January 11, 2018 / 9:58 AM / a year ago

FTSE hits new high despite Tesco and M&S Christmas slumps

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Underwhelming Christmas updates at retailers Tesco and Marks and Spencer weighed on the UK’s top share index on Thursday but failed to prevent it from hitting a new high, with strong metal and oil prices supporting mining and energy stocks.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE benchmark closed up 0.2 percent at 7,762.94 points.

Marks and Spencer (MKS.L) shares sank 7 percent, the biggest loss on the FTSE, after sales fell in the last quarter of 2017, hampering the British retailer’s latest attempt at a corporate turnaround..

Tesco (TSCO.L) fell 4.5 percent as the country’s biggest retailer missed forecasts for Christmas trading as lower demand for general goods offset strong sales of fresh food.

FILE PHOTO - Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Britain’s second-largest supermarket, and fourth-ranked Morrisons (MRW.L) both beat forecasts for Christmas trading but fell 2.1 percent and 1.4 percent respectively.

Mid-cap retailer Card Factory (CARDC.L) slumped 20 percent, also on the back of its Christmas update.

“Thursday’s batch of updates does not alleviate renewed investor concerns that the retail sector could relapse into the malaise of a few years back”, Ken Odeluga, a market analyst at City Index commented.

British builder Barratt (BDEV.L) fell 2.7 percent, after it posted a flat sales rate in the last six months of 2017 while Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) edged down 1.8 percent, continuing a slide from the previous session, when it said full-year results for 2017 would be in line with expectations.

Lifting the broader index, stronger metal prices pushed up big mining companies, including Anglo American (AAL.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and BHP Billiton BLT.L. Their shares rose 3.6 percent, 1.9 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

Among the gainers, Just Eat (JE.L) led with a rise of 4.7 percent, underpinned by a Barclays upgrade to “overweight” on expectations of strong revenue momentum in the fourth quarter and the year 2018.

Oil prices, surging to their highest since 2014, also helped BP (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) add a few points to the index with rises of 0.5 percent.

Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus Editing by Larry King and Hugh Lawson

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