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LONDON, Jan 9- Tesco and Marks& Spencer, the biggest names in British retail, posted heavy falls in sales in the run up to Christmas, showing no sign of their much vaunted turnarounds and ratcheting up pressure on their chief executives.
Christmas is the busiest time of year for most retailers, but which British stores had the best performance?
LONDON, Jan 8- British grocer J Sainsbury reported its "best Christmas ever" on Wednesday but warned that consumers were likely to tighten their belts in the early part of 2014 and cut its sales growth forecast accordingly.
U.K. retailer reports lift in like-for-like sales with Christmas boosting the chain after tough trading in October and November.
LONDON, Jan 8- European stocks edged higher early on Wednesday, led by British supermarket J Sainsbury after a better-than-expected sales update. Shares in Sainsbury rose 3.3 percent at 0802 GMT after it posted a small rise in sales in the 14 weeks to Jan. 4, ahead of analysts' forecasts.
European equities closed lower on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting of the year.
Supermarket Tesco reported a sharp drop in third-quarter like-for-like sales on Wednesday, as the retailer struggles to woo cash-strapped consumers ahead of the key Christmas trading period.
*Analysts forecast Q3 UK underlying sales down 1-2 pct. Tesco, which trails France's Carrefour and U.S. number one Wal-Mart in global sales, has spent more than 1 billion pounds on store revamps, more staff, new product ranges and pricing initiatives in Britain.
Sainsbury's reported half-year underlying pre-tax profit of £400 million on Wednesday, versus £374 million a year ago.
Billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway last week slashed its stake in the world's No.3 retailer, Tesco, by about one-fifth, according to a stock market filing.
European shares closed down on Wednesday, as the U.S. government shutdown continued and jobs data came in weak.
The U.K. supermarket landscape is changing, with Tesco’s long-held place at the top of the market beginning to look shaky.
J Sainsbury, Britain's third-biggest grocer, met forecasts with a pick-up in quarterly sales driven by growth at local convenience stores and online, outperforming rivals including market leader Tesco.
European shares fell lower on Friday, mirroring the negative sentiment in the U.S., after St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the U.S. central bank could taper its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program during its October meeting.
J Sainsbury, Britain's No. 3 supermarket chain, met forecasts for underlying sales growth in its first quarter, outperforming major rivals.
Tesco, the world's third-biggest retailer, slipped back to an underlying sales decline in the U.K. in the first quarter, raising doubts about a costly recovery plan for its home market.
U.K. supermarket Morrisons announced it is going into partnership with online delivery service Ocado on Friday.
In a growing trend, Dairy Crest, one of Britain's top producers of dairy products, has transferred 20,000 pounds of cheddar cheese to its pension fund.
Tesco wrote down the value of its global operations by $3.5 billion and announced plans to exit the U.S., after a year in which profit fell for the first time in two decades.
European shares closed lower on Tuesday as markets await the outcome of a critical vote in Cyprus to tax bank deposits.