Around the World's Markets

LONDON

SHARES staged a recovery, with Footsie at one time up 118 points and ending with 55.5-point gain at 5,455. More benign overseas markets helped sentiment, as did a steady stream of takeover rumours with Lloyds TSB at centre stage.

Credit Lyonnais produced a report dwelling on the possibility of Lloyds, known to be looking for a major acquisition, merging with HSBC, owner of Midland Bank. Lloyds shares rose 51.5p to 755p, and HSBC was up 66p at 1,326p.

Derek Pain, page 21

NEW YORK

WALL STREET stocks were up but well off early highs, aided by stability in Asian and Russian markets and a surge in JP Morgan on reports that it may merge with a European bank.

The Dow was quickly up almost 100 points, but blue chips were soon off their highs, up only 37 at 8,496. "Our market is responding to positive markets overseas, especially strength in Hong Kong," said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean Murray & Co.

TOKYO

THE NIKKEI 225 average fell for the ninth time in 10 sessions on fears that Sony, Toyota and other major exporters facing declines in profits. The benchmark index fell 258.09 points, or 1.68 per cent, to 15,123.93 - its biggest one-day drop since 27 July.

The broader Topix index of all issues on the first section of the Tokyo exchange fell 12.91 points, or 1.09 per cent, to 1,168.80. Traders said investors were nervous about returning to domestic sectors while uncertainties remain.

BANGKOK

THAI stocks ended an eight-day losing streak as the yen stabilised, easing concerns that Hong Kong would break its 13-year peg to the US dollar. Banks led the advance: yesterday the government took over seven financial companies, including two small banks, and ordered that their shareholder equity be written off against bad loans.

The benchmark SET index rose 6.69 points, or 2.9 per cent, to 237.56, led by Bangkok Bank and the Thai Military Bank.

HONG KONG

SHARES gained after the government bought stocks and futures for the first time to fend off an assault on the currency.

The Hang Seng index surged 8.5 per cent to 7,224.69, the biggest rally in six months. The latest attack on the Hong Kong dollar threatens the economy and public by driving up borrowing costs, said the Financial Secretary, Donald Tsang. Hong Kong is now heading for its first recession in more than a decade, and currency doubts have pushed up interest rates.

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