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UK Equities
Advertising group WPP lights up FTSE 100
From the Financial Times of Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:31:07 GMT

Shares in WPP led a broad rally on the FTSE 100 on Friday after a broker upgrade brought some seasonal cheer to the world’s biggest advertising agency.

The stock rose 3.1 per cent to £13.42 — its best level in nine trading days — after Citigroup lifted its rating on the shares from “neutral” to “buy”.

“Valuation now stands at almost a five-year low versus the market. We continue to have concerns about the agency model, but think risk/reward for WPP looks positive,” Citi said.

Thomas Singlehurst, Citi analyst, said: “2014 has seen a lot of debate about the merit of WPP’s forays into automated media buying. While we see risks, principally relating to conflicts of interest, [in the] medium term, we also acknowledge that its fully owned assets/stakes could be extremely valuable.”

Financial stocks led the advance at sector level, as the prospect of a US rate rise moving further away towards the spring helped sentiment on global markets stay festive. Schroders, the asset manager, rose 1.6 per cent to £27.01 and led the sector. Hargreaves Lansdown was 1.5 per cent higher at £10.03.

Bargain hunters moved in for precious metals stocks after the impact of gold’s two-week retreat left the sector looking like good value. Randgold Resources rose 1.9 per cent to £43.24.

Airlines were higher after the previous session’s news of bid activity in the sector. IAG — the parent of British Airways and Iberia which has approached Ireland’s Aer Lingus about a merger — was 1.2 per cent higher at 469.2p. Aer Lingus rose another 0.7 per cent to €2.00.

Overall, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.6 per cent to 6,503.54 — a six-session high.

“While the Fed remains ‘patient’ regarding a rate rise it looks like the Santa rally will continue as we see out a turbulent week,” said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at stockbroker Interactive Investor. “However, with more trouble brewing for the eurozone it may not be long before investors think again.”



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