Pick of the early market news

Updated: 
The FTSE 100 was on the rise yesterday, lifting 0.94% to 5,782 due to a mixture of optimism from oil and energy stocks. Hopes were also raised with Eurozone finance ministers, meeting in Brussels. The German Dax correspondingly rose 0.5% while the French Cac 40 lifted 0.51%. The boss of the IMF has again urged action in order to avoid a '1930's moment', just ahead of the upcoming Davos meeting on on 30 January.


Let's commence with an interim from Sage Group. Trading performance has been "satisfactory" and is in-line with expectations for the year. "Strong" operating cash generation continues with £200m generated from the disposal of Sage Software Healthcare LLC to Vista Equity Partners.

"The strong fundamentals of Sage's business positions us well to cope with the ups and downs of the economic cycle," says Sage chief exec Guy Berruyer. "We are confident that the business priorities, on which we are focused to drive growth, will bear fruit as the year progresses but we remain watchful of the European environment in particular."

Next up , commercial property developer Land Securities. It claims in a third quarter interim that it continues to "execute well against its operational targets for the business with void levels reduced further and a number of development lettings completed."

Land Securities has refinanced more than £1bn of its bank facilities and says it's well placed with long average duration of debt, moderate balance sheet gearing and plenty of capacity to invest. Given the economic uncertainty, letting transactions are taking longer to execute, it acknowledges.

"We expect the economic uncertainty to continue in the near term, but we remain confident of our ability to withstand economic fluctuations and to take advantage of opportunities that may arise from the scarcity of bank funding, said chief exec Francis Salway.

Lastly, half-year numbers from beauty player PZ Cussons. Revenue is up 10.5% to £414m while pre-tax profits have risen 13% to £40.2m. Its balance sheet remains "healthy" despite higher inventory levels in some markets.

Good revenue growth in the UK continues with washing and bathing division driven by new product launches and strong performance of its newly formed Beauty division. New product launches are performing well, despite tougher trading conditions in all UK distribution channels.

"Overall," says PZ Cussons chairman Richard Harvey, "we anticipate that results for the full year will be towards the bottom end of the range of current expectations."

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