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Diageo reports surprise rise in underlying sales growth

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Jan 28 (Reuters) - Diageo reported a surprise rise in underlying net sales growth for the first half of its year on Thursday, as strong demand at retail stores in the United States made up for weak sales at bars and restaurants in Europe.

The world's largest spirits maker reported a 1% rise in organic net sales growth for the six months to Dec. 30, compared with the drop of 4.6% that analysts had expected, according to company supplied estimates.

The company also raised its interim dividend by 2% to 27.96 pence per share. (Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)