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U.K. stocks notch modest gain as retailers rise

U.K. stocks edged higher Tuesday, on track for a fourth consecutive gain, as retail shares rose and as the pound continued to drift lower, aiding shares of exporters.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.2% at 6,820.93, with all but the mining and basic materials sectors moving higher. The blue-chip gauge on Monday rose 0.2% to 6,809.13, its best close since June 2015, according to FactSet data.

Retail shares were mostly higher after the British Retail Consortium said U.K. retail sales rose 1.1% in July, signaling consumers responded to promotions following the U.K.’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union.

Stock in department store chain Marks & Spencer Group PLC picked up 1.4%, clothing retailer Next PLC gained 0.4%, and supermarket chain Tesco PLC added 1.4%.

Economic health and pound: The market may be swayed later by economic data due in mid-morning trade. U.K. industrial production and trade figures for June are due at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The pound was lower against the dollar before the economic readings, buying $1.2987, compared with $1.3037 late Monday in New York.

A decline in the pound’s value has been helpful for shares of many exporters, whose products become less expensive to buy for holders of other currencies. Shares of bottler Coca-Cola HBC AG added 0.8%, retailer and sugar producer Associated British Foods PLC gained 1%, and liquor maker Diageo PLC tacked on 0.6%.

Movers: Topping the index was Worldpay Group PLC. The payments processing technology company’s shares were up 4.1% after it posted a rise in first-half profit. It also declared a first dividend of 0.65 pence.

Shares of Smiths Group PLC gained 3.2% after the technology company said revenue for the year ended July 31 is expected to be above expectations.

Standard Life PLC shares rose 2.7% after the financial services provider posted an 18% rise in underlying first-half operating profit, beating market expectations. But the company said it foresees high uncertainty in the near future after the Brexit vote.

Barclays PLC shares were down 0.7%. The lender agreed to pay $100 million to end investigations by 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia into its alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate benchmark in the mid-2000s, authorities said on Monday.

Source: MarketWatch

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