Updates from Tesco, M&S and Ted Baker

Tesco to close more than 40 stores meanwhile M&S suffers a grim Christmas with poor general merchandise trading

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, tesco, M&S Ted bakerSome respite for the FTSE 100, up 53 points (or 0.84%) on Wednesday to 6,419.8. ARM Holdings and UnitedUtilities saw 3.5% and 3.2% rises (to 977p and 929p). However easyJet and Sainsbury's saw some weakness, down 2.2% and 2.1% (1644p and 229.6p). Morrisons also was down again, tumbling 1.3% to 171.40p.

Rather more positive news for the Dow Jones though, up 212.8 points to 17,584.5 as investors welcomed more European stimulus and a slight hardening of the oil price.

It's Big Retail this morning. Let's get behind a Tesco trolley first. The UK's biggest grocer says it's to close 43 stores and abandon a rash of new store openings. It's also denying investors a final dividend for 2014/15.

However Tesco says like-for-like sales performance of -2.9% is an improvement on -5.4% in Q2. There was also better-than-expected Christmas sales with strong improvements in clothing online, up more than 50%. European sales also improved, up 1% in the last six weeks.

"We have some very difficult changes to make," says new boss Dave Lewis. "I am very conscious that the consequences of these changes are significant for all stakeholders in our business but we are facing the reality of the situation."

Let's move onto more difficult retail numbers with M&S. The retailer has reported its 14th plunge in sales; general merchandise slipped 5.8% in the last, third quarter. Disappointment too for online sales, down 2.7%. Not a good Christmas.

Food, predictably, is much better. M&S sales are up 2.8% though just 0.1% on a like-for-like basis. Christmas food sales were rather better, up 17% in the key Christmas trading week, it claims.

"We deliberately held back," says M&S in a statement, "the level of [general merchandise] discounting especially in December. While this had an adverse impact on sales we delivered a good performance on gross margin."

Finally, Ted Baker claims a 22.8% increase in retail sales for the 8 week period 9 November 2014 to 3 January 2015. Average retail square footage rose 9.2% to 331,208 sq.ft. (2014: 303,174 sq.ft.)

Gross margins were in line with expectations. E-commerce saw sales increase 65.7%. It expects to end the year with a clean stock position.

"The Group," says boss Ray Kelvin, "has delivered a great performance over the Christmas period across our global markets and distribution channels. Further underlying growth and brand momentum has been delivered."

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