Travel stocks and retailers lift FTSE 100 to strongest session in 5-months



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* Fashion retailer Next jumps on robust earnings

* Royal Mail drops to bottom of FTSE 100

* Survey shows UK recovery loses some pace

* FTSE 100 up 1.7%, FTSE 250 adds 1.9% (Updates to close)

By Shashank Nayar and Amal S

July 21 (Reuters) - Travel-related stocks and retailers helped London's FTSE 100 to record its strongest session in more than five months on Wednesday, while Next Plc was the top gainer after it raised its profit outlook following robust earnings.

The blue-chip index .FTSE ended 1.7% higher, with Compass Group CPG.L , International Consolidated Airlines ICAG.L , Whitbread WTB.L , and Rolls-Royce RR.L among the top gainers.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index .FTMC rose 1.9%, marking its best day since January 2020. The index was boosted by a 4.4% gain in travel sub-index .FTNMX405010 with Cineworld CINE.L , Carnival CCL.L , SSP Group SSPG.L , and EasyJet EZJ.L gaining between 4.3% and 7.5%.

Shares of the British fashion retailer NXT.L surged 7.5% after it said it had soundly beaten its expectations for full-price sales and, as a result, was increasing its profit forecast.

"We've seen the panic hit the market and then now we're are back to normal. Given the uncertainties around the economic recovery for the rest of the year, it pretty much assures the investors that central banks will remain cautious, cementing the hope that interest rate lifts are not going to happen next year," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

The FTSE 100 has risen 8.3% so far this year, supported by cheap borrowing costs and optimism around economic re-opening, although a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, higher inflation levels and hawkish tone from central banks on tapering of interest rates have capped those gains.

A survey showed UK's economic bounce-back from lockdowns cooled in June despite a surge in business for the country's hospitality sector, echoing signs that the recovery has lost some of its pace.

Among other stocks, media group Future FUTR.L jumped 9.2% and was among the top boost to the mid-cap index after it said it expects its full-year profitability to be ahead of expectations.

Royal Mail Plc RMG.L dropped 2.7% to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after it said fewer parcels were being delivered to homes as pandemic restrictions eased across the country, even as it reported a 12.5% rise in first-quarter group revenue.

Private equity firm Bridgepoint BPTB.L up 29.1%, saw its value rise by more than a fifth on its London stock market debut.



FTSE 100 posts strongest session since Feb. 2021 Link



Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing
by Shailesh Kuber, Uttaresh.V and David Evans



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