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Unilever's second-quarter sales growth misses forecasts

LONDON (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever reported underlying sales growth of 5 percent for the second quarter, just shy of market expectations, and said that growth was slowing in emerging markets.

The maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove skincare products said on Thursday that emerging markets grew by 10.3 percent in the quarter, slightly down on the 10.4 percent in the previous quarter, while developed markets fell by 1.3 percent.

"Growth is slowing in emerging markets, as macro-economic headwinds influence consumer behavior," the company said. "Developed markets remain sluggish with little sign of any recovery in North America or Europe."

Analysts had been expecting the firm to report underlying sales growth of 5.5 percent, according to a company compiled consensus of 30 analysts.

The group's strongest growth continued to come from its home care and personal care divisions, up by 10.2 percent and 7.7 percent respectively.

Foods sales were held back by a poor performance in its spreads business with underlying growth of 1 percent, and adverse weather earlier this year hitting ice cream sales, giving growth in refreshments of 1.9 percent.

The company said it had made progress on improving its core operating margin, rising 40 points in the first half to 14.0 percent.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle, Editing by Kate Holton)