U.K. Entertainment Stocks Largely Unchanged, Higher Despite Threat of Triple-Dip Recession

6:09 AM PST 01/25/2013 by Georg Szalai

Britain’s economy shrank more than expected in the fourth quarter following a benefit from the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

LONDON -- The U.K. is at risk of an unprecedented triple-dip recession, latest government data confirmed Friday, but most big entertainment stocks trended slightly higher.

The news of the still-sluggish economy could be a drag on consumer and company spending and confidence, possibly affecting advertising, box office and DVD spending, among other things.

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The stock of commercial TV broadcaster ITV was up 0.9 percent just before 2 p.m. London time and traded near its 52-week high. Analysts have recently lauded the company for outperforming the broader U.K. advertising market and growing its ITV Studios content production arm to reduce its dependence on its ad-driven business.

Shares of pay TV giant BSkyB, whose business is driven by consumer subscriptions rather than ads, was up 0.6 percent and also near its 52-week high. And cable operator and cell phone firm Virgin Media also saw its stock edge up 0.35 percent.

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But the stock of movie theater group Cineworld was down 0.4 percent at the same time, although it remained near its 52-week high.

On market observer suggested that most investors have gotten used to expecting a weak economy.  

Britain’s economy shrank more than expected in the fourth quarter following a benefit from the London 2012 Summer Olympics during the third quarter, economic data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. It said that gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent after a 0.9 percent gain in the third quarter. Most economists had expected a decline of around 0.1 percent.

If the British economy posts another drop for the current first quarter, the country would be in its third recession in four years.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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