Updates from Thomas Cook and Cranswick

Updated: 
The FTSE 100 climbed almost 5 points on Friday to 6,453, but it was down 60 points on the week. Standard Life was Friday's biggest climber, up +2.52% to 354.10p while Kingfisher, going in the other direction, dipped -2.89% to 369p.

Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei 225 is down -1.01% to 13,882, not helped by a strengthening yen.

We start with a first half trading update from Cranswick. Underlying turnover in the six months to 30 September 2013 was 13 per cent ahead of last year, with fresh pork and bacon categories growing particularly strongly, Cranswick claims.

The low relative price of pork to other proteins was key to this trend. Pig prices increased during the first quarter of the financial year; prices increased further in July to a new record high and remained at this level throughout the second quarter.

"Total sales," says the company, "for the six months were 15 per cent higher after taking into account the contribution from Kingston Foods which was acquired on 29 June 2012 and modest third party sales made by Wayland Farms which was acquired on 29 April 2013."

Next, Thomas Cook and news the travel company - its share have soared from 11.2p to 144p in the last year - has sold 100% of the Thomas Cook Egypt and Thomas Cook Lebanon businesses to Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo Co WLL of Bahrain for £6.5m.

The outgoing Thomas Cook Egypt and Thomas Cook Lebanon businesses offer corporate and leisure travel to Egyptian and Lebanese customers, plus foreign exchange services. Thomas Cook says it continues to offer travel services to Egypt.

Although Thomas Cook has had a stellar run in the last year, it recently warned of a slower start to the winter booking season; it also acknowledged though that average selling prices were on the up.

Finally, can Brits make German trains run on time? National Express says it has been shortlisted for the Berlin Ringbahn, the railway line of the Berlin S-Bahn around the city centre of Berlin, currently operated by Deutsche Bahn.

"Following on from our recent success in winning two contracts to operate regional rail services in North-Rhine Westphalia," says Dean Finch, National Express group chief exec, "it confirms that our experience as the operator of the UK's leading franchise is recognised internationally."

National Express, cashing in on a liberalised up European train market, signed a 15-year deal worth €1.6bn to run the North Rhine Westphalia contract.

Breaking news: Airbus is claiming a $9.5bn (£5.9bn) deal with Japan Airlines to sell more than 30 of the company's A350 planes."

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