January 4, 2018 / 10:14 AM / 15 days ago

Big oil powers UK's FTSE 100 to record high; Debenhams drops

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* FTSE 100 up 0.2 pct

* Oil majors, miners rise

* Debenhams drop weighs on retailers

By Kit Rees

LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - A rally in oil majors pushed the UK’s top share index to an all-time high on Thursday, though elsewhere retailers were under pressure after a profit warning from Debenhams.

Britain’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent at 7,686.95 points by 0948 GMT, while mid caps rose 0.1 percent.

“Just because we’re trading on ground that’s never been traded on before doesn’t really mean that we’re due a pullback - we do expect (the FTSE 100) to push higher,” John Moore, trader at Berkeley Capital, said.

“We’ve also seen that the historic correlation between the pound and the FTSE is somewhat not as strong as before,” Moore added, saying bigger factors, such as the oil price, were driving the index.

A rally in cyclical sectors such as financials and energy added around 20 points to the index, with BP and Shell rising 1 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.

The UK’s oil and gas index was up 0.8 percent at its highest level since May 2008.

The British oil majors aped a move higher in oil prices, which were spurred to their highest level since mid-2015 on the back of tensions in producer Iran.

A supportive research note from Barclays also helped the energy sector, in which analysts said they expected European integrated oil and refining companies to be cash flow positive after dividends in the fourth quarter, thanks to a higher oil price.

Likewise positive metals prices also drove shares in British miners. Shares in Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton rose between 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent.

The mood was less positive among retail stocks, however, after shares in small cap Debenhams dropped more than 16 percent after a profit warning following a difficult Christmas trading period.

This contrasted with Next’s upbeat update on Christmas sales on Wednesday.

Shares in Debenhams were on track for their biggest one-day loss since March 2008, while blue chip Marks & Spencer were also down 2.7 percent at the bottom of the FTSE.

“Ongoing structural challenges, a soft consumer environment, rising costs and increasing capex demands make for a difficult outlook (for Debenhams),” analysts at Liberum said in a note.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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