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UPDATE 2-Signs of rebounding economic growth sends FTSE 100 to 3-week highs
Published at 12/08/2020 at 17:12

(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon news window)

* UK GDP falls by record 20.4% in Q2 but growth restarts in May

* Financials, healthcare, consumer staples drive gains

* Insurer Admiral hits record high after profit rise, dividend

* FTSE 100 up 2%, FTSE 250 gains 0.5%

(Updates to close)

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Susan Mathew

Aug 12 (Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 closed at three-week highs on Wednesday as investors cheered monthly data that showed a restart in economic growth, while upbeat earnings from motor insurer Admiral sent its shares soaring to an all-time peak.

Gross domestic product collapsed in the second quarter, shrinking 20.4%, but the blue-chip index outperformed regional peers with its 2% gain as data showed growth restarted in May and quickened by a record single-month increase in June, slightly beating forecasts.

"UK is one of the cheaper markets out there and it's one of the markets that investors expect to outperform if data continues to improve in the next few months," said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.

The lower valuation will also help UK markets benefit from a rotation to value from growth - the first signs of which are being seen through a rally in technology stocks in the United States, Cicione added.

Financials, health care and consumer staples led gains, while a surge in crude prices lifted oil stocks, helping the FTSE 100 extended gains to a fourth straight session.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 closed up 0.5%, notching fresh two-months highs.

A raft of stimulus has helped the benchmark UK stock indexes bounce from their March lows, but they are still well off their pre-pandemic highs amid surging unemployment and forecasts of a slower-than-expected economic rebound.

In earnings-driven moves, Admiral Group jumped 7.2% to top the FTSE 100 after lower motor insurance claims during Britain's coronavirus lockdown helped it record a 31% jump in first-half profit and reinstate a special dividend.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm Avast slumped 3% despite raising its full-year revenue forecast. The pandemic impacted parts of the business, including reduced demand from mobile operators for its security software, the company said.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Bernadette Baum)

((Sagarika.Jaisinghani@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2256;))

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