By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
U.K. stocks advanced for a fourth session Wednesday aided by gains for miners and supermarkets while rising oil prices lifted energy shares.
The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.25% closed up 0.3% at 6,301.5, having darted between small gains and losses throughout the session. On Tuesday, the index rose 0.2%, but finished off session highs as mining stocks turned lower.
Shares of energy majors were higher as oil prices /zigman2/quotes/209725580/delayed CLQ26 -2.74% pushed further above $50 a barrel. Brent crude trading in London was above $52 a barrel. BP PLC climbed 0.9%, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC bounced 2.5% higher.
Mining shares pushed higher Wednesday after data showed declines in Chinese imports and exports in May weren’t as steep as expected. Copper miner Fresnillo PLC /zigman2/quotes/201300065/delayed UK:FRES -2.65% rose 4.2%, Glencore PLC /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN +0.18% added 4.1%, and Anglo American PLC /zigman2/quotes/201381512/delayed UK:AAL -1.03% rallied on 4.8%.
Iron ore heavyweights BHP Billiton PLC /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.30% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +0.57% and Rio Tinto PLC /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +0.43% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.85% /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +1.57% sloughed off earlier losses and closed up 2.4% and 1.3%, respectively.
Among the decliners, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC fell 1.9%, and broadcaster Sky PLC shed 0.2%.
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Retail updates : Investors in J Sainsbury PLC /zigman2/quotes/206038250/delayed UK:SBRY +4.08% appeared to take in stride the company's latest sales update. The supermarket operator said its same-store sales in the first three months of fiscal 2017 fell by 0.8%, excluding fuel. Shares ended higher by 1.6%.
“Market conditions remain challenging. Food price deflation continues to impact our sales, and pressures on pricing mean the market will remain competitive for the foreseeable future,” Chief Executive Mike Coupe said in a statement.
Shares of supermarket rival Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC closed 0.3 higher, while Tesco PLC /zigman2/quotes/203761082/delayed UK:TSCO +0.28% tacked on 2.4%. Sky News reported late Tuesday that Tesco is preparing to sell its Kipa chain in Turkey and its Giraffe restaurants in the U.K.
Meanwhile, WH Smith PLC shares /zigman2/quotes/201823422/delayed UK:SMWH +0.22% were down 4% after the books and stationary retailer posted flat like-for-like sales growth for the group . The company said it remains confident in the outcome for the full year.
Economic docket: The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0405% was little changed, buying $1.4533, after U.K. industrial production confounded expectations by expanding 2% in April, the fastest monthly pace in nearly four years. The pound late Tuesday traded around $1.4546.