Unilever leads FTSE 100 higher

Unilever leads FTSE 100 higher
Unilever leads FTSE 100 higher
Traders in LondonImage copyright AFP

Shares in Unilever were one of the biggest winners on the FTSE 100 after the company reported strong sales.

The maker of Dove soap said sales rose 2.9% in its first quarter, which was stronger growth than had been expected. Shares rose 1.5%.

In February Unilever rejected a takeover approach from rival Kraft Heinz.

Overall the benchmark FTSE 100 was flat in early trading.

"Unilever have been pushed by the Kraft Heinz approach into a more radical pace and scale of change than they had originally chosen for themselves. Trading is still at the sluggish end of the dial, but we think the group has enormous potential to steadily boost returns whilst compounding sales over time," said Steve Clayton, fund manager at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Ashtead Group was the biggest loser on the FTSE 100, with a 5% fall. Shares were hit after United Rentals, a rival equipment rental firm, warned that rental rates remain under pressure.

Shares in Debenhams fell 3.6% after the company announced the outcome of a strategic review which includes a review of 10 stores for closure.

On the currency markets the pound was up half a cent against the dollar at $1.2825. Against the euro it was a touch higher at 1.1938 euros.

Equipment rental firm Ashtead Group was the biggest FTSE 100 loser, down 5%.

More than two-thirds of profits for FTSE 100 companies are earned overseas, making them vulnerable to a stronger pound.


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