April 20, 2017 / 7:38 AM / a year ago

Unilever, Man Group strength boosts European stocks

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) - European shares inched up on Thursday as strong results from Unilever lifted bluechip consumers staple stocks and helped offset weakness in the energy sector.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.3 percent by 0730GMT. The UK’s FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent.

Unilever was among the top boosts on the UK and European benchmarks, after the consumer sector bellwether posted a first-quarter sales beat, helped by price increases.

Unilever’s gains supported the personal and household goods sector which rose up 0.8 percent. Nestle shares rose more than 1 percent.

Energy sector stocks were in the red, however, reeling from a sharp slide in oil prices overnight. Lundin Petroleum and Tullow Oil were among top fallers in the sector.

In another sign of a better backdrop for the asset management industry, British hedge fund Man Group shares rose 4.4 percent after it reported net inflows over the first quarter.

Pandora was up 4.3 percent, regaining ground after a broker downgrade hit it earlier in the week. The company updated its financial reporting structure, maintaining its outlook for 2017.

Construction equipment rental company Ashtead fell 3.7 percent after its U.S. peer United Rentals’ results disappointed. (Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Vikram Subhedar)

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