Footsie gets high on heady mix of drugs and oils

MARKET REPORT
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The Independent Online
An unlikely combination - drugs and oils - led the stock market higher.

Pharmaceuticals were encouraged by further evidence the world is becoming even more hooked on drugs and oils scored from the latest unrest in the Middle East.

The net result was the FT-SE 100 index managed to strike a 13.2 points gain to 3,946.4. It would probably have closed higher if New York had not made an indifferent opening.

Drugs were on a high following the disclosure that the value of prescriptions in the world's 10 largest markets had risen by 6 per cent in the first half of the year.

Glaxo Wellcome, additionally buoyed by further clearances for Zantac, gained 18p to 994p, and Zeneca, helped by the long-awaited US clearance for its Accolate asthma drug, jumped 33p to 1,580p.

SmithKline Beecham rose 16.5p to 771p and Medeva 4.5p to 252p.

On the oil pitch British Petroleum jumped 6.5p to 654.5p and Shell 6.5p to 978.5p. Enterprise Oil, with reserve upgrades doing the rounds, flared 15p to 553p and Lasmo added 5p to 218.5p.

Throughout the day trading remained subdued. Institutions indulged in a little window dressing, attempting to put a touch of gloss on their third-quarter performances, but there was little sign of any genuine investment interest.

RTZ, the mining group, put on 30p to 977.5p on the firmer copper price and P&O, despite the not surprising Office of Fair Trading interest in its Nedlloyd liaison, rose 15p to 618p.

TI Group, thought to be contemplating a bid for Senior Engineering, eased 9.5p to 572p. Senior firmed to 116.5p.

BTG romped ahead 212.5p to 2,362.5p as excitement continued to grow about its catalogue of inventions.

Matthew Clark, the hard-pressed cider group, had another eventful session. At one time the shares were down 29p but, by the close, they were showing a 12p uplift to 318.5p. Kwik Save, the food discounter, had no such luck. With Barclays de Zoete Wedd and NatWest Securities adding their voices to the sell chorus, the shares fell a further 3.5p to 309p.

NatWest's Tony MacNeary thinks a restructuring is imminent. He says the uncertainty it creates, together with an expected 25 per cent dividend cut, make the shares a sell.

House of Fraser, the department stores chain, gained 4.5p on talk of a bid, probably from Burton. Yorkshire-Tyne Tees TV put on 15p to 1,175p, awaiting the expected Granada bid.

Coutts Consulting, a recruitment group, firmed to 57p. Scottish Television sold its 27.5p per cent stake at 52p through stockbroker Collins Stewart to institutions.

Courtyard Leisure, the London wine bar chain, jumped 6.5p to 19.75p following the arrival of restaurateur Robert Earl with a 3.25 per cent interest.

Lopex, the media group, gained 2.5p to 25.5p; there are suggestions of a link with Birkdale, unchanged at 7p.

Huntleigh slumped 122.5p to 640p, a two-day fall of 237.5p. The healthcare group is the latest example of the market's unrelenting approach to high flyers which fail to meet expectations.

On Thursday the group, with an outstanding record, announced a reasonable set of figures but not as good as the market had anticipated. Even a bonus issue and a move from USM to full listing failed to cushion the blow.

Aminex, with oil interests in the former Soviet Union, was firm at 55p. The shareholders meeting to approve the involvement of the World Bank will be called next week.

Once the World Bank deal, involving a 20 per cent stake and a near pounds 20m loan, is cleared Aminex is likely to sharply increase its oil operations.

Shalibane, making products for the motor industry, drove on to AIM, touching 137.5p against a 125p placing.

Sound system group Verity boomed 7.5p to 23.75p following a 31 per cent interim profits gain and the development of a new loudspeaker technology, named NXT.

It has created a company to handle NXT with outside shareholders taking up some of the capital at a price implying an pounds 18m valuation.

Goodwin, a little foundry business, held at 60.5p. The shares are likely to move higher on Monday. The company reported a surprise 800 per cent profit advance to just over pounds 2m. Shareholders get a special "loyalty" dividend, making a 17.94p total against 0.655p. The shares have climbed from 33p since March.

r Castle Mill International, nudging 100p before the 1987 crash, is at last on the verge of completing its protracted restructuring. Two banks have agreed to slash the amount due from pounds 4.1m to pounds 725,000 and CMI is raising pounds 2m through a placing and open offer at 2.5p.

The company, although getting back into profit last year, has been struggling against a debt mountain, incurred through overexpansion, since 1991.

Once the restructuring is through CMI, a textile business, is likely to seek acquisitions. The shares rose 0.5p to 3.25p.

r Deltron Electronics, an electrical components supplier, should make a bright market debut on Monday. The shares were placed at 150p and an opening price of around 165p is likely.

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