The FTSE 100 just failed to cling on to the 4400 mark but still managed to close at a record high for the third day in a row, up 39.2 at 4399.3. The second and third-line indices also scaled new peaks. Wall Street again provided the main impetus with the Dow Jones threatening to break back through the 7000 level in early trade, spurred on by comments from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan that share prices looked fairly valued. Although the euphoria was somewhat tempered ahead of today's key US jobs data, a generally favourable flow of results also helped sentiment on one of the busiest days of the year for scheduled company announcements. Glaxo Wellcome had an eventful session, rebounding from early losses as analysts took a positive view on prospects following an upbeat presentation from the drugs giant. Its shares closed 14p higher at 1049p in a heavy volume of 24.3 million shares,maki ng it the most active stock. Also in demand was Rolls-Royce, which topped the list of blue-chip performers after the aero-engines group posted its first dividend increase since the dark days of the 1991 recession. BTR was up 7p at 259.5p on its results and Mercury Asset Management jumped 31.5p to 1410p on bid hopes and the prospect of benefiting from any change to state pensions. Ladbroke climbed 11p to 236p after its full-year results came in at the top end of analysts' expectations. Apart from an encouraging rebound in its betting shops, there was relief that Ladbroke had yet to enter the fray for Capital Corporation, the owner of Crockfords' casino under siege from London Clubs. Rank, another possible bidder for Capital, rose 5.5p to 435.5p on a report that Michael Green's Carlton and Michael Grade's First Leisure were poised to mount a break-up bid. Analysts said such a deal would give Carlton, 7p lower at 536.5p, big regulatory problems because it would end up owning all of the UK video duplication market Manchester United scored a 10p gain to close at 657.5p as investors celebrated the team's 4-0 drubbing of FC Porto in the European Cup. But an uninspiring 1-1 home draw against Blackburn in the Premier League dented Chelsea's European ambitions and sent shares in AIM-listed Chelsea Village, the parent company, 6.5p lower at 120p. A month ago they were 170p. Dealings in Mosaic Investments, the cash-rich vehicle for financier David Williams, were suspended at the company's request. Mosaic confirmed it was in talks to buy Bolton Wanderers, leaders of the Nationwide First Division, after a report suggesteda po unds 25m deal was on the cards. Mosaic's shares had risen 5.5p to 51.5p before trading was halted. Yet another director has bought shares in Emap, up 21.5p at 768.5p. This time it was none other than Tom Moloney, the chief executive of the consumer magazines division, who was rumoured, inaccurately, to be following managing director David Arculusthro ugh the revolving door. Mr Moloney shelled out just over pounds 5,000 for 688 shares on Tuesday. Cray used to be a four-letter word in electronics circles until it changed its name to nice, anonymous-sounding Anite. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out why Cray, sorry, Anite, wished to draw a line under a far-from-illustrious past. A serie s of profit warnings and wholesale board changes culminated in a pounds 19.4m loss last year and the shares, over 200p in 1994, hit a rock-bottom 27p. But a series of disposals, most recently the sale of half the communications division, means Anite is no longer exposed to hardware manufacturing - the source of so many of its woes. A pounds 20m provision has been made to cover surplus empty properties bought at the top of the market in the late Eighties. All this has transformed the balance sheet, which now boasts net cash of pounds 17m, though shareholders' funds have been as good as wiped out. Nevertheless, broker Teather & Greenwood reckons the shares could reach 95p in two years' time if forecast profits of pounds 14.5m are hit. Software stocks continued to soar on hopes of a business bonanza from defusing the computer time-bomb which is expected to hit in 2000. Misys surged 40p to 1290p, Logica advanced 27.5p to 1042.5p, and Micro Focus put on another 60p at 1212.5 while Parity , which reported figures this week, gained 10p to 507.5p. Taking Stock
Takeover talks between Enterprise Inns and Discovery Inns are progressing well, according to industry sources. They say an agreement is only weeks away though Enterprise will need to organise a hefty rights issue to fund the pounds 50m-plus deal. Shares in Enterprise closed unchanged at 266.p, valuing the pub chain at pounds 126m. Discovery pulled its flotation in December due to adverse market conditions.
Over 17 million shares changed hands in Wiggins, 0.5p firmer at 10.5p, as the property group presented its case for buying entertainment outfit Tomorrow's Leisure to institutions. The volume was the biggest seen outside the FTSE 100 index. Wiggins has made an agreed pounds 16.5m offer for the 75 per cent of the shares it does not already own.