It shrank by 0.3% in the three months to December, a steeper decline than expected, and contracted by 0.1% between July and September. The data led to a fall in the yield on 10-year UK government bonds, with markets now pricing in about 78 basis points of interest rate cuts from the Bank of England this year, while it expected 60 bps a few days ago.

This comes after Wednesday’s publication of weaker-than-expected CPI inflation in January, which caused shares to rally. The FTSE 100 ended the session 0.8% higher.

Among stocks today, Close Brothers Group's shares fell by 12.0% as the lender announced it would not pay dividends for the current financial year. In contrast, RELX shares climbed by 2.4% after the information-and-analytics group reported a 13% growth in adjusted operating profit and expected another strong performance this year.

Jet2 raised its group profit guidance for the fiscal year ending March 31, now expecting a profit between GBP 510 million and GBP 525 million. The company cited strong forward bookings for the winter season. MJ Gleeson reported signs of housing market recovery and expected the trend to continue into the spring selling season as mortgage rates ease. The company's net booking rates improved year-over-year.

GSK completed the acquisition of Aiolos Bio for a total of $1 billion, with up to $400 million in milestone payments based on regulatory success. The acquisition grants GSK access to Aiolos Bio's anti-thymic stromal lymphopoietin monoclonal antibody AIO-001, which is ready for phase 2 clinical development for adult asthma treatment.

Meanwhile, Barclays is considering a bid for Societe Generale's UK private bank, Kleinwort Hambros, as it seeks to expand its business targeting wealthy individuals. Kleinwort Hambros, with over 12 billion pounds in assets under management, could be valued at up to 700 million pounds in a sale. Lloyds Banking Group, Rathbones, and Raymond James have also been invited to bid, although Rathbones has decided not to participate.

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