Industrials, Inchcape help British mid-caps outperform European peers

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the London Stock Exchange Group offices in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File photo

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) – London’s edged higher on Friday, helped by gains in industrial stocks and Inchcape, while data showed retail sales fell in May as Britons dined out more following a lifting of pandemic restrictions.

The domestically focused mid-cap index advanced 0.2% after three straight sessions of falls and outperformed the blue-chip FTSE 100 and pan-European .

Among industrials, Rotork (LON:) Plc climbed 2.3% and was one of the biggest gainers after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) upgraded the stock to “overweight”.

Inchcape jumped 3.8% to the top of the index after the car dealership said its current-year earnings would beat market estimates.

The fell 0.4%, dragged down by heavyweight oil majors BP (LON:) and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:), and life insurers.

British retail sales fell unexpectedly by 1.4% last month as a lifting of lockdown restrictions encouraged spending in restaurants rather than shops, with food stores suffering the biggest hit.

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco (LON:) also reported a sharp slowdown in underlying UK sales growth in its first quarter, sending its shares down 1.8%.

Shares of rivals Sainsbury and Morrisons also slipped.

“Consumer spending is likely to help drive GDP back close to, or maybe even back to, pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of the year,” said James Smith, developed markets economist at ING.

“The potential challenge for retailers over the next few months is maintaining the level of spending as consumers resume spending on services that have been shuttered for the past few months.”

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After the U.S. Federal Reserve’s hawkish turn this week, all eyes are now on the Bank of England’s meeting next week where it is expected to look through the temporary rise in inflation.

Among other stocks, EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air gained more than 1.5% each after HSBC raised its price targets on border re-opening momentum.

Kin and Carta rose 1.2% after Dutch insurer Aegon NV disclosed a 5.24% stake in the digital transformation services company.

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