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British Steel was the best performing stock on the FT-SE 100 last week, gaining 4.3 per cent after it announced on Thursday that it is speeding up plans to slash jobs and cut costs as the pound's strength is hurting its competitiveness overseas. The company said it had no target in mind for the proposed cuts. The steel industry was also in the spotlight as two German companies, Krupp Hoesch and Thyssen, are in talks to merge their operations.

Guinness was the second best gainer of the week, rising 4.1 per cent after better than expected results for 1996. Pre-tax profit rose 11 per cent on strong sales of its signature stout and improved US demand for premium Scotch whisky. This was the first evidence of a recovery in the global liquor market since the early 1990s slump.

The worst performing stock on the FT-SE 100 last week was Lloyds TSB which fell 11.8 per cent. All bank stocks were hit on fears that higher interest rates in the US will damage profits and hurt the value of bond portfolios. Lloyds was the worst affected as it is also threatened by a strike at its computer service supplier, Sema. The workers are protesting about the transfer of their jobs into the Lloyds TSB group and the compensation package. Lloyds has said it hopes to avert the strike. Copyright: IOS & Bloomberg