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* MARKS & SPENCER: Marks & Spencer MKS.L reported a rise in quarterly underlying sales for its overall UK business for the first time since 2017 on Thursday, indicating its latest attempt at a turnaround is showing some tentative progress. UK COMPENSATION: Britain's financial industry compensation body said on Thursday it can only help 159 of a total 11,600 investors holding bonds issued by defunct investment firm London Capital & Finance. JOHN LEWIS: Britain's John Lewis Partnership JLPLC.UL forecast "significantly" lower profits for its 2019 financial year after Christmas sales fell, raising the prospect that it might not pay staff an annual bonus. SIG: Building materials supplier SIG Plc SHI.L on Thursday cautioned that its annual profit would be significantly lower as steps taken to offset weak construction markets in the UK and Germany would take longer than expected to bear fruit. TESCO: Tesco TSCO.L , Britain's biggest retailer, ground out a 0.1% rise in underlying sales in its home market during what it said was a "subdued" Christmas for consumer spending. Home furnishings retailer Dunelm DNLM.L forecast a near 20% jump in earnings for the first half of its fiscal year, benefiting from its decision to stay away from discounting during a key holiday season that included Black Friday and Christmas. CARD FACTORY: British greeting card retailer Card Factory CARDC.L said on Thursday it expects lower annual adjusted underlying core profit and blamed general election and weak consumer confidence for subdued performance in the key Christmas period. ROBERT WALTERS: Recruiter Robert Walters Plc RWA.L said on Thursday its fourth-quarter gross profit fell 7% as employer and candidate confidence in the UK dwindled due to political uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the December elections. TESCO: Thailand's state-owned energy firm PTT Pcl PTT.BK said neither it nor its retail unit were interested in bidding for Tesco Plc's TSCO.L assets in Asia. CIIA CODE: Internal auditors should have direct access to top company bosses to help avoid Carillion-style corporate crashes, a new industry code said on Wednesday. The code from the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CIIA) aims to restore credibility in internal auditors' ability to be the "eyes and ears" of boards to stamp out poor governance and misconduct. RETAIL SPENDING: British shoppers cut back on spending in late 2019, rounding off the worst year since at least the mid-1990s for retail sales as measured by an industry group which blamed uncertainty about Brexit and last month's election for the slump. GOLD: Gold prices edged higher as investors preferred to stay put with safe-haven assets even though the chances of an escalation in U.S.-Iran conflict waned after the two sides softened their stance. OIL: Oil prices climbed after a rocket attack on Baghdad triggered fresh concern over the potential for conflict in the Middle East, a day after markets were roiled by an Iranian missile strike on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces. EX-DIVS: Aveva Group AVV.L will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 0.04 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations London's main index recouped almost all its earlier losses on Wednesday as markets hoped flaring tensions between the United States and Iran would not escalate further, while midcaps slipped as worries of a hard Brexit resurfaced. UK PAPERS
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