Pick of the early market news

While Greece closed in on a bail-out deal, the markets held steady yesterday. The FTSE 100 slipped -14.33 points to 5,875 (biggest fallers were Weir Group and International Power, down -3.22% and -2.83% respectively).

The German Dax lost a little grip, falling -0.08% as did the French Cac 40 (-0.05%). The Dow Jones flat-lined, ending Wednesday just 5.75 points higher at 12,883.
First off the blocks is aero engine builder Rolls-Royce. Full year numbers see an order book up 5% worth £62.2bn helped by new orders from Singapore Airlines, Norwegian Airlines and Emirates Airlines. This brings record underlying profits before tax of £1.16bn with it, a 21% lift on the previous year.

"This strong performance," said Rolls Royce, "demonstrates the increasing resilience of our business and underpins our confidence for the future which is reflected in a final payment to shareholders of 10.6p per share, bringing the full year payment to 17.5p per share."

Next, Diageo. The Guinness and Smirnoff maker saw sales push 8% higher to £5.76bn compared to £5.32bn for the six months up to the end of December. However net profits have slipped 20% to £953m compared to £1.19bn. Operating profit before exceptional items climbed to £1.87bn from £1.73bn.

Diageo's emerging market business saw net sales expand 18% - emerging markets now account for almost 40% of Diageo's business. However the company remains cautious on consumer confidence, though these first half results have positioned it well claims Diageo.

"The increase of 7% in the interim dividend signals our confidence that we are making a strong business stronger."

Lastly, an interim from Tate & Lyle. The company delivered a "solid performance" in the third quarter (up to 31 December 2011) with operating profits "in line with our expectations and we remain on track to deliver a good performance for the financial year ending 31 March 2012," said the company.

"The Group has performed well during the first nine months of the financial year. While we recognise the wider uncertainties in the global economy, we remain on track to deliver a good performance for the full financial year."

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