Unilever's shares increased by more than 3% today after reporting higher fourth-quarter sales and announcing a €1.5 billion share buyback program. It posted a slight decline in turnover for 2023.

British American Tobacco's shares climbed 6.7% following a full-year profit beat and a forecast for low-single digit organic revenue growth in 2024. British American Tobacco reported a pretax loss of £17.06 billion for 2023, compared to a profit of £9.32 billion the previous year. The loss was primarily due to a write-down of £27.6 billion, with £27.3 billion related to its U.S. cigarette brands as the company shifts focus to smokeless products. Despite the loss, the company backed its forecasts for growth in 2024 and declared a dividend of 235.52 pence per share, up from 230.9 pence.

Compass Group's shares also rose by 3.5% due to an increase in first-quarter organic revenue.

Anglo American disclosed varied production results for FY23, with a 24% increase in copper output and a 7% rise in steelmaking coal output. However, production of platinum group metals, diamonds, and manganese ore declined by 8%, 5%, and 2%, respectively. The company maintained its guidance for 2024.

Watches of Switzerland Group reported a decline in fiscal third-quarter revenue to £397 million from £407 million a year earlier. The company confirmed its full-year revenue guidance range of £1.53 billion to £1.55 billion.

AstraZeneca fell 2.3% although it anticipates double-digit growth in revenue and core earnings per share for 2024. The pharmaceutical company reported core EPS of $1.45 for the fourth quarter, slightly below the consensus estimate of $1.50. Total revenue for the quarter was $12.02 billion, slightly ahead of the $12.01 billion forecast.

In other news, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Aviva's proposed acquisition of AIG Life to determine if it would substantially reduce competition in the UK.

The UK housing market continued to recover in January, with new buyer enquiries at their strongest in nearly two years, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. House prices, while still negative, showed improvement, and the report suggests strengthening momentum in the property market.

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