U.K. stocks advanced on Friday after official data showed U.K. retail sales recovered in February largely driven by non-food store sales.
Retail sales volume including auto fuel logged a monthly growth of 2.1 percent, in contrast to January’s 8.2 percent decrease. The pace of growth matched economists’ expectations.
On a yearly basis, retail sales fell at a slower pace of 3.7 percent after decreasing 5.9 percent in January. This was the second consecutive drop in sales and was better than the expected drop of -3.5 percent.
The benchmark FTSE 100 climbed 37 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,712 after losing 0.6 percent on Thursday.
Miners BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Antofagasta and Glencore surged 2-4 percent, helped by higher commodity prices.
Oil and gas company BP Plc gained 1.3 percent and Royal Dutch Shell added 1 percent as oil prices rebounded on the news that the Suez Canal may stay blocked for at least another week, squeezing global supply.
Engineering company Smiths Group jumped 5.2 percent after reporting better-than-expected interim profit and issuing upbeat forecast for the second half of the fiscal year.
Stagecoach Group rallied 2.5 percent. The transport group noted that since the interim results announcement, it has seen further positive cash flow (excluding movements in borrowings), and continues to have available liquidity of over 850 million pounds.
Oxford Instruments, a provider of technology and tools for research and industry, soared 14 percent. The company said that it expects revenues for fiscal 2020/21 to be marginally ahead of last year, inclusive of a small negative impact from currency effects.
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