European stocks have retreated from 5 year highs after the European Commission lowered the zone’s growth forecast. The zone’s economy is expected to shrink by 0.4% this year before recovering to 1.1% in 2014, revised lower from 1.2%. The revision is a further reminder of the hurdles still facing a European recovery, expecting near record levels of unemployment to remain until 2015. UK performance continues to diverge from the mainland, with record services PMI growth sending Sterling into orbit. The number came in at 62.5, smashing forecasts to keep the UK recovery story firmly on track. Marks and Spencer’s pre-tax profit dropped 8.9% but did beat some bearish expectations as food sales again outperformed to post a 2.5% increase in sales. Unfortunately the trend continues with non-food items, down 1.5% despite launching a new winter range in September. The results will put the squeeze on CEO Marc Bolland, with the retailers new strategy focusing on returning clothing ranges to their former glory, however it should be noted that a warm Autumn has hampered sales, and perhaps we should wait for next quarter before casting any vote. Unfortunately for Bolland, there were no such weather issues for Primark, with total sales surging 22%, helping AB foods to a 13% gain in pre-tax profits despite losses from its AB sugar division after oversupply took market prices to three year lows in the summer. Primark’s simple low price range and dynamic trend strategy has seen it swallow market share since the 2008 crisis, with M&S struggling to find its target audience in the current market. A threefold increase in pre-tax profits see Blinkx stock rampant this morning, with the advertising and media firm up over 11%. A large increase in online advertising was the main driver, with a further boost from US acquisition Grab Media also welcomed by investors. On the continent, a profit miss from BMW has forced the stock lower as large scale investment into an electric future weigh on the books for the quarter. It remains to see if the move to front run the luxury sector in large scale electric investment will bear fruit in the future, but early indications are strong. Over 8000 i3’s have already been reserved, prompting the firm to consider hiking production capacity already.