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WPP weighs on FTSE as weak ads market bites

WPP weighs on FTSE as weak ads market bites

WPP (WPP) has weighed on the FTSE 100 after cutting full-year sales targets against the backdrop of a weak advertising market.

Shares in the advertising group tumbled 10.9% to £14.17 on the news, holding back the UK blue-chip index, which edged five points lower to 7,377.

The group, headed by Martin Sorrell (pictured), reported like-for-like sales down 0.5% in the first half of the year, and warned sales could fail to grow over the full year.

Steve Clayton, who holds 3.2% of his HL Select UK Growth Shares fund in the stock, said life was 'getting tougher' for media groups.

'It is hard for all players in media-land at the moment; clients are keeping a tight lid on spending and procurement departments are ruthless in the way they push agencies to lower prices.'

Shore Capital analyst Roddy Davidson, who rates the shares a 'hold', acknowledged that 'deteriorating trading conditions are a concern'.

'That said the group's current valuation already reflects a weakening outlook following a period of share price weakness.'

At the other end of the index, shares in Provident Financial (PFG) jumped 18% to 674p but barely made a dent into yesterday's huge share price fall.

Among 'small cap' stocks, shares in EnQuest (ENQ) tumbled  9.9% to 29.5p after the North Sea oil producer cut full-year production forecasts.

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