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Footsie shrugs off US election jitters

Marks & Spencer was one of the biggest risers on London's leading shares index as improved recent trading offered hope of a turnaround.

The retailer reported a 10% fall in profits to £290 million, but the 4shares rose nearly 3% as it said bolder buying of key trends helped ease declines in non-food sales in the second quarter.

The wider FTSE-100 index closed 45.8 points higher at 5884.90 in a recovery from yesterday's declines seen amid investor caution ahead of the US presidential election.

Gains came despite disappointing figures for the British economy, with Halifax reporting a 0.7% fall in house prices last month and official data showing a worse-than-expected performance from manufacturers in September.

Output rose 0.1% between August and September, the Office for National Statistics said, which was below expectations for a 0.3% rise.

The worse-than-expected data hit the pound, which fell against the euro to 1.24.

However, sterling was up against the US dollar at 1.59 as the greenback gave up some of yesterday's gains.

Under-pressure chief executive Marc Bolland revealed a 1.8% fall in like-for-like non-food sales at Marks & Spencer in the second quarter – a marked improvement on the 6.8% plunge seen in the first three months. The shares rose 10.8p to 398.7p.

Other retailers were also on the rise, with B&Q owner Kingfisher up 4.7p to 291.7p.

Primark firm Associated British Foods bucked the trend, closing 1p lower at 1365p despite revealing a 17% rise in operating profits to £1.08 billion.

The drop in the share price came after analysts said profits in its sugar division were likely to fall back from the exceptional performance seen in the most recent financial year.

Back in the top tier, embattled security firm G4S was 3% higher as its fightback from the Olympics contract fiasco continued.

It reported a pick-up in revenues in the third quarter, helping shares firm 9.2p to 270p.

Insurer Resolution was the biggest Footsie riser, up 15.4p to 236.6p, thanks to a broker upgrade, and banks were also enjoying gains, led by Lloyds Banking Group, up 2.1p to 44.9p.

Chip designer Arm Holdings was higher amid reports that Apple is considering switching the supplier used for desktop computer chips. The shares gained 14.5p to 709.5p.

In the FTSE-250 index, packaging firm DS Smith was down 4% as broker Investec downgraded the group despite an upbeat trading update, leaving the shares 8.2p lower at 206.6p.

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