After two days of strong gains blue chip shares paused for breath with Footsie easing 18 points to 6,019.8. Ladbroke, the betting and hotel group, was the best performing Footsie constituent, spurred 19.25p higher to 355p by the approaches to Thistle Hotels. The financial sector continued to reflect takeover hopes with the recently created CGU insurance giant gaining 41p to 1,168p. Supporting shares were again in fine form with the mid cap index at a new peak. See Market Report, page 23.
The Tokyo stock market advanced strongly as the yen's fall against the dollar encouraged investors to buy into export-driven manufacturers. The 225-share Nikkei average soared 235.46 points, 1.54 per cent, to close at 15,530.17. It was led by companies like Sony, up 250 yen at 11,670, and TDK, up 240 at 10,790.
The dollar rose towards 141 reflecting short-term capital outflows from Japan where the economy is still sluggish.
Shares recovered slightly from earlier losses as investors selectively bought into stocks after the dollar firmed against the mark, traders said.
The Xetra DAX closed at 5,773.77, up 13.74 from today's floor close but down from yesterday's Xetra close of 5,787.05. The DAX closed today's floor session down 19.06 at 5,760.03. Dealers noted that trading had been thin throughout the day, with a lack of corporate news causing it to be directionless.
Hong Kong stocks closed sharply lower yesterday as buyers reacted negatively to the weak Japanese yen and pessimism about China. The Hang Seng Index fell 2.27 per cent, with "China plays" suffering most. The red chip index slumped 8.52 per cent. Trading was briefly interrupted by warning of torrential rain. It summed up the black mood of investors who marked down stocks like Shanghai Industrial by HK$1.35 to HK$17.80.
Share prices were stable at lows in late morning trade, pressured by weaker bonds and profit-taking in many sectors following recent advances, dealers said. By mid-morning the 30-year benchmark bond was down 8/32 at 104-19/32 yielding 5.796 per cent, pressured by concerns that Japan may soon arrange intervention to support the yen. They added that bond trading today is likely to be restrained by nervousness ahead of Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan's remarks to Congress tomorrow.