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UK's FTSE 100 hits record peak; Associated British Foods surges

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Associated British Foods jumps after forecasting growth

JD Sports Fashion to buy US rival Hibbett; shares up

FTSE 100 adds 0.3%, FTSE 250 up 1.0%

Updated at 1555 GMT

By Pranav Kashyap, Sruthi Shankar and Khushi Singh

April 23 (Reuters) - Britain's blue-chip share index cruised to record highs on Tuesday helped by a weaker pound and positive corporate updates, while Primark owner AB Food led gains on an upbeat profit outlook.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE climbed to 8,076.52 points, surpassing its previous peak of 8,047.06 touched in February 2023. The index ended0.3% higher at 1555 GMT, marking its fifth straight session of gains.

Surging commodity prices, a falling pound, gainsin defence stocks as well as refreshed hopes of early interest rate cuts from the Bank of England havepowered the FTSE 100 higher this year, with investors takingadvantage of cheaper valuations in British equities compared to other global markets.

"It's obviously taken a long time to get to its all-time high compared to other markets. The FTSE 100 has underperformed for a very long time and when markets underperform it can mean undervalued," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

Precious metal miners .FTNMX551030 lost1.8%, leading sectoral declines, while industrial metal miners .FTNMX551020 followed with a 1.5% slip as metal prices retreated after recent highs.

In corporate updates, AssociatedBritish Foods ABF.L jumped 9.0% to the top of the FTSE 100 after the Primark owner forecast "significant growth" in full-year profit as it reported a 39% jump in the first half.

"The company’s outperformance of a flatlining UK retail sector suggests it is taking market share from less robust rivals," Mould added.

Among other retailers, Ocado OCDO.L led gains with a 5.4% spike after data showed it was the the UK's fastest growing grocer, while also showing that UKgrocery price inflation fell for the 14th month in a row in April, partly driven by an increase in supermarkets' promotional activity.

JDSports Fashion JD.L jumped3.8% afterthe sportswear retailer proposed to buy U.S. athletic-fashion retailer Hibbett Inc HIBB.O for about $1.08 billion.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC was up 1.0%, hovering near the 20,000 mark.

Petershill Partners PHLL.L was the top performer on the index,climbing 11.3% afterthe investment firm proposed a tender offer to return up to $100 million to shareholders at a price per share of 2.14 pounds.

Jupiter Fund Management JUP.L dipped6.4%, as first-quarteroutflows rose.

FTSE 100 hits record high but lags European, U.S. peers https://tmsnrt.rs/3vTbrCQ

Reporting by Pranav Kashyap, Khushi Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala and Mark Heinrich

 For related prices, Reuters users may click on - * UK stock report .L FTSE index: 0#.FTS6 techMARK 100 index: .FTT1X FTSE futures: 0#FFI: Gilt futures: 0#FLG: Smallcap index: .FTSC FTSE 250 index: .FTMC FTSE 350 index: .FTLC Market digest: .AD.L Top 10 by vol: .AV.L Top price gainers: .NG.L Top % gainers: .PG.L Top price losers: .NL.L Top % losers: .PL.L * For related news, click on - * UK hot stocks: HOT and GB Wall Street: .N Gilts report: GB/ Euro bond report GVD/EUR Pan European stock report: .EU Tokyo stocks: .T HK stocks: .HK Sterling report: GBP/ Dollar report: USD/ * For company prices, click on - * Company directory: UKEQ By sector: FTAX * For pan-European market data, click on - * European Equities speed guide................ EUR/EQUITY FTSE Eurotop 300 index........................... .FTEU3 DJ STOXX index................................... .STOXX Top 10 STOXX sectors........................ .PGL.STOXXS Top 10 EUROSTOXX sectors................... .PGL.STOXXES Top 10 Eurotop 300 sectors.................. .PGL.FTEU3S Top 25 European pct gainers.................... .PG.PEUR Top 25 European pct losers..................... .PL.PEUR

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