January 3, 2018 / 8:25 AM / 9 months ago

Buoyant retailers lead European shares higher

LONDON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - European shares advanced in early deals on Wednesday, recovering from a muted start to the year’s trading as retail stocks led the way, while attention was also on the implementation of new financial market rules.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.3 percent, while euro zone blue chips gained 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat.

While gains among health care firms, tech and materials supported indexes, trading was expected to be cautious following the holiday season and on the first day new European Union market rules came into force.

Though company news was sparse, British retailer Next saw its shares jump 8.5 percent to the top of the STOXX after the company upped its profit forecast on beating expectations for Christmas sales.

While Next is the first major listed retailer to give an update on Christmas trading, shares in peer Marks & Spencer also rose more than 2 percent.

Europe’s retail index was the best-performing sector on the day, up 1 percent, though it had a shaky performance in 2017, ending the year with a loss of 3 percent.

Shares in semiconductor maker AMS were also buoyant, up 2.9 percent following strong gains in the previous session for U.S. tech peers.

While falls were limited, outside of the STOXX 600 shares in British builder Carillion tumbled 5.4 percent after Britain’s markets watchdog opened an investigation into the firm.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Alison Williams

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