U.K. stocks pulled out a big win on Thursday, shrugging off worries about global growth, as a raft of corporate earnings from Royal Dutch Shell PLC and others pushed stocks higher.
The FTSE 100 UKX, +0.21% ended 0.2% higher at 6,960.62, with industrial, energy and consumer-goods shares among advancers. The blue-chip index had fallen in the previous two sessions.
On Wednesday, the index fell 1.2% as stocks globally were shaken after data showed U.S. gross domestic product grew much more slowly than anticipated in the first quarter.
But the FTSE 100 still ended April with a gain of 2.8%, outperforming other European benchmarks SXXP, -0.38% .
On Thursday, Shell RDSB, +1.23% RDS.B, +0.70% shares rose 1.2% after the British oil major said first-quarter profit rose, although revenue fell sharply. Profit on a current cost-of-supplies basis, similar to net income that U.S. oil companies report, rose to $4.76 billion from $4.16 billion a year earlier. Revenue fell to $65.71 billion from $109.66 billion a year ago
Royal Mail PLC RMG, +5.29% was the London session’s strongest performer. Shares popped 5.2% higher after Dutch postal company PostNL PNL, +1.18% and private-equity firm LDC ended talks about expanding postal-delivery company Whistl in Britain.
Jefferies noted that Royal Mail had previously said if Whistl were able to reach 40% household coverage, that could cost it about £200 million in revenue by fiscal year 2017-1018.
Drug maker Shire PLC SHP, +0.85% rose 0.9% after first-quarter profit came in ahead of analyst expectations.
But Royal Bank of Scotland RBS, -3.15% RBS, -4.24% shares dropped 3.2% after the company swung to first-quarter net loss of 446 million pounds ($688.6 million). The bank, which is 80% owned by the U.K. government, was hurt by restructuring and litigation charges.