FTSE up after M&S sales surprise boosts retailers

* FTSE up 0.1 percent

* Retailers spurred by M&S sales beating forecast

* Miners higher as gold holds near highs

By David Brett

LONDON, April 6 (Reuters) – Retailers helped Britain’s top
share index higher on Wednesday after Marks & Spencer (MKS.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
beat sales forecasts, while TUI Travel (TT.L: Quote, Profile, Research) rose after an
upgrade from Citigroup.

Marks & Spencer climbed 3.9 percent, leading Britain’s
beleaguered retail sector higher after saying in a trading
update it had not seen a major deterioration in consumer
confidence recently.

Next (NXT.L: Quote, Profile, Research) up 3 percent, and Burberry (BRBY.L: Quote, Profile, Research) up 1.7
percent, rose along with Britain’s biggest clothing retailer.

Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research) was up a more modest 0.4 percent after
Liberum cut its rating to “hold” from “buy” ahead of results due
on April 19, saying the world’s third-biggest retailer and rival
Sainsbury (SBRY.L: Quote, Profile, Research) look most exposed to stagflation in euro zone
markets.

Separately, Citigroup said of Tesco: “Given the recent UK
trading slowdown, another year of lacklustre cash flow progress
looks probable. There would appear to be no room for upgrades to
consensus earnings per share expectations”.

The FTSE 100 (.FTSE: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 6.98 points, or 0.1 percent, at
6,014.04 by 0811 GMT, having closed down 0.2 percent on Tuesday,
in cautious trade ahead of policy decisions from the Bank of
England and Eurpean Central Bank on Thursday. [ID:nTOPNOW1]

“Although the close was slightly lower (on Tuesday), the
chart pattern still suggests that traders have a bias to the
upside although they continue to remain reluctant to buy
strength,” Autochartist analyst James Hyerczyk said.

He said the main uptrend was 5,879.90 to 6,035.12, adding a
close on Friday under 6,009.92 would form a closing price
reversal top and signal the start of a potential break to
5,795.00 and 5,660.00.

HAVE UPGRADE WILL TRAVEL

TUI Travel rose 2.8 percent after Citigroup raised its
rating on the tour operator to “hold” from “sell”, while FTSE
250 (.FTMC: Quote, Profile, Research) peer Thomas Cook (TCG.L: Quote, Profile, Research) climbed 3.5 percent as its
rating was raised to “buy” from “hold”.

“Both stocks have fallen sharply in the last two months on
the back of disruption to their Egypt and Tunisia programs,
concerns about weak consumer confidence in the UK and a strong
oil price. As a result we think that valuations now look
attractive,” Citigroup said.

Miners (.FTNMX1770: Quote, Profile, Research) and energy (.FTNMX0530: Quote, Profile, Research) stocks were the
main supports for the FTSE 100, rising with commodity prices as
Brent crude (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) hovered near multi-year highs on unrest in
the Arab world and gold remained close to its high around
$1,458.80 as investors bought into its safe haven qualities on
worries over inflation and a weaker dollar.

Miner Vedanta (VED.L: Quote, Profile, Research) added 2.4 percent as it took a step
closer to its purchase of Cairn’s (CNE.L: Quote, Profile, Research) Indian assets.

Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa announced receipt of clearance
from Indian regulator SEBI to send offer letters Cairn India
shareholders and proceed with the open offer of up to 20 percent
of Cairn India. The takeover remains conditional on Indian
government consent.

Banks (.FTNMX8350: Quote, Profile, Research) were subdued. Euro zone debt worries
continue to hamper the sector as Moody’s cut the credit ratings
of seven Portuguese banks, sending the country’s bond yields
above 9 percent.

Minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s March 15 meeting
revealed members were less hawkish than investors first feared,
with the central bank seemingly intent on completing a $600
billion bond-buying plan despite signs of a stronger economy.
[ID:nFEDAHEAD]

Ex-dividend factors knocked 0.96 point off the FTSE 100 on
Wednesday, with Pearson (PSON.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and Wolseley (WOS.L: Quote, Profile, Research) trading
without their payout attractions.
(Editing by Dan Lalor)

FTSE up after M&S sales surprise boosts retailers