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FTSE 100 rises on miners boost, midcaps hit record high

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FTSE 100 falls on stronger pound, weak oil stocks; Babcock jumps

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 edged higher on Thursday, boosted by gains in heavyweight mining and consumer staple stocks, while a jump in shares of Travis Perkins on higher quarterly sales growth pushed the midcap index to a record high.

The blue-chip index rose 0.4%, with shares of British gambling group Entain gaining 1.9% after its quarterly online net revenue leapt by 33% even as shop closures dragged its total net gaming revenue.

Miners added 1.2%, providing the biggest boost to the index as they tracked higher metal prices. [MET/L]

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index climbed 0.3% to touch 22,426.87 after Britain's biggest building materials seller said its first quarter like-for-like sales (excluding Wickes) grew 17.4%. Its shares rose 2.6%.

The index was also supported by gains in travel and leisure and homebuilding stocks.

"Investors are buying these sectors to play the reopening trade and a general recovery in interest for UK stocks after a long period of being in the doldrums," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

The FTSE 100 has gained nearly 8% so far this year on optimism Brexit-related underperformance was behind, and speedy vaccine rollouts and policy support from government would fuel a stronger economic re-opening from the pandemic-driven crash.

Globally, Asian markets slipped, dragged down by Chinese stocks on fears of monetary policy tightening, while investors awaited a reading on U.S. March retail sales data to gauge the pace of recovery in the world's largest economy. [MKTS/GLOB]

"U.S. retail sales for March are the day's highlight. It is unwise to ever bet against the hedonism of the U.S. consumer â€" and in March, the U.S. consumer was further fuelled by checks from the government," said Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management in a note.

Among other stocks, home improvement retailer Kingfisher advanced 1.9% after Citigroup upgraded it to "neutral" from "sell".

Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser Group and Diageo gained between 0.5% and 1.7% after HSBC raised its price targets on the stocks.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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