(Bloomberg) -- Unilever's signal this morning that the pace of cost increases may slow in the second half of the year resembles light at the end of what feels like a very long tunnel. Still, until that happens, elevated prices of the company’s everyday products like Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise will continue to squeeze people's wallets, and may mean they'll trade down or buy less.

Here’s the key business news from London this morning:

In The City

AstraZeneca Plc: The pharmaceutical giant beat estimates in the fourth quarter, saying it expects earnings to rise this year.

  • CEO Pascal Soriot said the company will start 30 Phase III trials in 2023, 10 of which could deliver peak year sales of over $1 billion

Unilever Plc: The consumer products giant suggested rapid price growth may slow later this year, although that’s not before it experiences around €1.5 billion in higher costs in the first half. 

  • While prices grow, volumes will probably decline and won’t recover until inflation eases, the company said, indicating that higher prices are weighing on consumer demand

British American Tobacco Plc: The maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes has decided to exit around 30 markets, meaning it will sell about 20 billion fewer cigarettes.

In Westminster

Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party, who Rishi Sunak appointed earlier this week, said he would support the death penalty. He told Spectator magazine: “Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don’t you? 100% success rate.”

In Case You Missed It 

Shell Plc’s board faces a new front in climate litigation as a group of frustrated shareholders sue the oil giant’s directors in the UK.

Investment management company AllianceBernstein Holding LP has eliminated more than 100 jobs from its workforce including roles in the UK, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. 

Looking Ahead 

UK GDP data will likely take centre stage tomorrow morning. Bloomberg economists expect data to show the UK dodged a recession in the last quarter of the year.

For a more considered take on the UK's economic and financial news, sign up to Money Distilled with John Stepek.

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