LONDON MARKETS: Fall For Retailers Keeps FTSE 100 In Check

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.K. blue-chip benchmark tries to hold onto record

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U.K. blue-chip stocks edged higher Tuesday, staying near the record high at the close of the prior session. But the market's gain was held in check by declines for retailers after downbeat industry sales figures.

Among individual stocks, security services firm G4S's shares fell by the most in three months after a trading update.

What markets are doing: The FTSE 100 index was down 0.1% at 7,556.45, with industrial, consumer goods and utility shares in the red. But the basic materials, oil and gas and financial sectors were higher. On Monday, the benchmark ended at a record of 7,562.28 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-hovers-around-record-high-as-miners-advance-2017-11-06), but on a rise of less than 0.1%.

The pound fetched $1.3147. That was down from $1.3171 on Monday, when sterling climbed 0.7% against the dollar, according to FactSet data.

What's moving markets: Retail sales rose 0.2% in October, the slowest rate of growth since May, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG. Retail stocks fell after the data, which KPMG said should cause concern ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

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"October marked yet another reversal of fortunes for retailers, reinforcing just how volatile consumer spend has been," said Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, in a statement.

"Despite the positive picture last month, these latest figures will be a real disappointment and not the start to the golden quarter retailers had hoped for," he said.

Meanwhile, energy stocks tracked gains for oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-hover-at-2-year-highs-as-investors-watch-for-fallout-from-saudi-shake-up-2017-11-06) , which are trading around two-year highs. Brent crude traded above $64 a barrel.

Investors are also keeping an eye on the pound, which as of Monday, has added roughly 0.9% over two sessions, according to WSJ Market Data Group. One factor could be the Brexit negotiations, which are slated to restart this week.

Stock movers: G4S shares (GFS.LN) slid 6.4% after the world's largest security provider said in a trading update (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/g4s-revenue-grows-says-trading-in-line-2017-11-07) that it expects full-year revenue growth of between 3% to 4%, compared with its August forecast for revenue growth in 2017 of 4% to 6%.

Shares of retailers Marks & Spencer Group PLC (MKS.LN) and Next PLC (NXT.LN) fell 1.2% and 0.5%, respectively, after the industry sales report. Kingfisher PLC (KGF.LN) lost 1.3%.

Sky PLC (SKY.LN) shares were down 1.4%. The move came after reports late Monday that 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOX) (FOX) recently held talks to sell its 39% stake in the broadcaster (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/disney-held-talks-to-buy-21st-century-fox-assets-2017-11-06) to Walt Disney Co. (DIS) , along with other assets.

Associated British Foods PLC (ABF.LN) fell 3.3%, even as the company posted better-than-expected yearly pretax profit. ABF said its 2017 earnings were boosted by sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ab-food-2017-profit-rises-boosted-by-primark-2017-11-07) at its fashion retail business, Primark.

Imperial Brands PLC (IMBBY) shares rose 2.3% after the tobacco giant said it plans a 10% rise in its final dividend (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/imperial-brands-2017-profit-rises-tops-forecasts-2017-11-07) and said its "growth brands" performed strongly during fiscal 2017.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 07, 2017 04:45 ET (09:45 GMT)