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Standard Life, Man Group rise in London


LONDON (MarketWatch) -- British stocks rose Wednesday, with Standard Life PLC climbing after better-than-expected results and hedge-fund manager Man Group plc also jumping sharply.

The U.K. FTSE 100 index (UKX) rose 0.6% to 5,194.28, but pared bigger early gains as worries over growth and the sovereign-debt crisis refused to go away.

Other European markets were also higher and Asian markets rallied after the Federal Open Market Committee said Tuesday that U.S. interest rates will remain low through mid-2013.

Shares in Standard Life (SL.) were the top performer, jumping 7.7% after the life insurance and investments firm said operating profit in the first half of the year jumped 44% and that inflows into its long-term savings products had risen 14%.

Operating profit of 262 million pounds ($425 million) was nearly a third more than analysts had been expecting.

Man Group (EMG) climbed 6.1%. The hedge-fund manager said late Tuesday that the net asset value of its AHL fund rose 1.9% in the previous week.

The biggest faller on the main index was supermarket giant TESCO Plc (TSCO), which dropped 2.1% after the U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading said it had fined four supermarkets, including Tesco, and five dairy producers a total of 49.5 million for coordinating increases in the prices of certain dairy products.

Mining stocks were mostly higher as commodity prices rose following the recent selloff. Shares in Vedanta Resources PLC climbed 3.9% and Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) added 2%.

Engineering firm Weir Group Plc (WEIR) also was among the top performers, climbing 5.8%. Goldman Sachs added the stock to its “conviction buy” list, citing valuation after the stock fell 23% over the course of a couple of weeks.

Outside the main index, shares in Micro Focus International PLC (MCRO) surged 20% after the software company said second-quarter revenue was ahead of the board’s expectations and that it now had a net cash position.


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