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M&S surprises stockmarket

Marks & Spencer pleasantly surprised the stockmarket with better-than-expected interim results. Pre-tax profit increased a little from 297.8m to 298.3m.

Analysts had been expecting 4% less. Like-for-like sales at the chain fell by 0.9% and total sales rose by 2.8% to 4.3bn. Boss Stuart Rose reckons the recession has some way to go and the UK recovery on the high street will be delayed by at least 12 months. Food sales fell by 0.3%, despite the retailer slashing prices in an attempt to win sales from Waitrose.