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Shares boost for M&S and Debenhams after strong Christmas spending

BRITISH retailers Marks & Spencer and Debenhams were big share price winners today after strong December trading boosted sales figures.

Updates from the pair reinforced findings from the British Retail Consortium that showed households were still willing to spend over the Christmas period.

The mood of traders was also helped by a resilient session for Asian markets, even though figures showed growth in China's exports slowed in December. London’s FTSE 100 Index stood 42.7 points higher at 5654.7, with banking and mining stocks among those on the front foot.

The risers board featured a gain of 2pc for Marks & Spencer after a strong performance in its food department helped it achieve a 0.5pc rise in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to December 31. Shares were up 7.55p (9.12c) to 316p.

Debenhams was ahead by nearly 10pc or 5.5p to 62.4p in the FTSE 250 Index after it reported a record pre-Christmas week and said underlying sales were flat across the 18 weeks to January 7.