Big freeze hits FTSE's retail firms

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The FTSE 100 rose 6.3 points to 5878 in early trading

The UK’s big freeze has had an impact on the London market after share price falls for airline British Airways and retailers including Next.

Passengers found themselves stranded at airports across the country and many shoppers were unable to reach the high street during what is normally one of the busiest weekends of the year for UK retailers.

British Airways shares fell 2% or 5.6p to 264.6p but the wider FTSE 100 Index held firm, up 6.3 points at 5878 despite the blow to confidence caused by more tensions on the Korean peninsula and further losses for banking stocks.

Lloyds Banking Group dropped 1.1p to 65.4p as analysts calculated the cost of Friday’s warning that it would take additional bad debt charges on its £26 billion Irish loan book. Barclays fell 2.75p to 257p but Royal Bank of Scotland, which also has extensive exposure to Ireland, improved 0.4p to 38.2p.

Among the retailers, Next fell 24p to 1961p, B&Q owner Kingfisher dropped 0.6p to 254.8p and Marks & Spencer slipped 1.9p to 373.5p. Small-cap stock HMV, which owns book shop chain Waterstone’s, fell 2.5p to 29p.

Investors were also focused on the gambling sector after Ladbrokes confirmed it was in talks over a possible deal to buy online firm 888 Holdings.

Shares in 888 jumped 19% or 9.25p to 58.25p and Sportingbet rose 0.15p to 59.1p on hopes of further consolidation but Ladbrokes slipped 0.1p to 127.4p.

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