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M&S defies profits hit; China warning

After falling this morning on fears of an economic slowdown in China, the FTSE 100 closed up 29.6 points, or 0.4%, just ahead of the close at 7,514.9.

China‘s main stock index fell 1% overnight and the Australian dollar slipped on Wednesday after Moody’s cut its sovereign credit rating on China. Japan’s Nikkei stock index, however, was up 0.4%. Moody’s said growing leverage in China prompted the downgrade, and warned about slowing economic growth.

China’s massive debt been at the centre of concerns among economists and Beijing in recent months, and has rattled global financial markets since late last year.

Marks & Spencer shares hit a 12 month high as investors shrugged off the sharp fall in profits and gave CEO Steve Rowe the benefit of the doubt. They were up 3.4p at 391p after touching 397.8p. They are now up 19% in the last three months.

The top two risers on the LSE today were budget airline EasyJet, up 3.7%, and travel firm TUI, up 3.5%.

Royal Bank of Scotland was also a riser up 4.6% or 1.74% on hopes of a settlement in its battle with shareholders seeking compensation over the 2008 rights issue.

Among smaller caps, IndigoVision shares shed 5.5p (2%) after soaring 11.5% yesterday when the Edinburgh-based camera security company announced plans to buy back up to 375,000 shares at more than twice their market price.

It follows a recent strong uplift in the price following an upbeat trading statement. The shares are already double their value on 12 months ago.

In a statement to the market, the company said the maximum price to be paid through the buy back is limited to no more than 105% of the average middle market closing price of the company’s shares for the five dealing days preceding the date of purchase. Any shares purchased will be held in treasury.

Despite the rise the board said there was “a persistent gap between the market valuation of the company and the board’s assessment of intrinsic value” and “the directors consider that implementation of the Buyback Programme on the terms proposed is in the interests of shareholders as a whole.”

SpaceandPeople, the Glasgow-based retail, promotional and brand experience specialist, this morning announced an exclusive multi-year contract to manage the promotional space across British Land’s portfolio of outdoor public spaces in London. These include Broadgate, Paddington Central and Regent’s Place.

Matthew Bending, SpaceandPeople CEO, said: “This is a significant endorsement of SpaceandPeople, with a major client choosing to extend their relationship with us to include a number of the most prominent public spaces in London.”            

The US dollar pulled away from recent six month lows, as the release of President Donald Trump’s budget proposal raised hopes that his administration’s policies would move forward.

Oil prices steadied with Brent crude at $51.59 on expectations of an extension to OPEC-led supply cuts.

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