The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.3%, with banking shares gaining after a series of brokerage upgrades and price target hikes.
Asia-focused banks HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered jumped 1.8% and 0.5%, respectively, after Barclays raised price targets on the stocks. RBC also upgraded HSBC to “outperform” from “sector perform”.
However, gains on the FTSE 100 were capped by miners Rio Tinto and Anglo American, which slipped 2.7% and 3.6% after Morgan Stanley cut its price targets on the stocks.
The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index advanced 0.5%.
British retail sales dropped 0.9% on the month in August versus a Reuters poll for a rise of 0.5%, after data earlier this week pointed towards a sharp recovery in the jobs market and a spike in inflation.
Investor focus will now be on the outcome of Bank of England’s (BoE) policy meeting next week.
“Next week’s policy decision should reaffirm that some tightening will be needed over the next few years to keep inflation (and the economy) in check. But we don’t expect the BoE to conclude that there is a sufficient case yet for near-term rate hikes,” Deutsche Bank economist Sanjay Raja said.
Airlines Wizz Air, Ryanair Holdings and British Airways owner IAG, and holiday company TUI AG rose between 1.2% and 4.7%, as Britain was set to consider easing its COVID-19 rules for international travel.
“The hope will be that a shift in the rules is the precursor to people jetting off for autumn and winter getaways,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
Wickes Group jumped 5.6% to the top of FTSE 250 index after Deutsche upgraded the DIY retailer to “buy” from “hold”.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Shounak Dasgupta)