Banks, miners lift UK blue-chip stocks; retail drags

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(Reuters) – UK’s blue-chip index hit fresh 20-month highs on Thursday, led by banking and mining stocks, although a slew of disappointing updates from retailers cast gloom on the sector.

Luxury brand Burberry slumped 9.1% after it said sales in regions such as Europe remained under pressure from reduced tourist levels, but exceeded quarterly profit expectations.

British discount retailer B&M dropped 6.6% after posting lower first-half core earnings.

However, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.3% by 0834 GMT helped by China-exposed mining stocks, as cash-strapped developer China Evergrande Group averted a destabilising default at the last minute for the third time in the past month.

Oil major BP fell 0.9% after it and Norway’s Aker jointly sold a 5% stake in Norwegian oil firm Aker BP, cutting their combined holding in the company to 65%.

Data showed Britain’s economy grew by 0.6% in September, beating estimates and gaining some steam at the end of the third quarter, but estimates for previous months were revised lower.

Another big decliner was Johnson Matthey which fell 13.6% after announcing plans to exit its battery materials business, warning on annual results and announcing the departure of Chief Executive Officer Robert MacLeod.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)



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