Retail giants M&S and Dixons see shares soar
Retail stocks were the star attraction for investors today after big gains for shares in high street stalwarts Marks & Spencer and Dixons Retail.
The FTSE 100 Index added 38.2 points to 6512.6 after a near-100 point rise on Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday as stocks benefited from an upbeat report on the US economy and robust car sales.
In London, the Bank of England's latest monetary policy committee meeting delivered the expected no change in both interest rates and quantitative easing.
There was no statement alongside the decision, despite the market's scepticism of governor Mark Carney's forward guidance policy.
Banks dominated the blue-chip risers board as Lloyds Banking Group cheered 2.2p to 74.8p, Royal Bank of Scotland added 5.95p to 334.55p and Barclays rose 5.5p to 295p.
But top spot was reserved for Marks & Spencer after broker HSBC upgraded its target price to 550p and said the retailer was well placed to benefit from the recent improvement in economic conditions.
The optimism comes at a good time for the high street chain as it continues to push the autumn and winter ranges recently unveiled by a new design team.
M&S shares rose 14.8p to 493.5p and are at their highest level since 2008.
Meanwhile, Dixons Retail Group was the biggest riser in the FTSE 250 Index as its latest trading update offered more cheer for investors.
The PC World and Currys owner revealed deals to offload its troubled French business PIXmania and its ElectroWorld arm in Turkey.
As both businesses are loss-making shares surged 7pc on relief that the company will be able to focus on its more successful operations in the UK and Ireland, which posted another strong performance with like-for-like sales up 6pc in the three months to July 31.
Superdry fashion firm SuperGroup followed close behind on the second tier risers board, up 5pc or 62.5p to 1221.5p after posting an 8.5pc hike in like-for-like first quarter sales, while total revenues jumped 25.7pc.
It has now delivered seven quarters in a row of underlying sales growth.
Other retail stocks on the front foot included Argos owner Home Retail Group - up 6p to 151.2p - and Halfords with a gain of 13.45p to 379.75p.
Transport group Go-Ahead rose 38p to 1513p after it highlighted more strong trading in its bus division, with profits up 11pc to £78.2m in the year to June 29. Overall profits were down 8pc because of ongoing issues in its rail division, although at £86.2m this was slightly better than expected.