The British Retail Consortium reported a fall in like-for-like retail sales in March for the first time in two years and at the sharpest pace for three years.
The Office for National Statistics also revealed that the consumer price index rose 2.5 per cent on the year, well above the Bank of England’s 2.0 per cent inflation target, although this was lower than analysts had expected.
But the most eye-catching news came from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which revealed the balance of surveyors reporting that house prices rose over the previous three months fell to minus 78.5 in March, from minus 64.1 per cent in February.
The balance was the eighth negative month in succession and the deepest since the RICS survey began in 1978.
Despite this, the FTSE 100 broke a five-session losing streak to move 53.5 points, or 0.9 per cent, higher to 5,885.1.
AstraZeneca was the biggest single gainer, rising 8 per cent to £21.37, after the drugsmaker settled its US patent dispute with Ranbaxy.
Astra said the Indian company’s generic version of Astra’s ulcer drug Nexium would be kept from sale until May 2014, lifting the market prospects of the original treatment.
BG Group jumped 5.7 per cent to £12.92 as Nymex crude for May delivery moved further over the $100 a barrel mark - setting a fresh high of £112.48.
There was also talk of a significant discovery in Brazil where BG has a share in an offshore oil prospect in partnership with Spain’s Repsol and Petrobas.
Among the other oil groups, BP rose 1.1 per cent to 555p. There was also talk a Chinese sovereign wealth fund had quietly amassed a 1 per cent holding in the company. Royal Dutch Shell added 1.1 per cent to £18.28 and Cairn Energy gained 1.6 per cent to £30.09.
Tesco jumped 4 per cent to 406.3p after the grocer reported an 11 per cent jump in annual trading profit to £2.75bn after a 3.5 per cent increase in like-for-like sales.
Carphone Warehouse tumbled 9 per cent to 241p after it trimmed its profit guidance for 2008 to a range between £215m-£220m from an original forecast of £220m-£225m.
The UK housing market worries knocked homebuilder Persimmon, which dropped 2.5 per cent to 658p while Chrysalis, the music publisher, fell 15.9 per cent to 113½p after it said bid talks with EMI about a 155p-a-share offer had ended without agreement.