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WPP leads FTSE rebound but Rightmove slides

FTSE 100 rebounds after three days of losses, led by positive results for advertising giant WPP.

WPP leads FTSE rebound but Rightmove slides

The FTSE 100 has recouped some of the week's losses, with WPP (WPP) leading a rally as the advertising group reported a softer-than-anticipated fall in underlying sales.

The UK blue-chip index was up 49 points, or 0.7%, at 7,123 with shares in world’s biggest advertising company rising 6.5% to 879.2p after results showed underlying sales fell 0.4%, better than the 0.5% drop forecasted.

Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity Personal Investing, said WPP needed to pull out all the stops to win over beleaguered shareholders following the departure of founder Martin Sorrell and a string of high profile clients. The episode left shares where they were before the dotcom boom nearly 20 years ago, she pointed out.

‘Maintaining the dividend pay-out at 60p a share was good news,’ she said. ‘Now it has to show investors it can get back to being the best it can be. But, much like that now infamous Gillette ad, opinion on whether it can is divided.’

Stocks with exposure to China were lifted by the news index publisher MSCI was quadrupling the weight of China’s mainland shares, A-shares, in its global indices. Luxury fashion brand Burberry (BRBY) rose 2.8% to £19.42.

Rightmove (RMV) was the biggest FTSE 100  faller in the large-cap index, with shares in the online property company down 6% to 453.1p, after it reported its slowest full-year underlying operating profit growth in nine years.

But Charlie Huggins, who holds the shares in his Hargreaves Lansdown Select UK Growth Shares fund, emphasised the company was still delivering double-digit profit increases despite Brexit uncertainty.

‘The reason Rightmove’s business model is so robust is because the majority of its revenue comes from subscriptions, which are not directly linked to housing transaction volumes,’ he said.

‘Even so, the growth the group is achieving is mightily impressive and speaks volumes about the dominance of its model, and the value that its website, data and tools provide to its customers.’  

The business is meanwhile a top 10 holding in star manager Terry Smith’s Smithson (SSON) investment trust.

The FTSE 250 was up 162 points, or 0.9%, to 19,344 with shares in Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) jumping 6.7% to 361.5p after the fund group reported an increased capital surplus, steady margins and lower costs.

Man Group (EMG), however, had less luck in the market today, as the hedge fund manager reported investment losses of $7.7 billion (£5.8 billion), dragging shares down 3.8% to 132.9p.

Coats Group (COA) a favourite stock of Jonathan Brown, manager of the Invesco UK Smaller Companies (IPU) and fund of the same name, dipped 5.4% to 83.8p -

The thread maker said its full-year operating profit suffered due to rising costs and it also warned of macroeconomic uncertainty.

The FTSE Small Cap index edged up 17 points, or 0.3%, to 5,440, led by gains in Robert Walters (RWA) up 9.6% to 576.4p as the recruiter reported an increase in 2018 earnings.

The pound weakened against both the euro and the dollar, down to $1.324 against the US currency. 

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