StockMarketWire.com - UK stocks pushed higher in early trade on Tuesday as a mixed bag of corporate earnings updates demonstrated that while demand in the economy is recovering, cost pressures are mounting.

At 0825, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 21.62 points, or 0.3%, at 7,244.44.

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser rallied 5.3% to £57.59 after it upgraded annual sales guidance following a rise in quarterly like-for-like revenue and 'encouraging' start to the cold and flu season.

Revenue for the three months through September fell 6.8% to £3.28 billion thanks to asset sales and currency headwinds, though like-for-like revenue rose 3.3%.

Like-for-like net revenue for the full year was now expected to grow by 1-3%, Reckitt Benckiser said.

Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn hotel chain, gained 1.0% to £31.87, having posted a narrower first-half loss as travel markets showed signs of recovery following an easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Whitbread's revenue more than doubled to £661.6 million but was still 39% below the £1.08 billion for the corresponding period two years' prior. The company did not declare an interim dividend.

Distribution and services group Bunzl added 1.3% to £26.20 as it reported a 7.8% rise in third-quarter revenue.

Looking ahead, Bunzl said it now expected slight underlying revenue growth in 2021 compared to 2020 at constant exchange rates, with margins to return to historical levels in 2022.

Craft and gift products group IG Design plunged 27% to 322p after it warned on profit, citing supply-chain disruptions and rising costs that are hurting margins and look set to continue into fiscal 2023.

IG Design was now expecting full-year operating margins to be 175-to-225 basis points lower year-on-year, resulting in earnings 'significantly' below current market expectations.

IT products and services group Softcat dropped 5.2% to £19.14 even as it hiked its ordinary and special dividends on the back of a 27% jump in annual profit.

Softcat, however, forecast a flat profit performance in the current year.

Plastics company Essentra firmed 5.1% to 287.5p on announcing that it was reviewing strategic options for its filters business that could include a full divestment.

Essentra also reported a 5.1% rise in third-quarter like-for-like revenue and said it was trading in line with market expectations for the full year.

Oil services company Petrofac tumbled 18% to 128.92p as it booked a first-half loss after it incurred penalties related to a bribery investigation by the UK's Serious Fraud Office.

Petrofac also announced a refinancing package that included a $275 million equity raising at a deeply discounted 115p per share.

Online retailer THG, also known as The Hut Group, shed 2.9% to 297.78p as it reported a 34% rise in third-quarter revenue, while affirming its revenue guidance for the full year.

THG also announced that it had commenced a process to appoint an independent non-executive chairman in preparation for a premium listing in London.

Staffing group Empresaria jumped 5.3% to 91.08p, having upgraded its annual profit outlook as a labour shortage continued to spur demand for recruitment services.

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