THE MARKET closed higher as bid speculation among the blue chips offset a slump on Wall Street.
The FTSE 100 ended 52.2 up at 6,302.2 despite a 100-point fall in the Dow as London closed. The rally was sustained by rumours of consolidation in the drugs sector. Dealers said SmithKline Beecham could strike a deal with Swiss rival Novartis or Glaxo of the UK. Second liners had a mixed session, with the mid cap finishing 41.3 higher at 5,709 and the Small Cap closing 1.8 lower at 2,547.8.
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STOCKS REGAINED slightly from earlier lows after Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, steered clear of commenting on the outlook for US interest rates in a speech in Boston. Earlier in the day the Dow Jones was near its session low, down 130.13 points or 1.24 per cent, at 10,466.13.
Internet stocks were hit hard for the second day as valuations continued to erode in the face of higher interest rates. The Street.Com's index of 20 Internet companies fell 6.36 per cent to 90.89.
THE BENCHMARK Nikkei 225 index trimmed earlier gains to close marginally higher as uncertainty about domestic economic policies and fears of US inflation spread caution among investors. The Nikkei closed up 9.49 points or 0.06 per cent at 16,417.99.
Traders said expectations that the government will announce measures to stimulate the economy, together with dismal unemployment figures, were providing mixed messages, both souring sentiment and boosting hopes for supplementary stimulus.
THE BLUE-CHIP Hang Seng index ended up 0.77 points at 12,458.64 on the strength of HSBC Holdings but stocks in the broader market were mixed in directionless trade.
HSBC, which is to redenominate its stocks in US dollars from sterling and Hong Kong dollars on 3 July, saw stocks rise HK$5 to close at HK$269. A trader said: "Buying was focussed on several heavyweights, especially HSBC, but the index retreated quickly from its day high after hitting a resistance of 12,500 points in early afternoon."
THE CAC-40 index finished with a symbolic rise of 0.04 per cent, wiping out losses towards the end of a volatile session dominated by caution over US interest rates as the Dow fell more than 100 points.
The index ended up 1.65 points at 4,315.34 after seesawing throughout the day.
Analysts said they expected the market to remain nervous until key US payrolls data is released on Friday.
"We are all waiting for Friday's data. Meanwhile the market should stay volatile," a trader said.