Updates from WPP, Evraz and Hays

More drift for markets. The FTSE 100 ended Wednesday -0.56% down at 5,743 points. Reed Elsevier was the biggest riser, up +1.90% while Glencore Int sank -4.04%.

Pessimism - dipping commodity prices and earnings - seeped across Asia today with the Hang Seng dipping -1.14% and the Japanese Nikkei losing -0.93%.
We start with advertising titan WPP. Group profits before tax climb +7% to £358m for the second quarter while billings climbed more than 1% at £21.65bn in the first half-year.

WPP claims growth in all regions and business segments with Q2 improvement in the UK and the faster growing markets offset by slower growth in the US and Western Continental Europe. There's continuing double-digit growth from South East Asia, Latin America and Africa, it says.

Headline operating profit was up 10.1% to £570 million from £518 million and up 13.5% in constant currencies, well over half a billion pounds sterling. WPP advises its profitability is skewed to the second half of the year compared with competitors.

Next, half year numbers from miner Evraz. Consolidated revenues are sharply down by -9.1% to $7,619m. There's a net loss to investors of $38 million. Quite a contrast with profits of $263 million in the first half 2011.

The interim dividend stands at $0.11 a share. The global economy and, in turn, the steel industry, remain volatile says Evraz and it remains cautious on the outlook for the remainder of 2012.

"Due to our low position on the global cost curve, our steelmaking capacity continues to operate at high utilisation rates and we expect our steel production volumes in Q3 2012 to be broadly in line with Q2 2012. "

Finally, recruiter Hays. Pre-tax profits climb 11% and operating profits rise 12% to £128.1m. Basic earnings per share climbs +5% to 5.47p. Cash generated by operations climbs +67% to £162m.

There's strong international net fee growth of 16% and record performance in Continental Europe & Rest of World, delivering 23% net fee growth claims Hays.

"Looking ahead to 2013," said ceo Alistair Cox, "we expect the overall economic backdrop to remain difficult and our markets to continue to be multi-speed. Several markets are likely to remain very challenging, but these will sit side-by-side with clear opportunities for growth."

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