Media group Daily Mail & General Trust today said its national newspaper titles were "holding up well" in the tougher economic climate.

DMGT reported pre-tax profits of £144 million for the six months to March 31, an increase of 7%, after the group also benefited from growth in its non-newspaper, business-to-business operations.

The group said it had been a good first half, but revealed that operating profits in its Northcliffe Media regional newspapers arm fell 13% to £33.8 million following a downturn in conditions since the start of this year.

Looking ahead, the company said the achievement of growth in group pre-tax profits this year would be dependent on trading conditions in the later months of this financial year,

DMGT added: "It seems that economic conditions in the UK will be tough in the second half and this is having an impact on our local media division. To date, however, our national titles are holding up well, and we expect to achieve growth in our business-to business-divisions, despite a high level of development expenditure."

Underlying advertising revenues at Northcliffe were down 6.7% in March and April, with recruitment off 4.7%, property down 12.7% and motors weakening 9.2%. The first weeks of May indicate weakening trends in these sectors.

DMGT said Associated Newspapers, which includes the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard, produced a solid trading performance after total advertising revenues rose by 4%. Circulation revenues were unchanged at £188 million, leaving divisional operating profits 1% lower at £49 million after including the cost of its new Didcot printing plant.

In business-to-business, DMG Information continued its growth with a 10% rise in underlying revenues, while operating profits were up 4% to £32 million.