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March 31, 2009    

Marks & Spencer leads most retailers higher

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by Elaine Frei
Marks & Spencer leads most retailers higher

With miners and banks higher, European equities markets saw gains Tuesday, making back part of Monday’s declines.

In London, the FTSE 100 added 4.34 percent to 3,926.14 while the FTSE 250 was up 2.4 percent to 6,373.89.

Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS) led most retailers higher after it reported that sales were only down by 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter, a much better result than had been anticipated, adding 11.91 for the next-to-best gain on the 100, but department store operator Debenhams (LSE: DEB) led decliners on the 250 as it dropped 11.11 percent on a placement of shares for sale.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 ended the session up 3.4 percent to 733.21, but despite seeing a gain in March, it dropped 11.9 percent in the first quarter.

The Dax was 2.39 percent higher to 4,084.76 while the IBEX added 2.81 percent to 7,815 and the CAC-40 gained 3.24 percent to 2,807.34.

Asian markets were mixed as markets in Tokyo and Australia declined but most others were higher on the session.

The Nikkei 225 was down 1.54 percent to 8,109.53 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 2.01 percent to 773.66 and the Mothers market dropped 0.65 percent to 306.45 as the fiscal year there ended with more concerns about the economy in general and the state of the financial sector in particular.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, the S&P/ASX200 and the Sydney Ordinaries each dropped 0.62 percent, to 3,582.1 and 3,532.3 respectively.

The Taiex added 0.09 percent to 5,210.84 while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.64 percent to 2,373.21, the Kospi gained 0.73 percent to 1,2026.26, the Hang Seng was 0.89 percent higher to 13,576.02, the Sensex added 1.47 percent to 8,708.5 and the Straits Times Index gained 1.6 percent to 1,699.99.

New York equities markets were also higher in early afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.89 percent to 7,663.87 while the Nasdaq Composite had added 2.51 percent to 1,539.46 and the S&P 500 had gained 2.01 percent to 803.38.

Crude oil prices, grains and most metals were higher, but silver was lower on the session.

The yen was weaker ahead of the Tankan business confidence survey, but the pound gained on higher consumer confidence in the UK.

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