LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Ends Higher, Helped By Marks And Spencer's Gain After Earnings

By Carla Mozee and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Miners rise despite a slowdown in growth of Chinese imports, exports

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U.K. stocks closed with a modest gain Wednesday, as Marks and Spencer Group PLC shares rose after the big retail chain's results and as miners gained despite a downbeat reading on Chinese trade.

What markets are doing: The FTSE 100 index fell 0.2% to finish at 7,529.72, erasing part of Tuesday's 0.7% drop (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fall-for-retailers-keeps-ftse-100-in-check-2017-11-07) and edging back toward Monday's record close at 7,562.28.

Meanwhile, the pound fell below $1.31 during the session on speculation that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May may lose a member of her cabinet, which would be the second cabinet loss within a week. Priti Patel, who serves at the U.K.'s international development secretary, was expected Wednesday to be dismissed by May because of undisclosed meetings she held with Israeli officials, according to local media reports.

Sterling was recently at $1.3110, down from $1.3168 late Tuesday.

On Thursday, Brexit negotiation talks were slated to resume.

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What's moving markets: Retail stocks were notable movers, with Marks and Spencer finishing higher after a choppy session. They had fallen in the prior session after a disappointing reading on retail sales and as Barclays figures showed a slowdown in consumer spending.

Read:Weak British retail sales flash 'warning sign' for crucial shopping season (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/weak-british-retail-sales-flash-warning-sign-for-crucial-shopping-season-2017-11-07)

Meanwhile, mining shares gained even after Chinese trade data showed exports and imports grew slower than expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-trade-surplus-widens-in-october-2017-11-08) in October. China's manufacturing industry is a key buyer of industrial and precious metals.

"China is making a concerted effort to move towards a more service-focused economy. That being said, their demand for minerals is still a major driver of commodity prices and mining companies," said David Madden, CMC Markets analyst, in a note.

M&S pulls on retailers: Marks and Spencer shares (MKS.LN) closed up 1.6%. The retail chain reported a fall in adjusted profit (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/marks-spencer-profit-falls-on-clothing-sales-2017-11-08) that topped forecasts. But the company said it was pulling back on its plans for new Simply Food stores (http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/documents/reports-results-and-publications/press-releases/201718/half-year-results-for-26-weeks-to-30-september-2017.pdf).

"The headwinds facing our food business have intensified as competitors have encroached on some of our space with the rapid growth of convenience," said M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe in a statement.

While M&S has been working to sort out poor performance in its clothing and home departments, until now, the food business has been seen as steady.

"Food-store expansion is being scaled back a touch now, which may disappoint investors since food has been the bright spot for a while," Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said in a note.

Among other retailers, Next PLC (NXT.LN) shares gained 0.8%, while Kingfisher PLC (KGF.LN) shares rose 1.1%. But shares in Associated British Foods PLC (ABF.LN) , which runs fast-fashion company Primark, were down 3.5%.

Stock movers: In the mining group, Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) rose 1.6%, Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) (RIO) (RIO) gained 1.1%, and Randgold Resources PLC (RRS.LN) was up 1.2%. But Antofagasta PLC (ANTO.LN) was down 1.1%.

Persimmon PLC (PSN.LN) fell 3.6%. The home builder said total sales per site since reporting its half-year results were in line with the year-ago period. Forward sales beyond 2017 were up 10% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/persimmon-forward-sales-up-10-2017-11-08), the company said.

Shares in SSE PLC (SSE.LN) closed down 0.9% after the company said it has made an agreement (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sse-innogy-agree-to-merge-two-uk-retail-units-2017-11-08) with Innogy (IGY.XE) to merge two of their U.K. retail energy units, as it reported a fall in first-half profit for fiscal 2018.

GKN PLC shares (GKN.LN) rose 1.5% following a Sky News report (http://news.sky.com/story/gkn-plots-aerospace-tie-up-with-state-owned-chinese-group-comac-11118436) that the engineering company is set to create a joint venture with state-owned Chinese aerospace company Comac.

Off the FTSE 100, Wizz Air Holdings PLC (WIZZ.LN) tumbled 9.3% as analysts said the airline's latest results raised questions about costs, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 08, 2017 12:22 ET (17:22 GMT)