By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — Marks and Spencer Group PLC led the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index higher on Wednesday after a well-received earnings report, helping the benchmark snap a two-day losing run.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.02% rallied 1.3% to close at 6,539.14, more than reversing a 0.5% drop on Tuesday that was partly spurred by a dramatic drop in oil prices and a cut in eurozone growth forecasts by the European Commission.
On Wednesday, the benchmark shrugged off data showing activity in the U.K. services sector dropped to a 17-month low in October. The services purchasing managers index fell to 56.2 from 58.7 in September. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.3819% dropped to $1.5980, from around $1.6003 late Tuesday.
Shares of Marks and Spencer /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS +0.03% /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS +0.03% rallied 9.7% after the retailer delivered a surprise rise in underlying profits for the first half of the year.
Meggitt PLC /zigman2/quotes/208933633/delayed UK:MGGT +1.57% jumped 7.6%. The engineering firm reported a rise in organic revenue and affirmed its full-year guidance.
Oil firms rebounded from a bloody selloff on Tuesday that came as crude dropped to a three-year low on the back of a surprise announcement from Saudi Arabia that it will cut prices on oil sold to the U.S. Shares of Tullow Oil PLC /zigman2/quotes/205079109/delayed UK:TLW -0.30% rose 6.9% on Wednesday, BP PLC /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP -0.57% added 2.3% and BG Group PLC picked up 1.6%. Crude prices rose on Wednesday.
Outside the main index in London, shares of SWP Group PLC surged 12% after the engineering company swung to a pretax profit for fiscal 2014 and said it will raise dividends.
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