* FTSE 100 up 0.8 pct, rises for 5th straight session
* Retail stocks buoyed by strong UK retail sales
* FTSE could hit 6,900 over coming month -APS Alpha’s Slack
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Britain’s top equity index rose for a fifth straight session on Tuesday, boosted by retailers after data showed a rebound in UK retail sales last month.
Several traders said next month’s outlook for the UK stock market was positive, as signs of a strengthening in Britain’s economy should help it recover from a fall at the start of the year due to weakening emerging markets.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up by around 0.8 percent, or 54.26 points, at 6,645.81 points in mid-session trading, marking the index’s fifth straight day of gains.
“I’m expecting further upside, and we should be able to test 6,900 points in the coming month,” said Adrian Slack, technical strategist at London-based firm APS Alpha.
Retailers dominated the FTSE’s leaderboard of top-performing stocks, after a monthly industry survey showed British retail sales rebounded after a weak December to record their strongest annual growth since April 2011.
Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, described the UK retail sales figures as superb.
Sportswear retailer Sports Direct (Frankfurt: A0MK5S – news) rose 3.9 percent, clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer (Other OTC: MAKSF – news) gained 3.4 percent while home improvements company Kingfisher (Frankfurt: KFI1.F – news) progressed by 2.9 percent.
The FTSE 100 rose 14.4 percent in 2013 to post its best annual gain since 2009, but the index has declined 1.5 percent since the start of 2014 as global equity markets fell on political and economic concerns in emerging markets.
However, APS Alpha’s Slack said he would use any pullback on the market to buy up equity positions, given his expectations the FTSE 100 could hit a record level of 7,000 points during the second quarter of this year.
“We’re still looking to buy on the dip,” he said.