LONDON Jan 3 European shares inched higher in
cautious trading on Friday, led by retailers after Next
raised its annual profit forecast following fourth quarter sales
that came in significantly ahead of its expectations.
Next, Britain's second largest clothing retailer, climbed
7.4 percent after the company also said it would pay a special
dividend of 50 pence a share and outlined a plan for more
payouts rather than share buybacks.
The company helped the STOXX Europe 600 retail index
to gain 0.7 percent, the best sectoral performer in Europe.
At 0812 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index, which
gained 16 percent in 2013, was 0.1 percent higher at 1,306.95
points. The pan-European index ended its first session of 2014
down 0.8 percent after setting earlier on Thursday its highest