Marks & Spencer shares rallied today despite fears of a worst-ever Christmas for the leading high street chain.
M&S and a number of other retail stocks were on the front foot after City brokers including Panmure Gordon suggested that the fall-out from depressed Christmas trading conditions was now factored into share prices.
The wider London market continued its post-Christmas rally, with the FTSE 100 Index up 11.3 points at 4573.1 by mid-morning. The mood was helped by a positive start to the year in Japan, where the Nikkei 225 rose more than 2% for its first finish above the 9,000-point line since November 10.
The retail rally came as Experian Footfall said the number of people out looking for bargains in the post-Christmas sales on Friday, Saturday and Sunday was up 2.7% on the same period in 2008.
On the Footsie risers board, M&S added 9p to 230p ahead of a trading update on Wednesday, which is expected to show a like-for-like sales decline of between 5.5% and 9.6%. Argos owner Home Retail Group also cheered 5.5p to 216p but Next lost an initial gain to stand 2p lower at 1107p. It is due to deliver the first of the season’s trading updates on Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere in the sector, JJB Sports shares jumped 63% – up 3.33p to 8.59p - after Friday’s announcement that it had appointed retail veteran David Jones as executive chairman.
Back in the top flight, bank shares were under pressure after Deutsche Bank cut price targets on various players in the sector. Halifax Bank of Scotland shed 2.7p to 69.8p, Royal Bank of Scotland fell 1.8p to 50.7p and Lloyds TSB dropped 3.8p to 126.2p.