Unilever boosts FTSE 100 as it edges towards 6,200

The leading share index edged up towards the 6,200 level this morning, led by consumer goods group Unilever.

The stock was the strongest riser on the FTSE 100 this morning, on the back of a buoyant trading statement. Turnover jumped 10.5 per cent in 2012, boosted by growth in emerging markets.

Martin Deboo at Investec Securities said: “The fourth quarter and full-year 2012 numbers have beaten consensus expectations on the key metrics of organic growth and core margins. This caps a strong year for Unilever and we see the trends as supportive of our ‘buy’ case.”

Miners Randgold Resources and BHP Billiton rose 1.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively. Australian miner BHP Billiton last night posted a three per cent jump in quarterly iron ore output.

Explorer Tullow Oil was up 1.04 per cent in early deals, buoyed by the completion of its Spring Energy Norway acquisition yesterday.

Heading up the blue chip losers this morning was travel company Tui Travel, as its German parent company Tui AG said it had no intention of making an offer for majority-owned unit Tui Travel. The shares fell more than 4.5 per cent in early trading.

Support services firm Compass Group fell 2.1 per cent, while Mexican miner Fresnillo – which yesterday posted a relatively buoyant trading update – continued its losses to fall 1.86 per cent in early deals.

However, on the wider index, the real loser was steelmaker Severfield-Rowen, which shed 34.1 per cent. This morning it said chief executive Tom Haughey had quit after costs overran on the Cheesegrater project in Leadenhall.

Banking shares were mainly in negative territory in early deals. HSBC fell 0.3 per cent, RBS shed 0.39 per cent and Lloyds Banking Group was down 1.17 per cent. Only Barclays managed to chalk up a gain, rising 0.66 per cent.