FTSE 100 boosted by Pearson and IAG


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(Close): Education company Pearson and British Airways owner IAG were the top two performers on London’s benchmark share index on Friday, helping to bolster the UK market.

The FTSE 100 share index ended the day 49 points, or 0.68%, ahead at 7,297.43.

Shares in Pearson were up 12.4% after it announced plans to cut costs by £300m a year by the end of 2019.

The company also launched a “strategic review” of its troubled US school publishing business.

The US business has proved problematic recently as students have been renting textbooks instead of buying them. As a result, Pearson has issued five profit warnings in four years.

IAG shares rose 5.5% after the airline group reported record first-quarter results.

The company – which owns BA, Aer Lingus and Iberia – said underlying operating profit rose 9.7% to 170m euros (£144m). That was despite IAG taking a 32m-euro hit to profits in the quarter as a result of the weak pound.

“IAG has been able to navigate its way through stormy conditions last year, posting a 31% rise in annual profits in February so this is continuing the trend and means it’s on track to live up to expectations that this year will be even better than last,” said Neil Wilson at ETX Capital.

Marks and Spencer rose 4.95% after the retail giant announced it had appointed former Asda boss Archie Norman as its new chairman.

On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.25% against the dollar at $1.2955 and edged up 0.14% against the euro to 1.1781 euros.

On the commodities markets, the price of Brent Crude oil was up by 1.5% to $49.12 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate Crude was up by 1.6% at $46.26.

In early trading on Friday, crude prices had hit five-month lows amid renewed concerns about a worldwide supply glut.