Greggs shares jump on strong sales

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(Close): Shares in bakery chain Greggs jumped nearly 9.5% after it said strong trading over the Christmas period meant profits would be above expectations.

Like-for-like sales at its stores were up 8.2% in the five weeks to 3 January, and rose 6% in the fourth quarter.

Greggs, a FTSE 250 company, added it was "confident" that it could make "further progress in the year ahead".

The benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day 40.78 points or 0.63% higher at 6,542.20.

Shares in Morrisons rose 4.5% as investors welcomed news of a change of leadership. The supermarket said current chief executive Dalton Philips would be leaving the firm and it had begun the search for a replacement.

Morrisons also announced that like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 January fell 3.1%, which was not as bad as some analysts had predicted.

"The company's performance is not as dire as some had feared over the period, and Morrisons will be hoping that the management changes will give the strategy fresh impetus," said Richard Hunter from stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown.

Shares in Debenhams sank 6.7% after the department store chain reported a fall in quarterly sales and said the full-year rise in profit margins would be at the low end of expectations.

A strong rise in sales at online fashion retailer Asos pushed its shares up 8.6%. The company said sales in the six weeks to 9 January rose 15%.

Oil prices continued to fall. Brent crude dropped below $46 a barrel at one point before recovering slightly to $46.04. US crude fell 12 cents to $45.76 a barrel.

On the currency markets, the pound was little moved against the dollar at $1.5177 but rose 0.44% against the euro to €1.2876.