Market Report: Man Group surges on upbeat broker comment

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The excitement was in response to comments from Credit Suisse First Boston which seems to be convinced that business is booming at Man. The broker said: "We expect a positive trading statement from Man at the end of this month." It believes the hedge-fund group has seen an improvement in sales and returns on a number of its private-client products, and claims that the company's brokering business is benefiting from the pick-up in the trading of interest-rate derivatives since the end of the summer.

Given the recent strength of Man's flagship AHL fund, performance fees should also be doing well, according to CSFB, and as a result the Swiss broker has raised its 2006 earnings forecasts for the group by 9.4 per cent.

Elsewhere, Emap put on 16.5p to 840p as Morgan Stanley was heard to have hosted a dinner attended by the media group's management and a series of institutional investors. At the event, the Emap directors are said to have assured those present that all parts of its business are performing well.

Lloyds TSB was not so lucky, falling 1.25p to 483p on talk the bank's management visited analysts at Citigroup where they are said to have given a rather downbeat assessment of the trading conditions facing the group. Lloyds is also believed to have declined to comment on recent speculation that it might be seeking a merger.

Rumours that the Russian gas giant Gazprom is mulling a bid for Centrica sent shares in the UK utility to a fresh high of275.75p in the morning. However, the stock closed at 260.25p, down 4.5pon the day, after Centrica issued a profits warning just before noon. The group said its 2005 earnings will come in at the lower end of market forecasts.

Easynet dropped 5.5p to 99.5p after the broadband provider poured cold water on rumours it is about to be bought by Centrica's communications arm OneTel. Easynet also posted weaker-than-expected first-half figures, prompting Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein to downgrade its recommendation on the stock to "hold" from "buy".

Smith & Nephew, down 2.5p to 536.5p, said that the US Food & Drug Administration's advisory panel had recommended its hip-resurfacing product for approval in America. S&N's product is designed to address the demands of younger and more active patient who suffers from osteoarthritis. While the healthcare group has received only advisory approval, the FDA usually follows the panel's recommendations, which leaves S&N on course to be the first company to launch such a resurfacing device in the States.

Wolfson Microelectronics put on 6.5p to 207.5p as it emerged the Apple iPod Nano will contain one of Wolfson's audio chips. The company already supplies chips to Apple for its regular iPod range but the US computer giant aims to have the iPod Nano supersede this range. Cazenove and Citigroup came out with bullish comments on Wolfson in the wake of the latest breakthrough for the company. François Meunier, analysts at Cazenove, believes Wolfson earnings may need to be upgraded by as much as 20 per cent next year to take account of the new deal.

First Calgary gave up 22.5p to 465p on news that the explorer's latest well in Rourde Yacoub, Algeria, had found non-commercial quantities of oil and gas and had been abandoned.

The Ukraine-focused explorer JKX Oil & Gas fell 1.25p to 190p as investors worried about the renewed political tension to beset the former Soviet country. Earlier this week the Ukraine was plunged into political crisis after President Victor Yushchenko, sacked the country's government in response to allegations of corruption. Tony Alves, at KBC Peel Hunt, argues that the turmoil is unlikely to impact JKX's operations in the country on a day-to-day basis, however he did warn that the company could be negatively impacted by a delay to the approval of a new gas link to the country's export pipelines.

Regal Petroleum was also hit by concerns about its business in the Ukraine. Regal shares fell 18p to 152.5p as some reports questioned the validity of the group's gas licences in the country. The company was quick to dismiss the speculation saying it had "no substance".

Finally, Ideal Shopping rose 12p to 378.5p on talk the home-shopping channel owner has enjoyed strong trading over the summer. Gossips reckon City earnings forecasts for the group are far too conservative, and suggested brokers will soon have to upgrade their estimates.