MARKET REPORT

The FT-SE 100 index gained 4.7 points to 3,139.7 and the FT-SE 250 index edged ahead 0.3 to 3,407. Turnover was 703.7 million shares with 33,011 bargains. Government stocks gave ground.

Eurotunnel is in danger of becoming submerged by fears that shareholders will soon have to stump up more cash.

The shares, down 12p on Tuesday, lost another 12p (after 17p) to 243p on persistent worries that another rights issue is imminent.

The rights rumours were particularly strong in Paris, home for many of Eurotunnel's shares. But a company spokesman declared: "There is absolutely no question of us seeking a capital increase. We are studying ways - and there is nothing new to that - of refinancing our debt in the coming years but that has nothing to do with a capital increase".

Eurotunnel's last cash call, an £850m cliff-hanger last summer, attracted much more support from the Continent than the UK. There were even allegations that Eurotunnel's shares had been driven down to influence the pricing, eventually fixed at 265p.

In the event UK shareholders subscribed for 67.7 per cent of their entitlement, with their French counterparts taking 96 per cent.

The new rights alarms stem from rumours that Eurotunnel's bankers are reluctant to pump more cash into the debt-laden enterprise, where revenue has fallen short of expectations.

Any banking shortfall, it is suggested, would leave the £10.5bn operation with little choice but to tap shareholders yet again.

Eurotunnel's Channel rival, P&O, was in much better form, steaming ahead 14p to 580p as a stock overhang was said to have been cleared.

The rest of the stock market failed to hold its best level but managed to close with a 4.7 points gain at 3,139.7. There were signs of financial- year window dressing influencing some shares and bed and breakfast deals remained a feature of the market.

Financials recovered some of their old gloss, with SG Warburg up 14p to 736p. The market was intrigued by the persistent attention Swiss Bank Corporation paid the shares. What many regard as the City's most aggressive investment house was a determined bidder, once again prompting speculation that Warburg could soon find itself back in takeover action.

It is widely believed that the acrimonious breakdown of talks with the US bank Morgan Stanley was merely the opening chapter in the Warburg bid saga. Others, particularly JP Morgan, are said to hover.

Kleinwort Benson was another drawing speculative support, up 20p at 635p.

Electricities emerged from recent lethargy as the market started to ponder the possible comments tomorrow from Professor Stephen Littlechild, the industry regulator, who devastated the sector when he warned that he intended to look again at his proposed price curbs.

Many believe he will postpone detailing his main proposals until the summer, with just broad outlines to be published tomorrow. East Midland led the field, up 19p at 630p. But Yorkshire, on which hopes of a bid (and cash) were riding high, remained dull, little changed at 647p.

Fisons was again busily traded, gaining 2p to 167p. Zeneca, which is likely to attract increasing takeover speculation now Wellcome has fallen to Glaxo, rose 8p to 894p. It is the prospect of the near-£9bn Wellcome windfall returning to the market which is encouraging much of the display of support that has prompted a 150 points-plus gain in the past nine trading days.

Granada, meeting analysts next week, edged forward 2p to 541p; Thorn EMI responded to US presentations with a 10p gain to 1,059p. Argyll, the Safeway supermarket chain which has been holding investment meetings, fell 4.5p to 288.5p.

BAT Industries, with Lehman Brothers saying buy, rose 7p to 438; Kenwood, the electrical appliance group, rose 8p to 269p with Warburg saying the shares were 30 per cent undervalued.

PhoneLink continued to benefit from its deal with BT. The shares gained 18p to 238p, compared with 176p ahead of the BT announcement. The agreement involves BT selling PhoneLink's Tel-Me service, which allows users to access information via their personal computers. Loss-making PhoneLink was floated at 155p in June, 1993. BT was also in demand, up 6p at 391p as Nomura and Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull made bullish noises.

Arjo Wiggins Appleton remained depressed, down 2p at 246p. British Steel, on price cut fears, fell a further 2.5p to 157p.

Barratt Developments, the builder, dropped 14p to 171p following figures, but the food group Bernard Matthews gained 11p to 114p. Bleinhem, the conference and exhibitions group, rose 23p to 197p with results in line with expectations.

Wm Morrison, figures today, edged ahead 3p to 147p. Pentex, the little oil exploration group also reporting today, gained 10p to 95p. Royal Doulton, figures next week, improved 13p to 284p.

Bolton, a little property group once famed for paper underwear, was the day's best performer, up 9.5p to 21p as a Hong Kong businessman, Oei Hong Leong, moved in with a stake of up to 29.99 per cent.

ViewCall, the latest vehicle of the 1960s whiz-kid John Bentley, started trading on the backwater 4.2 market. Placed at 65p, the shares closed at 68p with the warrants at 2p, giving an overall 5p premium. The company is developing an interactive on-line information and shopping service, which can be received on domestic television sets.

Black & Edgington, the marquees group, edged ahead 0.25p to a high of 3.75p. The market is growing increasingly convinced the company, little more than a shell, is near to clinching a big deal. In January, Ian Gowrie- Smith, founder of the Medeva drugs group, and Nigel Wray, the architect of many a company revamp, moved in. The shares were then 1p.

Southern Business, the photocopier distributor, at 64p is continuing to lag the offer from Berkeley Business Group, the Alan Baldwin vehicle. A counter-bid is thought to be a distinct possibility. There is said to be little institutional enthusiasm for the Berkeley offer and Mr Baldwin may find it necessary to improve the terms. Berkeley shares held at 6p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones