The stores sector shrugged off the collapse of Woolworths and continued concern about the trading outlook to outperform the FTSE All Share index.

But Pali International argued the sector’s “dead cat bounce” was a selling opportunity and cited Home Retail Group as a prime example. The broker said: “Home has plenty of short-term trading problems on top of the shadow over 2009/10 gross margins cast by the collapse of sterling.”
Leading grocer Tesco was up following third-quarter sales figures, which, although the weakest in more than a decade, beat pessimistic expectations.

ING maintained its hold recommendation but cut its target price by 20p to 350p. The broker said: “The stock enjoyed a relief rally that looks a little generous given some of the ongoing issues with respect to UK market share erosion, lack of international like-for-like growth and uncertainties regarding the future of the US chain Fresh & Easy.”

JD Sports Fashion revealed sales had slipped in the 11 weeks to November 29. Although fashion fascias delivered 3.3 per cent like-for-like growth, the group figure fell 1 per cent. JD is thought to be circling rival JJB, which fell on worries about prospects. The OFT revealed it was investigating Sports Direct’s stake in JJB. Investec described JD’s update as reassuring and likes its “differentiated and well-managed business model”.

Game, the computer entertainment specialist, posted an 11.2 per cent rise in like-for-likes in the 44 weeks to November 29, but only 1.5 per cent in the final 18 weeks. Hold, recommended KBC Peel Hunt. The broker observed: “The unknown factor is the impact of Woolworths’ demise, as we suspect part of the chain may be resurrected, limiting the extent of market share released for Game, HMV and others.”

Tycoon Sir Philip Green sold his stake in Moss Bros to a trust headed by menswear supplier Simon Berwin, netting a profit of almost£1 million before broking fees. Berwin now holds 29.99 per cent of shares in Moss Bros, which issued a profit warning on Monday. House broker Altium maintained that it was out-trading rivals and has “the wherewithal to ride out the recession”.

Sofas firm Land of Leather has received interest from potential buyers but said there was no certainty a deal would take place. The retailer said: “The company has no debt and hence no requirement to pursue a sale unless it realises shareholder value.”