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Commodity-linked stocks push FTSE 100 higher; retailers slide

Commodity-linked stocks push FTSE 100 higher; retailers slide 1

By Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 rose on Thursday, as gains in commodity stocks outweighed losses in retailers such as Tesco, while investors globally awaited U.S. data to see if inflation has slowed further.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 0.6% to hover near a more than four-year high scaled on Wednesday, while the more domestically focused FTSE 250 mid-cap index rose 0.9%.

Retailers Tesco and Marks & Spencer slipped between 0.3% and 1.6% despite strong sales, as both companies warned of inflationary pressures.

Financial stocks were among the top gainers on the FTSE 100, with banks like HSBC and Barclays rising 0.9% and 1.4%, respectively.

“Given some of the trading updates that we have seen, along with lower energy prices, it is slightly more positive and, therefore, there is less likelihood that the banks will see credit losses,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Positive earnings results from hotel operator Whitbread and pub operator Mitchells & Butlers helped the travel and leisure index gain 1.7%.

Investors keenly awaited the U.S. inflation print due later in the day, a critical pit stop before the Federal Reserve’s February rate-hike decision.

The data due at 1330 GMT (0830 ET) is expected to show U.S. inflation easing month-over-month that could sway the Fed shifting to smaller rate hikes after aggressive tightening all through last year.

The FTSE 100 has had a bright start to the year so far, rising in almost every session. Last year, it had outperformed major global peers on the back of a rally in commodity prices.

Centrica climbed to the top of FTSE 100, jumping 6.1% after the British Gas owner raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Halfords slumped 22% after the motoring and cycling parts retailer trimmed its annual profit outlook.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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