By Ben Eisen, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- A strong performance by retail stocks helped push the FTSE 100 higher Friday, as the benchmark index celebrated its 30th anniversary.
The FTSE 100 rose 0.3% to 6,739. Stocks gained across Europe, with the STOXX Europe 600 index up 1 point, or 0.4%, at 327.27.
Retailers were some of the biggest U.K. movers, with clothing store Next PLC gaining over 9% after it raised its full-year pretax profit forecast.
Marks & Spencer Group PLC gained 4.4%. Sports Direct International PLC was up 1.1%.
Department-store firm Debenhams PLC rallied 4% after the firm said Chief Financial Officer Simon Herrick would resign. Earlier in the week, the firm warned that its profits may not meet expectations following a weak holiday season, according to news reports.
Data released Friday underscored continued improvement in the housing sector. Home prices rose 1.4% in December to their highest levels in over five-and-a-half years. U.K. mortgage approvals in November also rose to a five-year high. The U.K. construction sector expanded for its eighth straight month in November.
Meanwhile, retailer House of Fraser was said to be preparing an initial public offering.
The FTSE 100 became the benchmark index of choice to track the London Stock Exchange on January 3, 1984, according to The Guardian. It replaced the FTSE 30. The index has witnessed substantial change during its tenure, with only 19 of the original companies remaining on the index.
More from MarketWatch:
European stocks edge up.
Anti-EU parties target gains in EU Parliament.
Spanish jobless claims fall sharply in December.
-Ben Eisen; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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01-03-14 0820ETCopyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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