Unilever, the consumer goods giant behind brands such as Hellman’s, Persil and PG Tips, was among the standout stocks yesterday on one of the busiest days of the year for corporate reporting.
The group made it onto the top-flight risers board as it reported a steady rise in first-half net profits to €2.4 billion (£1.9bn) with the result boosted by the sale of the firm’s tomato business in Brazil.
Its numbers came in ahead of City hopes and pushed Unilever shares up by more than 5 per cent, gaining 116p to 2,256p.
The wider market, and other European bourses, rallied after the boss of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, pledged to do “whatever it takes” to keep the euro together.
London’s benchmark FTSE-100 index leapt 1.4 per cent, up 74.8 points at 5,573.2, while the Cac-40 in France soared 4.1 per cent, and Germany’s Dax ended 2.8 per cent higher.
Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari, said: “Many have taken [Draghi’s comments] as a hint that the ECB will reopen the securities market programme in which they buy bonds on the secondary market in order to drive down yields.”
On currency markets, sterling, which was hit a day earlier on the news of a shock second-quarter GDP fall, gained against both the euro and the dollar.
ITV surged 6 per cent after its 15 per cent jump in half-year underlying profits to £235 million more than offset expectations for weaker advertising revenues in July and August.
Shares rose 4.5p to 75.9p, while BSkyB was 21.5p higher at 706.5p after it posted record annual operating profits of £1.2bn and unveiled plans for a further £500m share buy-back.
The broadcasters were joined on the risers board by Rolls-Royce after the engine giant reported a 7 per cent rise in underlying profits and said its order book rose 4 per cent to £60.1bn. Shares gained 7 per cent, or 55.5p, to 885p.
NEW YORK: Stocks rode a wave of hope inspired by Draghi’s comments, ignoring mixed corporate results. The Dow closed up by 211.88 points at 12,887.93.
After the bell, shares of Facebook tumbled 11 per cent after reporting poor first quarterly results since its much-vaunted debut.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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