Retail sales pick-up buoys Britain's FTSE 100
* FTSE 100 up 22.10 points at 6,594.03
* Consumer-focused stocks up after June retail sales beat forecasts
* M&S rises on report of revived bid interest - traders
* WPP boosted by Publicis update
By David Brett
LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Consumer-focused stocks helped Britain's main share index outstrip gains in mainland Europe on Thursday, driven by a bigger-than-expected rise in British retail sales in June.
By 1035 GMT, general retailers and the travel and leisure sector each rose 1 percent while the FTSE 100 was up 22.10 points or 0.3 percent at 6,594.03.
Retail sales increased 0.2 percent on the month and 2.2 percent on the year, adding to signs of a recovery in the British economy.
"We have had a pretty good spring and early summer, so ...if you take a sweep of all the economic data we have had over the last few weeks, there is some evidence that the UK has had a reasonably strong quarter," Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank, said.
High street retailer Marks & Spencer gained 1.7 percent, also helped by a media report saying U.S. bid interest in the firm had revived, traders said.
Optimism among consumers appeared to be spreading to equity investors with the London Stock Exchange, up 4 percent, reporting first quarter revenues that beat forecasts.
The world's biggest advertising agency, FTSE heavyweight WPP , gained 2.9 percent. Traders said the share benefited from news French peer Publicis was targeting the top end of organic growth forecasts.
In the very early stages of the European quarterly earnings season, 61 percent of companies have beaten expectations, by an average of 4.2 percent.
Low-cost airline easyJet climbed 3.4 percent, the second top riser on FTSE 100, after an upgrade by JP Morgan, which said it favoured discount airlines over more established names on profitability grounds.
Tate & Lyle fell 1.7 percent after Societe Generale cut its recommendation on the sugar producer to "hold" from "buy". (Reporting by David Brett; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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