Updates from Unilever, Diageo and Persimmon

Unilever sees underlying sales climb 2.8% meanwhile housebuilder Persimmon claims asking prices surge

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Persil, Diageo, Unilever, PersimmonMore buoyancy for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, climbing 21.5 points to 7,096.7. Sports Direct International and Sainsbury's shares were the main winners, up 3.8% and 3.5% respectively (to 670p and 284.7p). CRH climbed 3% to 1857p. In contrast, Bunzl slipped 2.6% to 1860p while IAG dropped 2% to 583.50p.

Over in the US the Dow Jones climbed 75.9 points to 18,112.6 helped by oil price climbs and a 4.2% surge from Intel plus a 2.6% rise from Caterpillar.

Plenty of corporate news: we start with first quarter numbers from Bovril and Persil maker Unilever. Turnover is up 12.3% to €12.8 billion including a positive currency impact of 10.6% while there's underlying sales growth of 2.8% with emerging markets up 5.4%.

European markets still remain weak. Emerging markets have seen some improvement in India and Diageo reports more stable conditions in China but there's a sales deterioration in Brazil and Russia for the consumer goods maker.

"The actions we have been taking," says chief exec Paul Polman, "to put us on track for higher levels of growth are starting to pay off. We have further strengthened the innovation pipeline, and are increasing investment behind the core of our brands, as well as extending into premium segments and new markets."

We move onto house builder Persimmon. Sales over the first fifteen weeks of the year has resulted in forward sales revenue, including legal completions taken so far this year, climbing 7% higher to £2bn (2014: £1.87bn).

Persimmon claims weekly private sales rate per site for the period were 6% ahead and there's an average selling price of £207,900, 4% higher than last year. It says it has opened 85 of 120 new sites planned for the first half of 2015.

"The number of customers visiting our development sites remains in line with the strong comparative period last year," says Persimmon. "Cancellation rates have continued to run at historically low levels."

Lastly, Diageo. In the nine months to 31 March, net sales dipped 0.3% on an organic basis and were down 0.7% in the quarter, with volume down 1.7% in the nine month period and 0.8% in the quarter says the Johnnie Walker maker.

However net sales grew 4.6%. Acquisitions, principally United Spirits Limited, contributed £700 million offset by an adverse impact of currency movements of £298m and a £28m cut from disposals.

Diageo's performance reflects "continued tough conditions," says boss Ian Menezes, "in the emerging markets and subdued consumer demand in some developed markets. However it also reflects the actions we have taken to ensure we are building a stronger business."

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