LONDON: The FTSE 100 index of Britain’s leading shares rose 0.5 percent to hit a six-year high on Tuesday, buoyed by food retailers and banks but weighed on by oil stocks after BP posted results.
Investors also awaited the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee interest rate decision due on Thursday, with most analysts predicting the base rate would remain at 5.25 percent following January’s surprise 0.25-percentage-point hike.
In the banking sector, HBOS added 1.6 percent, Barclays was up 1.2 percent, Royal Bank of Scotland tacked on 1.1 percent and Lloyds TSB climbed 1.6 percent after the latter benefited from a Credit Suisse upgrade.
“We’re at another high and all is apparently well with the world,” said Jeremy Batstone, head of research at Charles Stanley.
Retailers also supported the upside, after British retail sales enjoyed their strongest January for three years, with growth accelerating at the fastest pace since July, a British Retail Consortium survey showed, suggesting higher borrowing costs have yet to damage demand.
Britain’s largest retailer Tesco added 2.3 percent and WM Morrison Supermarkets climbed 3 percent after UBS increased the latter’s price target to 360 pence from 340 pence, traders said.
On the other hand, oil heavyweight BP weighed on the FTSE 100, down 2.1 percent after it slashed its growth targets and raised spending plans as it reported a less than expected fall in fourth-quarter profits. Rival Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.1 percent.