Pick of the early market news

Despite Mervyn King's grim reading of the economy yesterday, the FTSE 100 slipped just eight points to 5,509.

More falls today? Last night the NYSE closed down 1.57% while the S&P 500 lost 1.65%. To add to the drama, the chief of the European arm of the IMF has just resigned. Plenty of news to absorb while Angela Merkel claims Germany is willing to give up some national sovereignty to save the euro... Hold tight, folks.

Although a tad early, let's start with a drink. Specifically lager maker SABMiller. In an interim, reported group revenues are up 10% with revenue growth - constant currency - of 6%. Reported EBITA are up strongly across all emerging markets with Asia (up 29%) and Latin America (up 16%) clearly stand-out performers. But US sales are down by 6%.

"Top and bottom line growth has been strong in most of our developing market businesses, propelled by our continued investment in brands, sales and marketing capability and production capacity," said boss Graham Mackay. "Market conditions have remained challenging in the USA and much of Europe and increases in input costs have continued, as expected."

Global packaging company Rexam also issued an interim statement this morning. Group Rexam performance is in line with expectations and the company claims they're on track for the full year. Overall results in Beverage Cans are slightly ahead of plans, supported by tight cost control, claims Rexam. In Europe volume growth, excluding Russia, continued in line with the first half though volumes in Russia were soft, as expected, relative to strong previous year performance.

"In North America, standard can volumes continued in line with the first half, and with strong growth in specialty cans the business remains on track to deliver underlying operating profit in 2011 ahead of that in 2010."

Looking forward into the next year, Rexam has to contend with lower GDP growth in several of its major markets. "As previously indicated, some specific challenges as we absorb £20m of higher metal conversion costs in European Beverage Cans and the impact of a key Healthcare product coming off patent. Nevertheless, at this early stage we expect 2012 to be a year of further progress," said boss Graham Chipchase.

Finally, a brief visit to Mothercare. It's a tale of two halves with strong first half year international sales, up 15.7% to £338.3m, while UK total sales slipped 4.3% to £281.1m. Mothercare is clearly under pressure in the UK. It recently issued a profits warning after like-for-like sales slumped 9.6% in the 12 weeks to 1 October. But changes are afoot.

"We are announcing today a structural and operational review of our planned UK business size and shape," says exec chairman Alan Parker. "This review will consider the number, format and location of retail outlets and the plan for e-commerce. It will also include the right-sizing of our overheads to fit the new operating base."

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