UK retail sales declined more than expected in October, fueling concerns about consumer spending in the run-up to Christmas.
The FTSE 100 shook off the downbeat retail figures to edge higher in early trade on Friday, lifted by gains for AstraZeneca and oil majors. The UK blue-chip index opened up 50 points or 0.7% at 7,461.
According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales volumes dropped 2.7% year-on-year in October, a faster decline than the 1.5% fall forecast by economists. The data raises fears that rising interest rates are squeezing shoppers’ budgets ahead of the festive season.
AstraZeneca shares climbed 1.5% after its breast cancer drug Truqap was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Oil giants BP and Shell also rose despite falling crude prices.
In the FTSE 250, FirstGroup jumped 3.2% following its electric bus partnership with Hitachi. Record slumped 10% as its CEO announced retirement plans and the firm posted a 16% first half profit drop.
Jersey Oil & Gas surged 14% on news it will receive a $9.4 million payment related to redevelopment of the Buchan oil field.