Stocks: City warms to M&S clothing strategy

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Shares in Marks & Spencer swung higher yesterday as analysts warmed to the high street stalwart’s new clothing strategy and autumn/winter launch.

Chief executive Marc Bolland, under pressure to deliver improved results, believes that the latest ranges, revealed at a catwalk show in London on Tuesday night, represent “a step in the right direction”.

Analysts at Tradenext said the move was important for the chain and Bolland. “The embattled chief has tried to play down its significance but the event was less about the launch of a new clothing range than what it meant for the business going forward,” the broker noted.

Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerlad, which has a “sell” recommendation on M&S, believe it is the “right strategy but not without significant risk”. They say the valuation does not take account of the risks.

Shares in M&S closed up 15.4p or 3.7 per cent at 436p.

The FTSE 100 Index was on the verge of a record-breaking run as it closed higher for the tenth day in a row, up 7.49 points at 6,693.55.

It means trading today could match three previous occasions when the index has climbed 11 successive times – which would be the first time this has happened since the recession of 2008. EasyJet set the pace, with a rise of 8 per cent, or 94p, to 1,224p, as it took advantage of Britons fleeing the winter deep freeze and rival capacity cuts to reduce losses by 46 per cent to £61 million. Its update lifted fellow carrier and holiday firm TUI Travel, which was up 8.2p to 355.4p, a 2 per cent gain.

Oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and BP were under pressure after the EC started a probe into alleged price-fixing. Shell was 55p lower at 2,300.5p and BP was down 1p at 467.6p.

NEW YORK: Wall Street rose last night, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index again hitting new all-time highs in a broad market rally as the recent upward momentum on equities persisted.

The Dow rose 60.44 points, or 0.40 per cent, to end the day at 15,275.69 while the broader S&P 500 gained 8.44 points, or 0.51 per cent, finishing at 1,658.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 9.01 points, or 0.26 per cent, to close at 3,471.62.