Pick of the early morning news

The FTSE 100 took a -0.95% bump yesterday, falling to 5,871 points; Essar Energy and Weir Group took the biggest punches, down -7.5% and -4.49% respectively. However ITV soared 6.77% and Capita rose 2.13%.

Much of the caution yesterday came from the amount of cheap money - €530bn - on offer for struggling financial institutions. Correspondingly the German Dax saw a -0.46% fall.
We start with hedge fund player Man Group. Outflows have slowed and, in line with previous estimates, profits before tax for the nine months up to 31 December for continuing operations came in at $193 million (12 months ended 31 March 2011: $324 million).

Funds under management increased to $59.5 billion at the end of February, principally as a result of performance says Man. Investor sentiment has also improved compared to the last quarter of 2011 it says.

"But sentiment remains fragile and it is likely to take a longer period of stability in markets and continued performance before this translates into increased sales and net inflows."

Companies preparing for the Olympics has helped advertiser WPP see sales expand 7.4%. Revenues climbed to £10bn in 2011, slightly above analyst estimates. Adjusted earnings per share rose to 67.7 pence, a 20% rise. WPP also predicts revenue and gross margin rises of 4% for 2012.

Billings were up 4.9% at £44.792bn. Estimated net new business billings of £3.225bn were won in the year, up over 7% on last year, placing the Group first or second in all leading net new business tables said the company.

"These wins continued into the second half of the year with several very large industry-leading advertising, digital and media assignments, the full benefit of which was seen in Group revenues in late 2011 and will continue in 2012," the company added.

Finally, an interim from bus and train player Stagecoach. Like-for-like revenue growth in UK Bus operations pushed 3% higher in the 40 weeks up to 5 February. Like-for-like revenue growth in UK Rail was 9.5% higher for the same period, excluding tram businesses. while North America saw 13% like-for-like revenue improvement.

"The Group continues to maintain a strong financial position with investment grade credit ratings and substantial headroom under its debt facilities," it said. It added that The Group continues to evaluate other rail franchise opportunities, including the new West Coat Trains rail franchise.

"Overall current trading remains good and we believe the prospects for the Group remain positive."

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