Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 rises again as retail stocks push market higher

London's premier index touched a 14-month high and closed up for the seventh straight session as rising retail stocks pushed the market higher.

The FTSE 100 Index briefly hit 6931.04, before paring back gains to rise 1.31 to 6916.02 points.

Marks & Spencer and Tesco were in the ascendency, lifting 13p to 354.5p and 3.9p to 160.5p respectively, while budget airline easyJet topped the biggest risers, up nearly 4% or 42p to 1101p.

However, blue-chip mining stocks endured a torrid time on the top flight after a gloomy economic update from China sparked fears that the demand for commodities will slow down.

Antofagasta was the biggest faller, dropping 3% or 18p to 514p, while Anglo American slumped by 28p to 856.9p, as Chinese growth in retail sales, factory output and investment all decelerated from June levels.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France was flat and Germany's Dax edged down 0.27% after German gross domestic product (GDP) slowed to a 0.4% rise in the second quarter, compared with the three months before.

European markets were also weighed down by lacklustre retail figures from the United States, which were unchanged in July compared with the month before.

The stuttering growth in US retail sales cast fresh doubt over whether the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates next month.

On the currency markets, the pound was 0.2% down against the dollar at 1.293 US dollars, despite the US retail figures announcement weighing on the greenback.

Sterling was also 0.5% lower against the euro at 1.157 euros, although the UK currency showed little reaction to an update on the UK construction sector, which fell back into recession for the first time in four years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said construction output dropped 0.7% in the second quarter, following a 0.3% fall in the first quarter, meaning the industry recorded two consecutive quarters of negative growth for the first time since 2012.

It added that construction output dropped by a lower-than-expected 0.9% in June, compared with a 2.1% fall in May, with economists expecting a 1% decline.

In UK stocks, shares in Frankie & Benny's owner Restaurant Group lifted more than 10% after it ousted its chief executive and replaced him with the former boss of Paddy Power.

Shares were up 40.9p to 417.7p, with the FTSE 250 company revealing that Danny Breithaupt will step down with immediate effect, with former bookie boss Andy McCue taking the top job.

Mr Breithaupt had led the food firm, which also operates Chiquito and Garfunkel's, for 15 years. But in April the Restaurant Group was forced to issue its latest profit warning.

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said Mr McCue's "extensive strategic background, coupled with a strong commercial flair, proven hands-on operational expertise and digital credentials, will bring considerable strength and new skills".

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were easyJet up 42p to 1101p, Marks and Spencer up 13p to 354.5p, Paddy Power Betfair up 265p to 9580p, Whitbread up 110p to 4060p.

The biggest fallers were Antofagasta down 18p to 514p, Rio Tinto down 80p to 2409p, Anglo American down 28p to 856.9p, Glencore down 3.9p to 196.2p.