Updates from M&S, Intertek and Aveva

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A better day for investors with banks leading the sentiment uptick. RBS climbed +4.37% to 288p and Lloyds up +3.82% to 67p. Going in the other direction, Rexam slipped -0.66% to 479p.

The German Dax saw a large daily rise, up +2.08%, while the Dow Jones climbed +0.59%, back past the 15,000 threshold to 15,224.

First off, better news from high street bellwether M&S. Group sales climb +3.3% in the 13 weeks to 29 June with total UK sales up +2.7%. There's an encouraging +4.5 improvement in Food sales though M&S' troubled General Merchandise division saw just a +0.5% sales climb overall.

"Tight management of the business has resulted in a clean stock position at the end of the quarter," says the company. "Our new Autumn/Winter collection will start to arrive in stores and online from the end of July with a full launch in September."

M&S.com it says had a "very strong" quarter; its new web platform is on track to launch in Spring 2014 it adds. The international business performed "well across most of the markets we trade in," especially in India, China and the Middle East.

Next, solutions provider Intertek Group says it has acquired Melbourn Scientific Ltd, a specialist pharmaceutical products testing operation. Melbourn is a privately owned UK company near Cambridge, employing more than 80 scientists and staff and reported £4 million of revenue in 2012.

Intertek claims the company has built a strong reputation in the last 24 years with testing and formulation services to the international pharmaceutical industry with a focus on nasally and orally inhaled drugs.

"By combining," says Intertek chief exec Wolfhart Hauser, "our expertise in physical characterisation of medicinal compounds and drug to device interaction with Melbourn's specialist capabilities, we have an unrivalled offering to our clients."

Lastly, an interim from engineering data and design IT player Aveva. The company claims a good start to the financial year in both Engineering & Design Systems and Enterprise Solutions divisions: steady growth in demand in EMEA and Asia Pacific.

In the Americas, there are early signs business activity is beginning to pick up in Brazil, it says. In Engineering & Design Systems, the Oil & Gas market is "highly active", especially offshore.

"Subject to approval by shareholders at the AGM later today," the company confirmed, "the final dividend of 19.5p per share will be paid on 26 July and the special dividend of 147.0p per share will be paid on 9 August 2013."