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Pearson shares slide following downgrade

LONDON - Pearson shares fell sharply in today's trading, following a downgrade by UBS Warburg this morning, as Carlton Communications headed in the other direction, boosted by reports of its digital talks with the BBC.

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The broker reduced its recommendation for Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, from "buy" to "hold". It also cut pre-exceptional pre-tax profit forecasts by 11% for this year and by 7% for 2002.

The FTSE 100 company was trading down 3.8% this afternoon at 842.5p. Yesterday, it closed at 876p.

Carlton Communications was heading upwards, however, following confirmation that it was in talks with the BBC about the future of ITV Digital.

Its share price climbed 3.7%, trading at 223p this afternoon. Its fellow ITV Digital owner Granada did not fare so well, however, trading down 2.1% at 138p. Fierce rival BSkyB fared worse, falling 4.12% to 802p.

Following yesterday's announcement that it would not be contesting the Takeover Panel's ruling on its £432m bid for Tempus, WPP Group's shares were holding steady, down only 1.39%. Shares in the group, headed by Sir Martin Sorrell, were trading at 638p this afternoon, while shares in Tempus rose again, trading up 0.3% to 550p -- almost back at the 555p originally offered by WPP.

Overall, the markets showed little movement, with the FTSE 100 worth 5200.1 points, down 0.2% on yesterday's close of 5214.1.

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