-29), the largest amount in seven years. The pound late Tuesday was buying $1.5610.
After the close of European trade, the U.S. Federal Reserve will release its statement on monetary policy, which will be scrutinized for any clues as to when the central bank may begin to raise interest rates. Chairwoman Janet Yellen won't hold a news conference after the release and there will be no updated economic projections.
See also:Five hawkish signals the Fed might send today (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/five-hawkish-signals-the-fed-might-send-today-2015-07-29)