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Compass Gains on Strong Trading Results

Shares in Britain's Compass Group were the biggest FTSE gainer on Friday after it said trading in the first four months of its financial year had been marginally ahead of expectations.

Compass shares, which have outperformed the U.K. support services sector by 20% over the last 12 months, were up 2.4% in early European trade, after earlier reaching 323p, valuing the group at around 6.4 billion pounds ($12.6 billion).

"Trading in the first four months of the year has been encouraging and is marginally ahead of expectations," the chairman of the world's biggest foodservice company, Roy Gardner, said in a statement to shareholders at its annual general meeting.

Compass said the proposed sale of its European vending business, Selecta, which was announced in November, had generated significant interest and was expected to be completed by the summer.

In November, the group missed analysts' average forecast with a 5.5% rise in annual profit, with profit before tax, goodwill amortisation and exceptional items for the year ended Sept. 30 of 363 million pounds.

The group is expected to issue a trading update on March 29, ahead of its interim results on May 16.