March 1, 2019 / 8:58 AM / 2 months ago

UK main index bounces back on WPP strength

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* FTSE 100, FTSE 250 up 0.4 pct

* WPP surges as investors cheer 2018 results

* Jupiter Fund Management best mid-cap gainer

* Robert Walters jumps on higher earnings

March 1 (Reuters) - A surge in WPP shares after it reported an underlying sales dip that was better than feared helped the British blue-chip bourse snap a three-day losing streak on Friday, while a weaker sterling also lifted the dollar earners.

The FTSE 100 and the midcap index were both 0.4 percent higher by 0823 GMT.

WPP, the world’s biggest advertising company, jumped as much as 8 percent after results showed that although underlying net sales fell 0.4 percent in 2018, it was better than a forecast of a 0.5 percent dip.

Friday’s rise placed WPP on course for its best day in nearly a year.

News that index publisher MSCI would raise the weight of Chinese mainland shares in its global benchmarks also boosted British stocks that have a greater exposure to Asia. Luxury brand Burberry added 2.3 percent with HSBC also rising slightly.

Property website Rightmove was the biggest blue-chip faller. The stock dropped over 5 percent after the company reported its slowest full-year underlying operating profit growth in nine years.

Among midcaps, asset manager Jupiter Fund Management jumped 9 percent after it said its capital surplus had increased, margins were steady and costs were set to be lower in the year ahead.

But hedge fund firm Man Group slipped 5 percent as its full-year results were hit by investment losses of $7.7 billion.

Industrial thread manufacturer Coats Group also underperformed with a 6 percent slump as its full-year operating profit was hit by a rise in costs and it warned on current macroeconomic uncertainties.

Specialised engineering company IMI advanced 4.4 percent after reporting a rise in earnings, announcing a dividend increase and a CEO change.

Small-cap recruiter Robert Walters was on track for its best day in over two and a half years after it reported a jump in 2018 earnings.

Its shares surged 11 percent as investors focussed on the positive results rather than a cautious tone set by the company on Brexit and its impact on confidence. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru Editing by Keith Weir)

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