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Next stock up as retailer enjoys sales jump

Fashion chain Next caught the eye of investors as a £25 million profits upgrade following better-than-expected sales helped shares lift nearly three per cent.

Its well-received trading update saw the group perform as one of the top climbers on a FTSE 100 risers' board led by engineer GKN. The FTSE 100 Index added 19.7 points to 6807.8.

With little new economic data to move traders sterling held steady against the US dollar, at 1.69, and against the euro, at 1.26.

Next said sales for the first half to July 26 were 10.7 per cent ahead.

Investec analyst Alistair Davies said the figures highlighted the "strong form the business finds itself in", benefiting from market share gains across categories and strong full-price sales helping profit margins.

Next shares lifted 170p to 6690p, while fellow high street giant M&S, which Next has pulled ahead of in profit terms, edged up 0.9p to 438p.

Car production and aircraft parts supplier GKN jumped nearly seven per cent to the top of the risers board after it reported a 76 per cent rise in half-year profits to £224 million, despite the impact of a strong pound

GKN chief executive Nigel Stein said: "We have continued to outperform our key markets and report good underlying financial results in spite of sterling's strength."

Numis analyst David Larkam said shares were trading at a discount to the sector and looked attractive, upgrading them to a buy rating. The stock rose 22.9p to 366p.

Oil giant BP fell 2.5 per cent%, or 12.6p, to 484.3p after warning over the impact that further sanctions on Russia could have on the business.

Profits rose by a third in the quarter to June 30, with much of the improvement due to its 20% stake in Rosneft, which is Russia's largest oil producer.

BP said a fresh squeeze from the international community amid tensions over Ukraine could have a "material adverse impact" on the Rosneft investment, its business in Russia, and its own financial position.

Elsewhere, embattled supermarket Morssions added 2.2p to 174.5p after it announced the appointment of former Tesco finance director Andrew Higginson as its new chairman.

Analysts at Shore Capital said he brought a "wealth of experience and talent" to the troubled group but retail expert Nick Bubb suggested it could spell uncertainty for chief executive Dalton Philips, amid sliding sales and tumbling profits.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were GKN up 22.9p at 366p, Next up 170p at 6690p, Coca-Cole HBC up 32p at 1414p and Hammerson up 12.5p at 608p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were easyJet down 40p at 1304p, BP down 12.6p at 484.3p,St James's Place down 19p at 771p and BSkyB down 14.5p at 890p.

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