LONDON MARKETS: FTSE 100 Gains Ground As ITV Bounces Up; GDP Data On Deck

By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

British economy may have grown by 0.3% in second quarter

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U.K. stocks moved higher Wednesday, buoyed by a rise for broadcaster ITV PLC after its financial update, as investors waited for an update on the health of the British economy.

The FTSE 100 index picked up 0.4% to 7,465.12, led higher by consumer-related and oil-and-gas shares. But the financial and basic materials sectors pulled lower. The index on Tuesday advanced 0.8% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-advances-with-oil-stocks-up-jimmy-choo-rallies-2017-07-25), helped by gains for energy and mining stocks.

ITV (ITV.LN) topped the London benchmark early Wednesday, with a 4% rise that put the stock on course for its strongest gain since March. The maker of "Downton Abbey" backed its 2017 guidance and raised its dividend (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/itv-profit-falls-16-but-dividend-is-raised-2017-07-26), saying its 16% fall in first-half pretax profit was in line with its expectations.

Stock movers: Compass Group PLC shares (CPG.LN) climbed 1.8% after the catering services company said reported a rise in third-quarter revenue and backed its full-year expectations.

Also higher, Fresnillo PLC (FRES.LN) was up 0.3%. The miner reaffirmed its 2017 production guidance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fresnillo-gold-silver-production-rises-2017-07-26) as it reported higher silver and gold output for the second quarter.

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But Sage Group PLC (SGE.LN) shares lost 3.5% after the company said organic software and software related services dropped by 5.9% for the first nine months of the year. The financial software maker also said it's buying Intacct Corp., a cloud-based financial management software maker based in San Jose, Calif., for GBP654 million ($850 million).

Shares of engineering group GKN PLC (GKN.LN) fell 2.9% after the company said first-half pretax profit more than tripled to 559 million pounds (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gkn-earnings-rise-offers-upbeat-2017-outlook-2017-07-26)($719.9 million). The aerospace and automotive parts supplier said it has closed its defined benefit pension scheme.

Economic data: A first reading of U.K. gross domestic product in the second quarter is due for release at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time, from the Office for National Statistics.

The British economy is expected to have grown by 0.3% on the quarter, and by 1.7% year-over-year, according to a FactSet survey of economists. In the first quarter, GDP expanded by modest 0.2%.

A report on services-sector activity in May is scheduled for release at 9:30 a.m. London time.

Ahead of the economic updates, the pound bought $1.3011 compared with $1.3026 late Tuesday in New York.

After trading closes in London, the U.S. Federal Reserve will announce its latest monetary policy decision. U.K. investors closely watch U.S. central bank moves, as they can drive price changes in the pound and in government bonds, as well as shift sentiment.

See:Fed to stick to plans for rate hike, balance-sheet selloff this year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/no-retreat-fed-to-stick-to-plans-for-rate-hike-balance-sheet-selloff-this-year-2017-07-24)

The Federal Open Market Committee decision is due at 7 p.m. London time, or 2 p.m. Eastern.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 26, 2017 04:13 ET (08:13 GMT)