Business

FTSE edges higher but gloomy Next outlook hits retailers

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(Close): Shares in Next slumped after the retailer reported falling sales and issued a gloomy outlook for next year.

Its shares dived more than 14% after it said sales fell 0.4% in the run-up to Christmas and added full-year profits would be at the low end of forecasts.

Next also warned that 2017 would be "another challenging year", and predicted a fall in profits.

The news hit shares in other retailers, with M&S down 6.1% and Primark owner Associated British Foods dropping 3.7%.

The falls weighed on the FTSE 100. The UK's benchmark index had closed at a record high on Tuesday, but spent most of the day in negative territory. However, at the close it was up 11.85 points to another record high at 7,189.74.

Shares in housebuilders helped to bolster the index after upbeat comments from Deutsche Bank. Barratt Developments rose 4%, while Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey were 2.8% and 3.8% higher respectively.

In the FTSE 250, B&M shares rose nearly 9.5% after the discount retailer reported a 7.2% increase in UK like-for-like sales in the three months to 24 December.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.45% against the dollar to $1.2293 and slipped 0.29% against the euro to €1.1727.

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