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Retailers, energy stocks push London stocks higher

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* FTSE 100 gains 0.4%, FTSE 250 up 0.1%

Jan 5 (Reuters) - British shares gained on Tuesday, led by a jump in retail stocks following record grocery sales in December, overshadowing risks arising from a fresh national lockdown imposed to curb the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus was spreading at great speed and immediate action was needed to slow it down.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index gained 0.4%, with general retailers and energy stocks gaining between 2% and 3%.

December was the busiest month ever for British supermarkets as tightening COVID-19 restrictions and the closure of restaurants, bars and cafés meant shoppers spent 11.7 billion pounds ($15.9 billion) on groceries, industry data showed.

UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak’s plans to offer further help to businesses struggling under the renewed COVID-19 restrictions also aided sentiment.

The mid-cap index was up 0.1%.

Morrisons, Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket group, gained 0.2% after reporting a rise in underlying sales in its latest trading period encompassing Christmas. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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