- Packaging firm DS Smith flagged improving market conditions and maintained its own financial performance guidance despite the obvious uncertainties around the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares in the FTSE 250 business rallied 3% to 300.6p as investors welcomed news that market trends and the company's performance had continued to improve since issuing its previous update on 8 September.

The company said that corrugated box volumes in and throughout Q2 have returned to growth versus the comparable prior year period following the challenges of Q1, with first half volumes likely to be circa 1.5% lower than the interim period of 2019.

'The regional trends described in September have also continued, with positive corrugated box growth seen in both Europe and the US, reflecting ongoing market share gains, in particular with our large FMCG and e-commerce customers', the company said.

'I am pleased with the performance of the Group in the first half of the year, in what remains a difficult and uncertain economic environment caused by Covid', said Miles Roberts, chief executive. 'We continue to be excited by the underlying drivers of demand for our sustainable corrugated packaging and our leading offerings for FMCG and e-commerce customers, together with our focus on cost efficiency and cash generation, give us confidence in the business going forward.' Results for the first half to 31 October will be announced on 10 December, the company confirmed. At 8:25am: [LON:SMDS] Smith Ds PLC share price was +9.45p at 301.25p

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