Pick of the early market news

The FTSE 100 ended Friday at 5,911 points, -20.12 points down. Overnight today (Monday) Asian stocks have sunk with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index giving up 1.3% and the Japanese Nikkei down -1%.

The muted market reaction was echoed by the Dow Jones on Friday, slipping -0.02% to 12,977 points after busting the 13k threshold earlier in the week.
We commence with product testing player Intertek. Pre-tax profits have climbed 23% to £260.1m - substantially above market expectations of £237m - while revenues climbed to £1,749m compared to £1,374m last year, a 27% leap.

"All five divisions contributed to our organic growth," said CEO Wolfhart Hauser, "with a very good performance from the Commodities division and a second half acceleration from the Consumer Goods division. We extended our capabilities and expertise across the Group investing £81 million in new facilities and equipment."

Intertek's board is recommending a full year dividend of 33.7p per share, an increase of 20%, paid on 22 June 2012 to shareholders on the register at close of business on 8 June 2012.

Next, an interim from Ocado. The online grocer says gross sales increased 10.9% to £162.1m for the 12 weeks to 19 February 2012 (2011: £146.2m) with average orders per week for the 12 weeks to 19 February 2012 increasing 13.4% to 116,987 from 103,207. However average order size for the 12 weeks to 19 February 2012 was down to £115.49 (£118.06 equivalent period, 2011).

Ocado claims operational performance improved with 93.2% of orders on time or early (92.3% FY11 Q1) and 98.2% of items delivered as ordered (98.0% FY11 Q1).

"Evidence suggests," says Ocado boss Tim Steiner, "we have largely overcome the operational challenges we faced in expanding our Hatfield capacity in the second half of 2011, and are set to meet growing demand through the rest of the year. We expect to see acceleration in sales growth as the year progresses."

Lastly, a word on Tesco. After a grim start to 2012 - its profits warning saw Tesco share plunge more than 15% - Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke says the UK's largest private sector employer is to create 20,000 new UK jobs. An expansion of the supermarket's apprenticeship program to provide 10,000 placements is also announced.

"With youth unemployment at record levels, we're determined to target many of our new jobs at young people currently out of work - so that in this difficult jobs market those who need help the most will get it," said Tesco UK CEO Richard Brasher.

Tesco shares at 319p though remain not far off a recent year low (311p). Tesco has also priced, according to the FT, its initial public offering of its Thailand property fund at Bt10.4 per unit, set to raise Bt18.4bn ($602m). This IPO will likely make it Thailand's largest property fund and be Asia's second-largest IPO this year.

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