MARKET REPORT : Window-dressing helps half-year to a resolute end some help from

Shares ended the half-year on a resolute note. A little late institutional window-dressing, firm gilts and hopes of an interest rate cut next week pushed the FT-SE 100 index back above 3,700 points, although best levels were not always held.

Amid the resurgence, TI Group, the engineer, was the poorest-performing blue chip, falling 12p to 538p as fears re-appeared it would barge into the comfy merger between Lucas Industries and Varity, the US car parts group. Rumours of a counter-strike have not been far below the surface since the deal emerged in May.

TI has often been linked with Lucas which has already been forced to endure the brief attentions of BBA, the brakes group which considered an audacious pounds 2.4bn offer.

With Varity, Lucas will be one of the world's largest car component groups. There is a clear temptation for other industry powers to block the deal. Among those thought to be in the Lucas vicinity are GM, the US giant, and Continental players such as Mannesmann, the German engineer with nearly 9 per cent of Lucas, up 1.5p at 226.5p.

Lloyds TSB led the blue chip charge. In a bank sector enjoying a relaxation in the mortgage war the shares jumped 10p to 315p. James Capel lifted this year's profit forecast by 4.5 per cent to pounds 2.42bn and next by 7 per cent to pounds 2.75bn. With the mortgage battle fading Abbey National gained 12p to 541p. Barclays added 13p to 773p and National Westminster Bank 5p to 616p. HSBC put on 18p to 1,008p.

Scottish & Newcastle, the nation's biggest brewer, frothed 7p higher to 659p. Results are due on Monday with pounds 315m against pounds 265m expected. Guinness, after a poor run, continued to gather strength, gaining 12p to 469p. Many of the pub/restaurant groups, mauled on Thursday, managed modest recoveries. JD Wetherspoon, for example, rallied 15p to 1,005p.

GRE, seen as the next insurance takeover target, improved 7p to 248p and Rexam, the paper and packaging group, rallied 14p to 339p.

The market rally comes at the end of what has been an indifferent month for blue chips. In the past two weeks daily Footsie falls have been more than twice gains. Political worries have been the major factor. Low trading levels have also taken their toll.

Boots shaded 1p to 579p. Its pounds 300m share buy-back prompted some retailers to move higher as the market speculated that part of the Boots cash will be pumped into other store shares. Storehouse, up 10p to 324p, was the main beneficiary of such thinking.

Alexon, the fashion group which has staged a sharp recovery from three years of losses, gained 8p to 145p on director buying. Chairman Patrick Cooper picked up 10,000 shares at 137p; he last bought shares a year ago at 28p.

Broadcasters managed pluses following Whitehall's clearance of the controversial Granada stake in Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television. Yorkshire gained 7p to 1,155p and HTV, 359p two weeks ago, rallied 8.5p to 319p.

T&N fell 9p to 140p on worries about asbestos claims and BTR slipped 1.5p to 253.5p. Cardinal Business, following higher losses, fell 5p to 21p

Le Creuset, a cookware and tableware group, gained 23p to 200p as chairman Paul van Zuydam produced his promised bid to take the company private. He is offering 203p a share.

Blenheim rose 8p to 423p on hopes United News & Media will produce its offer early next week.

Johnson, the building materials group, held at 500p as the controversial tender offer from aggressive conglomerate TT Group flopped. TT gathered just 7 per cent against a 27.5 per cent target.

On AIM, Firecrest, the Internet provider which has a volatile record, was suspended after jumping 17p to 70p ahead of details about the marketing of one of its products. The shares touched 193p last year. Newcomer Intelligent Enviroment, placed at 94p, ended at 85p. Omnicare returned from suspension following the take over of Amcare, supplying medical products to patients confined to their homes. Shares were sold at 110p to fund the acquisition. They opened at 120p, ending at 115p.

The day's biggest excitement was once again reserved for the fringe Ofex market. A company called Display International shot from 100p to 265p in first-day dealings. It is, of course, an Internet provider, offering access to share and bond prices, plus commodities and currency rates, through software installed in a personal computer.

TAKING STOCK Aminex, with oil and gas interests in Russia, jumped 7p to 64p as an as-yet-unidentified institutional shareholder pumped in nearly pounds 2m, buying 3.5 million new shares at 57p.

The cash will go towards Russian and Tunisian developments. The company's new investor, to be named next week, will have 9 per cent of the capital. The injection comes ahead of a planned equity and debt financing package from the World Bank which will have a 20 per cent interest.

Ashbourne, the nursing home group where Sun Healthcare of the United states has 30 per cent, made investment presentations this week. The company is thought to be on the verge of buying two or three homes with up to 300 beds. The shares eased 3p to 149p.

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