By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — U.K. stocks climbed to a record high Wednesday, with the benchmark FTSE 100 extending its reach with help from gains in apparel retailers Next PLC and Burberry PLC.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.31% rose 0.3% to 7,096.78, knocking down the previous record close of 7,089.77 notched on April 10.
The blue-chip benchmark rode higher alongside the Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.78% , which also closed at a record, as European Central Bank head Mario Draghi issued an upbeat take on how its bond-buying program has been running since the launch last month. U.K. equities have also been bolstered as a result of the ECB’s quantitative-easing program, analysts have said.
Retail stocks were among the best performing in London trade. Next /zigman2/quotes/200704121/delayed UK:NXT -0.32% shares picked up 2.5% after J.P. Morgan Cazenove raised its rating on the fashion retailer to overweight from neutral. It said it sees scope for Next to recover some of its recent underperformance between now and its interim update on April 29.
Burberry PLC /zigman2/quotes/205386705/delayed UK:BRBY +0.81% also jumped 2.5% following its report of 9% growth in same-store sales for the second half. But the luxury-goods retailer also reported low-single-digit sales growth in Asia Pacific, “with further deceleration in Hong Kong.”
Meanwhile, Dixons Carphone PLC gained 2% after the company agreed to sell its German mobile business, The Phone House Deutschland, to Drillisch AG, a mobile virtual network operator.
Topping the FTSE 100 was Sports Direct International PLC , higher by 3.8% after rival JD Sports raised its dividend and, for the first time, posted full-year profit of more than £100 million.
In the mining group, shares of Fresnillo PLC /zigman2/quotes/201300065/delayed UK:FRES -3.15% rose 2.5% after the precious metals miner posted growth of nearly 19% in silver production, and a 62% increase in gold output for the first quarter. It also said it’s still on track to boost output this year.
But decliners were paced by Bunzl PLC /zigman2/quotes/201880362/delayed UK:BNZL -2.16% , with shares down 2.6%. The company, which distributes business supplies, said it’s agreed to purchase a business in Turkey and has completed acquisitions in Canada and the Netherlands.