FTSE 100 gains on retail strength, stronger sterling weighs on exporters

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* FTSE 100 up 0.1%, FTSE 250 up 0.6%

* UK PMI data due later in morning

* Robust retail sales recorded in July

Aug 21 (Reuters) - The UK blue-chip index eked out slim gains on Friday as strong retail sales data alleviated some concerns over an extended economic slowdown, though a stronger sterling dragged on exporter stocks.

The FTSE 100 index, which makes two-thirds of its earnings from abroad, was up 0.1% by 0706 GMT, but the more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 index outperformed with a 0.6% rise.

Data showed that British retail sales surged past their pre-coronavirus level last month, with investors also keeping an eye on the purchasing managers’ index survey due later in the morning for signs of a steady recovery.

“These numbers are encouraging, despite the challenges facing the UK economy, of which there are many, particularly around sustainability of the furlough,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

A sub-index of retailers led gains in early trade, with Marks & Spencer climbing 2% and sportswear retailer Frasers rising 4%. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)