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London stocks inch lower after strong retail sales data; PMI figures loom

By Thomson Reuters Jun 21, 2024 | 2:25 AM

(Reuters) – London’s FTSE opened slightly lower on Friday after a hot reading of British retail sales data, but was set to log a weekly gain for the first time in six weeks.

The benchmark FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower by 7:10 GMT while the mid-cap FTSE 250 gained 0.1%, and was on track to log its first weekly gain in four.

British retail sales volumes rose by 2.9% in May, rebounding sharply from a revised 1.8% decline in April. Economists’ poll had forecast sales volumes would increase by 1.5%.

The data highlighted the resilience of the British consumer, prompting traders to remain on the sidelines and await the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figures due later in the day.

However, investor sentiment in Britain is gradually brightening after comments from the Bank of England on Thursday brought an August rate cut into play. Markets are pricing in a 50-50 chance for an August cut.

Among individual stocks, United Utilities gained 2.1% after J.P.Morgan upgraded the stock to “overweight” from “neutral”.

Britvic surged 15.2% after the soft drinks maker rejected a revised, unsolicited, possible cash offer from Carlsberg Group.

(Reporting by Pranav Kashyap in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)