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London stocks gain on sharp rebound in May retail sales, oil boost

(Reuters) - London shares rose on Friday as a sharp rebound in retail sales in May bolstered hopes of a swift economic recovery from a pandemic-driven slump, while energy shares tracked a gain in oil prices.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Data on Friday showed retail sales volumes surged by a record 12% in May amid an easing in the nationwide shutdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Food and beverage .FTNMX3530 stocks were among the top gainers, and along with personal goods .FTNMX3760 took the mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC up 0.8%.

“The retail sales numbers show the economy isn’t dead,” said Andrea Cicione, strategist at TS Lombard, adding that investors were positioning for second-quarter numbers while keeping an eye on the resurgence in COVID-19 cases globally.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE led gains among European peers, closing up 1.1%. A slide in the pound GBP= also aided gains in internationally focused firms on the blue-chip index. [GBP/]

As oil prices rose on OPEC+ agreeing to meet supply cut commitments, BP Plc BP.L and Royal Dutch Shell Plc RDSa.L rose 2% and 1%, respectively. [O/R]

Lenders Lloyds LLOY.L, Barclays BARC.L and Royal Bank of Scotland RBS.L, however, fell after Britain's markets watchdog proposed extending consumer credit payment holidays by three months to support borrowers.

The FTSE 100 gained 3% on the week, rising for the fourth week in five as optimism globally around increasing business activity overshadowed concerns of further lockdowns.

UK stock markets have joined a global rally following a pandemic-driven crash in March, with the FTSE 100 now less than 20% below its record high, partly aided by historic stimulus.

A survey on Friday showed consumer sentiment recorded its biggest improvement in nearly four years in June.

But as data showed surging public debt, and given plummeting tax receipts and soaring spending, managing the public accounts remains a daunting challenge for the government, warned Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell.

Reporting by Susan Mathew, Shashank Nayar and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Alex Richardson

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