The FTSE was flat on Thursday as miners helped offset a heavy fall in Marks & Spencer shares
and other retailers who piled in with gloomy trading updates.
Marks & Spencer said UK like-for-like sales fell 1.4%. Over the 13 weeks to 30 December, M&S food LFL sales fell 0.4% in what the group blamed on "ongoing trading pressures continued in the lead up to Christmas as consumer spending and choices reflected tighter budgets", though other supermarket groups seemed to do a lot better.
Tesco fell after its sales for the Christmas period missed City forecasts. For the 13 weeks to 25 November, Britain's largest grocery group increased like-for-like sales 2.3% in the UK and Ireland, and then for the six-week festive trading period to 6 January, saw LFL growth of 2.0%. This was a fairly strong performance, but expectations were for 2.4% growth in the third quarter and 2.8% for Christmas.
Away from the retail sector, housebuilder Barratt Developments was weaker after saying total completions improved in the first half of the year, but sales rates remained flat. Peers Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon also fell.
IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said Barratt's "protestations about how things have much improved over the past five years cut little ice with a market that is forward-looking, and already the models are being downgraded to anticipate weaker growth in the year ahead".
A weak pound and higher copper prices helped boost miners, who benefit because they trade in dollars.
Anglo American led the charge, receiving an added lift from a Morgan Stanley upgrade.
Bunzl rose after saying it expects US tax changes to have a positive impact from this year and announcing acquisitions in the UK and the US.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,753.79 0.07%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 20,736.96 -0.11%
techMARK (TASX) 3,513.68 0.12%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Just Eat (JE.) 799.60p 4.17%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,520.00p 2.77%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,746.40p 2.71%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,058.00p 2.64%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 2,088.00p 1.70%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 5,048.00p 1.67%
National Grid (NG.) 849.50p 1.31%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 69.88p 1.30%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,027.50p 1.28%
BAE Systems (BA.) 585.20p 1.28%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 302.90p -6.51%
Tesco (TSCO) 203.30p -4.06%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 613.40p -3.28%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 225.96p -2.86%
Barclays (BARC) 196.56p -2.31%
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 196.00p -2.10%
Whitbread (WTB) 3,820.00p -2.05%
Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,132.00p -1.97%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 604.80p -1.82%
St James's Place (STJ) 1,237.50p -1.59%