U.K. Stocks Rise as Europe Is Quiet on May Day

LONDON (The Deal) -- U.K. stocks edged higher on Thursday, buoyed by largely positive business updates from FTSE 100 heavy hitters, as markets in most of Europe and Asia were closed for public holidays.

In China, the National Bureau of Statistics Purchasing Managers' Index for April rose to 50.4 from a reading of 50.3, slightly below consensus expectations.

In the U.K., the Nationwide Building Society reported that house prices rose by an annual 10.9% in April, the fastest rate since June 2007.

By mid-morning in London the FTSE 100 was up 0.36% at 6,084.64.

Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) was up more than 4% after reporting a 22% increase in underlying profit to 1.8 billion pounds ($3 billion) and confirming it plans to hold talks in the second half with financial regulators about resuming dividend payments.

Notably, CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio said the bank's priority has shifted from reshaping the lender, which was bailed out by the government in January 2009, toward growth.

British Sky Broadcasting was up almost 4% after announcing third-quarter figures that showed it added 764,000 new paid subscribers and that its 15 million subscribers are on average taking more products from the 21st Century Fox affiliate than a year ago.

Power producer BG Group posted a 13% decline in first-quarter operating profit to $1.97 billion, and repeated a Monday warning that 2014 output would come in at the lower end of guidance because of problems in Egypt. That warning, accompanied by the surprise resignation of CEO Chris Finlayson, has stoked bid speculation this week and on Thursday the stock was up over 2%.

Asset manager Schroders rose after reporting record funds under management.

Lender Barclays (BCS), which is widely expected next week to announce the creation of a bad bank to house troubled assets, also rose after UBS analysts raised their recommendation to buy from neutral.

But industrial companies Rolls-Royce Holdings  and Weir Group, which earlier this month was rebuffed by Finnish takeover target Metso, both fell after reporting trading updates.

In Tokyo, Nomura Holdings closed up 6.3% after an above-forecast quarterly profit report and the announcement of a share buyback.

Musical and audio equipment maker Yamaha  closed up more 11% after announcing strong full-year sales and profit growth, thanks in part to exchange-rate fluctuations, and saying it will pay more in dividends than previously expected.

The Nikkei 225 closed up 1.3% at 14,485.13.

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