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LONDON: The UK’s blue-chip index crept higher for a fourth session on Thursday as gains in consumer stocks offset losses stemming from ex-dividend trading, while pub group Mitchells rose after its sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

The export-heavy FTSE 100 gained 0.3%, with large dollar earners including Diageo, Unilever, British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser boosted by a weaker pound.

However, further gains were checked by declines in Vodafone as it traded without entitlement for dividend.

Mitchells & Butlers rose 3.6% after jumping as much as 7.7% earlier. The company said that sales in recent weeks have been higher than before the pandemic, but warned of challenges ahead due to rising costs for staff and utilities.

“Cost inflation is another big pressure on the business, and Mitchells & Butlers could find it hard to pass this on to the customer in the form of higher prices,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

An industry group warned on Wednesday that Britain could face a shortage of alcohol this Christmas unless the government steps up its efforts to address a lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

Investors will look for hints about the Bank of England’s rate hike plans in December, with Governor Andrew Bailey set to speak later in the day on Thursday.

UK midcap stocks rose 0.5% after a four-session losing run, with Vivo Energy surging 18.5% on news that commodities trader Vitol will buy the company in a deal valued at roughly $2.3 billion.

Hochschild Mining jumped 14.3% after it said its key mines in Peru would continue to operate after the South American country allowed miners to seek extensions for mines.

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