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THE FTSE 100 ended the week on a positive note yesterday, helped by strong gains from big hitters WPP and London Stock Exchange Group. London's premier index closed up 32 points, or 0.45%, at 7,103.73 as it was also boosted by better than expected economic data from China.

"A mixture of corporate results, a dip in sterling and a recovery rally in the resources sector helped the FTSE 100 to a decent start on Friday after a tricky week for the index. Sentiment was helped by better than expected Chinese manufacturing figures with a solid increase in new orders," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

In stocks, advertising giant WPP led the FTSE 100 higher, gaining 40.4p to close at 866.2p. It came despite the firm reporting a hefty drop in annual profit and warning that challenging conditions will persist into the first half of 2019.

The group posted a 30.6% decline in full-year pre-tax profit to PS1.46bn for 2018, while revenue fell 1.3% to PS15.6bn. Like-for-like sales dipped 0.4%. WPP blamed the impact of restructuring and transformation costs, as well as a goodwill impairment, but investors took solace in the company's longer term prospects.

Also riding high was London Stock Exchange Group itself. The exchange operator booked a 14% rise in operating profit to PS751m in 2018, while revenue jumped 8% to PS1.9bn.

The pound, meanwhile, was trading 0.3% lower versus the US dollar at 1.322 at the London market close. Against the euro, sterling was down 0.4% at 1.162. The British currency slipped on data showing that manufacturing output in the UK hit a four-month low in February.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 2, 2019
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