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'Black Friday' helps push FTSE higher

Retailers enjoyed a strong run as America's "Black Friday" rush brought the industry into focus, helping the FTSE 100 Index close its strongest week of the year.

London's leading share index was 28.1 points higher at 5819.1 as optimism over the start of the US holiday shopping season, known as Black Friday because it signals the period in which many retailers turn profitable, filtered across the Atlantic.

The FTSE 100 has seen the biggest rise in points this week – 213.6 – since the week ending December 2 last year, gaining £54.1 billion in value.

The US market was ahead in early trading as the upbeat sentiment helped offset fears over the EU budget and ongoing Greek bailout negotiations.

The pound was down against the euro at 1.23 after a business conditions survey in Germany revealed an improvement last month, while the pound was up against the US dollar at 1.60.

In London, B&Q parent Kingfisher, which updates on trading next week, rose 3.7p to 280.7p, Marks & Spencer added 2.7p to 380.7p, while Argos parent Home Retail Group moved 2.8p higher to 109.7p in the FTSE 250 Index.

Morrisons shares fell after broker Nomura downgraded prospects for European supermarkets. It cut its stance from bullish to neutral owing to low or no volume growth, margin pressure and weak balance sheets in the sector.

Morrisons shares dropped 1.7p to 261.7p taking it to second on the fallers board. Sainsbury's and Tesco had also suffered share falls earlier, but recovered to stand 1.2p higher at 333.6p and 0.7p up at 318p respectively.

Brewer SABMiller continued rising after having its price target nudged higher by different brokers. The group, which owns Miller Lite, Grolsch and Peroni, reported a 12% hike in half-year profits. Shares were 33p ahead at 2834p. Magazine publisher Future lifted 9% or 1.5p to 18.8p after upbeat annual results revealed the fruits of an overhaul to reposition itself as a digital media group.

Future, which publishes magazines such as Total Film and T3, posted a 68% leap in annual earnings to £6.9m and said its embattled US arm would return to profit next year.

Shares in London Pride brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner were also up after it toasted an Olympics sales hike.

The group said guests checking in for London 2012 saw sales from accommodation at its pubs and hotels jump 10.8% in the half-year, helping underlying pre-tax profits rise 4% to £17.1m in the six months to September 29. Its shares were up 24p to 750p.

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