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Marks & Spencer shares soar on better-than-expected trading statement

Marks & Spencer shares soared by over 30p today as the company announced a trading statement which was significantly more positive than had been expected. Despite the fact that sales for the 13 weeks to 28 March were down 4.2%, this was significantly better than the 6.8% which had been forecast by many analysts. It seems that younger customers are flocking back to the shops and better-than-expected kidswear sales have also proved beneficial.

The company also revealed that while overall sales were down 4.2%, there was a 3.7% fall in food sales and a 4.8% fall in clothing. The figures are substantially better than those from the financial quarter ended December which showed like-for-like sales down 7.1%. The sudden jump in the share price has taken some of the recent pressure off chairman and chief executive Sir Stuart Rose who has been criticised around the city for holding the dual roles in the company.

However, before investors start thinking of sales increases in the short to medium term, Sir Stuart Rose is suggesting that while sales have not fallen as far as many had expected, the company does not expect any significant uplift in the short to medium term. Conditions are still very sluggish in the UK retail sector and until consumers move back en masse it would appear the situation will not approve substantially in the short to medium term.

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