THURSDAY MARKET CLOSE: Retail sales data helps lift the gloom

Official figures show a better-than-expected rise in retail sales volumes last month. Picture: PA
Official figures show a better-than-expected rise in retail sales volumes last month. Picture: PA
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Official figures showing a better-than-expected rise in retail sales volumes last month helped the London market amid continued uncertainty over the outcome of Greek debt talks.

However, Poundland was a notable faller on the FTSE 250 Index after it warned of a tough start to its new financial year. Shares in the discount chain ended the day 11p lower at 300.1p – a decline of 3.5 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics said that overall sales volumes edged up 0.2 per cent in May, a marked slowdown on the previous month, but economists took encouragement from longer-term data pointing to the longest period of sustained growth since consistent records began in June 1996.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said the figures were “supporting the fact that the short spell of deflation will prove to be over and with this, interest rate hikes will follow”.

The top-flight FTSE 100 Index, which hit a five-month low in the previous session, closed up 27.33 points at 6,707.88.

Water firm Severn Trent and private equity firm 3i Group were the heaviest blue-chip fallers after the stocks went ex-dividend, meaning investors are no longer entitled to the latest payout. Shares in the former dropped 61p to 2,058p, while the latter closed down 16.5p, or 3.1 per cent, at 517p.

Electronic components specialist Premier Farnell was top of the FTSE 250 fallers’ board, sliding 10.4p or 5.5 per cent to 179.3p after it said first-half adjusted operating profit was expected to be marginally below a year earlier. First-quarter sales rose 5.4 per cent, but gross margins were down 1.2 percentage points compared with the previous quarter.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Randgold Resources, up 119p at 4,546p, and Anglo American, which rose 25.1p to 990.7p.