Updates from ITV, Marston's and Old Mutual

Packaging operator Mondi shares surges 9% meanwhile ITV revenues climb strongly in the first quarter

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Mondi, Marston's ITV, Old Mutual
A modest 15 points were added to the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, ending at 6,949.6. By a big margin Mondi was the biggest riser, up almost 9% to 1414p after investors cheered a strong start to the year for the packaging player. Fresnillo shares jumped 5% to 750p while both housebuilders Persimmon and Barratt were also up strongly, 4% and 3.4% respectively.

Stateside, the Dow Jones flat-lined, down seven points, ending at 18,060.4, its third day of straight successive losses.

The main news this morning is a quarterly trading update from ITV. Total external revenues climb 14% to £665m (2014: £585m) while Broadcast & Online revenues climb 10% to £530m (2014: £480m). ITV Studios revenue climbs 17% to £224m (2014: £192m) with 8% organic growth claimed.

Looking forward, ITV net advertising revenue is expected to be up around 5% in the first half of the year. There was no detail on profits. ITV shares closed yesterday ats 260p, close to a five-year high.

"We've had a strong start to the year," says boss Adam Crozier, "with further growth across all parts of the business as we continue to deliver against our strategy."

Moving on, next, to a quarterly update from fund manager Old Mutual. It claims gross sales of £7.3bn, up 18% with Old Mutual Emerging Markets up 20% at £2.7bn and Old Mutual Wealth up 16% at £4.6bn.

Its Wealth platform sales were up 15%, pension sales climbed 40%, ISA sales were up 20% and funds under management hit £100bn at the quarter end claims the FTSE 100 South African operator.

"We believe," says boss Julian Roberts, "our vertically-integrated UK model is well positioned to take advantage of the changes to the UK pension regime. Overall we expect continued sound performance for the current year."

Lastly, a look at pub player Marston's numbers for the 26 weeks up to 4 April. Underlying Group revenue climbs 3% to £384.5m while underlying profit before tax is up 2% to £29.6m.

The brewer of Pedigree bitter claims underlying earnings per share rises 2% to 4.2 pence per share. The interim dividend was up 4% to 2.5 pence per share.

"Profits," says boss Ralph Findlay, "have increased in each of our trading segments...and we remain on track to complete 25 new-builds this year with excellent visibility on our site pipeline in 2015 and 2016."

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