Pick of the early market news

Markets recovered a measure of poise yesterday with the FTSE 100 rising 0.26% to 5,666 points; International Power climbed 3.19% to 416p while Croda International climbed 2.72% to 2190p.

Biggest faller was Man Group, slipping -4.45% to 105.1p; Lloyds shares were down -3.4%. Overnight, Chinese shares slumped with the Hang Seng losing -0.7%.
Let's start with High Street bellwether M&S. It's mixed news. Group sales for the last quarter - 13 weeks to 31 March - are up 0.8% with Food up 3.1% and M&S Direct up 22.8%. However UK like-for-like sales slump -0.7% overall with Clothing and Home both down.

"Marks & Spencer" says chief exec Marc Bolland, "continued to make progress in a challenging market. Group sales grew by 0.8%, and UK sales grew by 1.2%. Our Food business has again performed well, especially in healthy food, whilst the General Merchandise performance was more mixed."

M&S claims it has continued to manage costs tightly, identifying further cost savings in the second half of the year. "We are confident of delivering 2011/12 profits in line with expectations," the company says.

Next, fashion player Burberry. Total revenues for the six months up to 31 March climb 18% to £1,027m. Underlying retail revenues climbs 23% to £743m while wholesale revenues rise 7% to £230m. Underlying revenue growth in the fourth quarter slowed.

It claims a 12-14% increase in average retail selling space for FY 2012/13,
weighted towards larger stores with mid single-digit % growth in wholesale revenue for H1 2012/13.

"Looking ahead," says Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts, "while we remain vigilant about the external environment, our global teams continue to focus on optimising our core brand, digital and cultural initiatives, while investing to drive sustainable, profitable growth."

Finally, an update from Daily Mail and General Trust. Underlying revenues are 2% up with "resilient revenue performance" at Associated; circulation and digital revenue growth largely offsets print advertising weakness, it claims. The outlook for the year remains unchanged.

Operating profits and profit before tax for the first half of the year are expected to be lower than in 2011. Net debt for the half year has risen since the year end due to acquisitions and pension payment pressure. But net debt is expected to fall in the second half of the year, the company claims.

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