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UPDATE 2-Thomson Reuters profit tops Wall St forecasts

(Adds detail on earnings, pre-market stock move)

NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp on Wednesday reported stronger-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by strong demand for information it sells to legal professionals, and reaffirmed its forecast for the rest of this year and 2020.

The news and information provider and parent of Reuters News reported earnings excluding special items of 36 cents per share, compared with 28 cents per share a year ago, partly due to lower interest expenses and stock repurchases.

That beat the average analyst estimate of 25 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

First-quarter revenue rose 8 percent from a year ago to $1.49 billion, slightly below analysts' average estimate of $1.5 billion.

The company's Toronto-listed shares have jumped 60 percent over the last 12 months, hitting an all-time high of C$83.83 on May 1. They were trading down 1 percent at C$82.20 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

Currency exchange rates weighed on sales across the company's operations. Excluding that effect, each of the company's units reported higher revenue. The largest business, Legal Professionals, reported a 3-percent rise in sales in constant currency and a 19-percent jump in adjusted earnings.

For 2019, the company repeated its forecast for revenue growth of 7% to 8.5% before the effect of currency exchange rates and sales growth of about half that pace in 2020.

Last year, Thomson Reuters sold a 55-percent stake in its Financial & Risk (F&R) unit, which provides data and news primarily to financial customers, to private equity firm Blackstone Group LP. The deal valued the F&R unit, now a standalone business called Refinitiv, at about $20 billion.

Revenue from Reuters News more than doubled to $155 million in the latest quarter, due to a 30-year agreement for Reuters to supply news and editorial content to Refinitiv, which began in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Thomson Reuters, controlled by Canada's Thomson family, has said it set aside $2 billion of the $17 billion proceeds from the Blackstone deal to make purchases to help expand its Legal, Tax & Accounting and Corporates businesses.

(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York Editing by Bill Rigby)