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[LONDON] Britain's FTSE 100 blue-chip index hit fresh record highs on Tuesday, boosted by gains among retailers, while a rally in mining stocks more than offset weaker financials, helping European shares end slightly in positive territory.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index inched up 0.1 per cent, while the FTSE 100 rose 0.5 per cent after hitting a new all-time high of 7,284.81 points. France's CAC 40 was flat and Germany's DAX added 0.2 per cent.
Retail was heavily in focus. Morrisons was among the top gainers in London after Christmas trading results exceeded expectations. Its shares ended up 3.6 per cent in heavy volumes.
Britain's largest retailer, Tesco, rose 6 per cent after market research showed it had the fastest sales growth of the country's four major players.
Metro underperformed its UK peers with a flat close after the German discount retailer reported sluggish festive sales.
Mining and metal stocks were the top performers, up 3.3 per cent, extending their recent gains. The top risers were Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton , which tracked the price of copper higher.
NOT FAST ENOUGH
The fast food delivery company Just Eat was the top faller on the STOXX, down 6.9 per cent, after reporting full-year order growth of 42 per cent but failing to beat its estimates.
"With a stock trading on such a lofty valuation, the market has grown to expect the company to exceed its estimates, so there's a little bit of disappointment," said Michael Stewart, analyst at Panmure Gordon Equities. "It highlights the expectation that these companies can go on upgrading forever. We believe the investment case is intact, especially if the acquisition of Hungry House goes ahead."
The insurance and banking sectoral indexes fell 0.6 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively, with Commerzbank down 0.7 per cent on a UBS downgrade to "sell", and Deutsche Bank down 2.4 per cent.
In Lisbon, Banco Commercial Portugues fell 11.3 per cent to a fresh record low after the bank approved a heavily dilutive 1.3 billion euros (S$1.97 billion) cash call to boost its capital position.
Spain's Banco Popular led the Madrid IBEX lower, falling 2.7 per cent.