(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* Indivior top mid-cap gainer
* Rolls-Royce tumbles on lower engine travel expectations
* UK's unemployment rate jumps to highest since 2016
* FTSE 100 rises 0.2%, FTSE 250 adds 0.5% (Updates to close)
By Shashank Nayar and Amal S
Jan 26 (Reuters) - British stocks ended higher on Tuesday after drugmaker AstraZeneca denied reports that its COVID-19 vaccine was less effective in the elderly population, while Indivior surged after its former parent withdrew a $1.4 billion legal claim.
However, weakness in general retailers .FTNMX5370 limited gains after British retail sales suffered their biggest annual drop since May this month, suggesting the latest lockdown is taking a heavy toll on many shops. mood was also dampened by a jump in Britain's unemployment rate to 5.0%, its highest in nearly five years, in the three months to November. though the unemployment rate is at 5%, it was meant to go to 5.1%. So, there were positive angles to pick among the negative news and I think that seems to have benefited sentiment alongside the pound falling," said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.
Drugmaker AstraZeneca AZN.L gained 0.7% and gave the second biggest boost to the blue-chip index after it denied reports its COVID-19 vaccine was not very effective for people over 65.
The FTSE 100 has recorded consistent monthly gains since November on expectations of a vaccine-led recovery, but it has lost steam as extended lockdowns hit business activity.
The International Monetary Fund cut Britain's growth outlook for 2021 because of a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases, and forecast it would take until next year for the economy to regain its pre-pandemic strength. Rolls-Royce RR.L dropped 1.8% after it downgraded expectations for how much its engines would fly this year. INDV.L leapt 13.1% to the top of the FTSE 250 index after it said late on Monday that former parent Reckitt Benckiser RB.L would withdraw a $1.4 billion claim against the company.
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