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FTSE 100 lifted by Primark owner

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The UK’s main share index rose in early trade, with shares in Primark owner AB Foods jumping after its latest results.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 4.56 points to 6,811.46.

AB Foods was the top riser on the index, up 8.1%, after it reported a rise in full-year profits and said it expected further progress next year.

Shares in Marks and Spencer opened higher but then fell back as the retailer announced plans to cut store numbers both at home and abroad.

M&S is closing 30 UK clothing outlets, converting dozens more into food-only stores, and shutting 53 international stores in 10 overseas markets.

The retailer also reported a sharp drop in half-year profits and a fall in underlying sales at both its clothing and food businesses.

“Closing the foreign stores makes sense as M&S never quite understood its customers outside the UK,” said Neil Wilson at ETX Capital.

“[Chief executive Steve] Rowe wants to focus on Mrs M&S, the retailer’s core customer, and this means doing its own version of Brexit by focusing solely on the UK market.”

Shares in Imperial Brands fell 2.5% despite the cigarette maker reporting a near 10% rise in full-year revenues and a 10.4% increase in adjusted operating profit.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.25% against the dollar to $1.2428, and was 0.1% higher against the euro at €1.1237.

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