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The Independent Online

BLUE CHIPS scored their fourth consecutive day of gains. Although Tuesday's excitement faded, Footsie still achieved a 46.1-point advance to 5,694.3. The improved interest-rate outlook and Asian stability helped, but supporting shares made little headway.

Vodafone, meeting analysts, rose 43.5p to 860p. BA, on hopes of a deal on airport slots, climbed 32p to 520p. Takeover talk lifted drugs group Zeneca 70p to 2,410p: Roche is the rumoured predator.

Derek Pain, page 17


STOCKS fell as declines in companies exposed to Asia balanced gains for computer firms triggered by strong earnings from Dell. Programme selling helped pull stocks from early gains, indicating that some short- term traders expect the rally of the past two days to stall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.16 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 8,700.49 by midday, erasing a 41-point gain. Stocks had risen as investors took the view they had been oversold.


THE NIKKEI closed 2.27 per cent up as a rally in US stocks eased fears of a world-wide sell-off. The Nikkei ended 342.55 points higher at 15,406.34. Wall Street's rally led to buying of Japanese blue chips whose earnings are affected by the US economy. The dollar hovered near 144 yen in Tokyo trading amid expectations of government intervention.

Traders warned that delay in fixing the banking system could push the Nikkei towards its post-bubble low of 14,309 six years ago.


THE HANG SENG index surged 5.7 per cent, sparking rallies across Asian markets, as the government dipped into its reserves again to buy stocks.

The government is thought to have spent more than HK$5bn (pounds 400m) buying blue chips such as HSBC Holdings. But some fund managers are warning of long-term damage to investor confidence, saying they were reluctant to buy Hong Kong stocks as the government - not investors - was setting prices.

THE KUALA LUMPUR exchange's main index rose 8.81 per cent - the highest one-day gain since February - after the government confirmed that it may use the nation's pension fund to intervene to boost share prices.

The Employees Provident Fund, already a big player on the Kuala Lumpur bourse, could also itself participate in the programme. Share prices on the Malaysian bourse have fallen by nearly 70 per cent since the start of the Asian economic crisis.