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Britain's FTSE pops higher as Pearson rallies
May 5, 2017 / 9:51 AM / in 7 months

Britain's FTSE pops higher as Pearson rallies

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* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct

* Pearson soars after cost-cutting plan

* IAG, Smith & Nephew also issue strong updates

* Miners, energy stocks recover

By Kit Rees

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Robust earnings and a recovery in resources-linked stocks helped Britain’s top share index rise on Friday, putting it on track for a second week of straight gains, with Pearson the standout performer.

Britain’s blue chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.1 percent to 7,255.35 points by 0933 GMT, reversing earlier losses as the oil price paused its slide, supporting mining firms and energy stocks.

A series of well-received updates underpinned gains as the earnings season steamed ahead. Education publisher Pearson was the top riser, soaring 11 percent following its first-quarter update.

Pearson, which has struggled keeping pace with the rise of digital content, issued five profit warnings in the space of four years. In its first-quarter results, the firm cheered investors with a plan to cut costs and a strategic review of its U.S. division.

Pearson’s shares are still down around 8.5 percent year to date, however.

“Most of the optimism this morning appears, in our view, to come from the additional cost-saving plan initiative,” said Neil Campling, head of TMT research at Northern Trust Capital Markets.

“While a positive move in theory, we continue to question why it has taken so long to take action, and why the same will still take almost three years to execute,” Campling said, adding that the share price bounce seemed to reflect investors covering short positions on the stock.

Among other bright spots, British Airways-owner IAG jumped 5 percent after posting a better-than-expected set of results, helping peer easyJet also rise 3.6 percent.

“IAG has reported solid 1Q earnings ... The main reasons were slightly better passenger yields and lower unit fuel costs,” said Rob Byde, transport analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.

“The outlook statement is limited but reiterates that the Group expects profits to improve year-on-year.”

Hip and knee replacement maker Smith & Nephew gained more than 3 percent after its first quarter revenue rose 3 percent as it returned to double-digit growth in emerging markets and knee implants saw a strong performance.

The materials sector added the most points to the index as oil prices edged higher after falling to a five-month low in the previous session on growing concerns about global oversupply.

Miners Glencore, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rose around 2 percent, while gold miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources jumped 4.5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.

BP’s shares were down just 0.2 percent, while Royal Dutch Shell was up 0.3 percent. (Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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