LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 blue-chip index hit fresh record highs on Tuesday, boosted by gains among retailers, while a rally in mining stocks more than offset weaker financials, helping European shares end slightly in positive territory.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index inched up 0.1 percent, while the FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 0.5 percent after hitting a new all-time high of 7,284.81 points. France's CAC 40 .FCHI was flat and Germany's DAX .GDAXI added 0.2 percent.
Retail was heavily in focus. Morrisons (MRW.L) was among the top gainers in London after Christmas trading results exceeded expectations. Its shares ended up 3.6 percent in heavy volumes.
Britain’s largest retailer, Tesco (TSCO.L), rose 6 percent after market research showed it had the fastest sales growth of the country’s four major players.
Metro MEOG.DE underperformed its UK peers with a flat close after the German discount retailer reported sluggish festive sales.
Mining and metal stocks .SXPP were the top performers, up 3.3 percent, extending their recent gains. The top risers were Anglo American (AAL.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and BHP Billiton (BLT.L), which tracked the price of copper higher. [MET/L]
The fast food delivery company Just Eat (JE.L) was the top faller on the STOXX, down 6.9 percent, after reporting full-year order growth of 42 percent but failing to beat its estimates.
“With a stock trading on such a lofty valuation, the market has grown to expect the company to exceed its estimates, so there’s a little bit of disappointment,” said Michael Stewart, analyst at Panmure Gordon Equities.
“It highlights the expectation that these companies can go on upgrading forever. We believe the investment case is intact, especially if the acquisition of Hungry House goes ahead.”
The insurance .SXIP and banking .SX7P sectoral indexes fell 0.6 percent and 0.1 percent respectively, with Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) down 0.7 percent on a UBS downgrade to “sell”, and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) down 2.4 percent.
In Lisbon, Banco Commercial Portugues (BCP.LS) fell 11.3 percent to a fresh record low after the bank approved a heavily dilutive 1.3-billion-euros cash call to boost its capital position.
Spain's Banco Popular POP.MC led the Madrid IBEX .IBEX lower, falling 2.7 percent.
Editing by Catherine Evans