Next was leading the risers today, buoyed by a report from the British Retail Consortium, which said despite overall poor sales clothing retailers had performed well in November, as well as Oriel Securities, which upped its rating on the stock to 'buy' from 'hold'. It said of the group: "The Directory is set to generate more than half of brand earnings before interest and tax this year, driven by operational improvements and strong sales growth. We believe UK cash and credit customer recruitment will remain strong and with international online sales set to double in the next two years, material upside remains."
To take into account, total online sales accounted for the bulk of the 0.6 per cent rise in November UK retail sales, the BRC survey out overnight also revealed.
Smith & Nephew jumped following an upgrade by Morgan Stanley to 'overweight' the previous day.
Betting firm William Hill climbed on the back of comments from broker UBS, which said today the online gambling industry is set to become "increasingly competitive" as it moves towards the introduction off the tax [in places that were previously exempt], with more TV advertising and free bets. The broker gave the stock a 'buy' rating with a target price of 450p, saying the company is "well placed to benefit from the UK recovery".
Sports Direct moved higher on the back of a target price increase from Liberum Capital to 850p.
Meanwhile, miners declined in line with metal prices and rather negative comments from UBS. The bank lowered its target price for Antofagasta from 870p to 845p, with a neutral rating, while Fresnillo was reduced from 1,150p to 1,100p.
"The UBS precious metals commodity team has revised down 2014 and 2015 gold and silver prices, seeing few positive catalysts medium-term, with QE-tapering to start in January, gold struggling to attract the safe-haven bid, and physical buying having limits," it said.
"We still prefer companies with low unit costs, good capital discipline and strong cash flow growth, with Rio and BHP our top picks. We lower Fresnillo earnings per share by 31%/18% in 2014/15 on lower prices. We maintain a 'buy' rating given its low cost position, strong balance sheet, and attractive volume growth. We cut Antofagasta's 2014 earnings per share estimate by 8% on lower gold credits. In our opinion, Antofagasta is a high quality producer, but we see downside risk to earnings per share."
Old Mutual fell after JPMorgan Chase & Co. reduced its target price on the stock to 223p from 228p, maintaining an 'overweight' rating.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Next (NXT) 5,540.00p +2.59%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 830.50p +2.15%
William Hill (WMH) 388.00p +1.84%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,735.00p +0.81%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 655.00p +0.69%
SSE (SSE) 1,329.00p +0.68%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 748.50p +0.67%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 781.00p +0.13%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 331.60p +0.06%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 78.61p +0.04%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Antofagasta (ANTO) 740.00p -5.19%
Old Mutual (OML) 188.20p -4.08%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,722.00p -3.31%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,025.00p -3.18%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,198.00p -2.84%
Fresnillo (FRES) 739.50p -2.70%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 283.00p -2.65%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 331.50p -2.56%
Rexam (REX) 486.70p -2.46%
CRH (CRH) 1,503.00p -2.34%