BLUE CHIPS failed to hold their best levels, despite increasingly confident talk that lower interest rates are on the way. Footsie, at one time up 78.9 points, ended just 10 higher at 5,291.7. Trading was brisk, with share turnover topping the 1 billion level.
Takeover talk lifted Enterprise Oil 24.5p to 390p but, as if proving beer and oil do not mix, the Bass brewing group slumped 97p to 725p after rolling out a downbeat trading statement which prompted analysts to cut profit estimates.
IN JAPAN, stocks were little changed as a 34 per cent slide by the struggling Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and declines in other banks offset gains by Sony and other exporters. The dollar surged against the yen amid speculation that the G7 would help Latin American markets shore up their currencies. The Nikkei 225 index fell 29.67 points to 14,197.70.
The Nihon Keizai newspaper said it will add Asahi Bank and Kokusai Denshin Denwa to its Nikkei 225 from 24 September, replacing Nihon Cement and Showa Line.
THE PROSPECT of an imminent interest rate cut by Peking powered a third day of gains for red-chip stocks with the index of state-owned Chinese companies jumping 7.5 per cent to a two-month high. So far this month, China stocks are the best-performing stocks in Hong Kong as a strengthening yen and hints that Peking may cut rates allay concern of a yuan devaluation.
The Hang Seng index rose 127.21, or 1.64 per cent, to 7,860.68, paced by Hutchison Whampoa and HSBC Holdings.
BRAZILIAN SHARES raced upwards in midday trade as new-found confidence that a financial crisis was not imminent took hold.
Seeds for the new optimism were planted on Tuesday as rumours circulated of an aid package from the International Monetary Fund. Brazilian officials later said they were in talks with the IMF only about crisis prevention. The Bovespa index started wobbly after surging 18 per cent on Tuesday, but later renewed the upward charge, rising 7.22 per cent to 7,404 points by 1616 BST.