Market Report: Bears lick wounds after failed raid on Airtours

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The FT-SE 100 index rose 3.8 points to 3,175.1 and the supporting FT-SE 250 index 3.6 to 3,753.4. Turnover was 554.2 million shares with 27.019 bargains recorded. Government stocks were little changed in quiet trading.

Butte Mining held at 2.75p. The Bulldog Fund, thought to be related to stockbroker Seligmann Harris, has built a 3.19 per cent stake. Butte's main occupation is pursuing US lawsuits - it is seeking damages of more than pounds 600m. But Butte may have to wait two years before its legal actions are resolved. In the meantime it has become involved in sapphire mining in Montana.

YRM, the struggling architect and town planning group, firmed 1p to 28p as stories circulated that an unidentified Hong Kong investor may bid for it, or at least take a significant stake. The group said it was examining its options, which include a refinancing. The directors have about 40 per cent of the capital. Losses have deepened and YRM has gearing of 50 per cent.

AN ATTEMPTED bear raid on Airtours was routed.

In a bid to enliven another soporific session and generate quick profits, some normally smart operators put around stories in early trading that the holidays group was finding the going particularly tough, with next year's price war already taking its toll.

For a little while the bears held sway. Airtours dived 15p to 430p. But soon the smell of burnt fingers wafted around. It quickly became known that the group was trading well and remained comfortable with stock market profit forecasts that stretch to pounds 75m. Last year it made pounds 45.5m.

Result: the bears were forced to run for cover, with the shares, in brisk trading, ending 4p higher at 449p as some institutional investors took advantage of the unsuccessful raid by buying stock.

'It should be a lesson to the bears; they have lost out badly in this exercise,' one trader said.

The rest of the market recovered from early hesitancy, with the FT-SE 100 index closing 3.8 points up at 3,175.1. The supporting FT-SE 250 index rose 3.6 to 3,753.4.

A firm New York display caused the swing, which was achieved on little turnover.

Utilities were again firm. Dividend yields remain a big influence. Electricities were again excited by talk of takeovers and share buybacks, with the leniency of the latest regulatory demands adding further support.

Glaxo put on 6p to 645p as stories resurfaced, yet again, of a big US takeover strike. Wellcome, up 9p at 709p, perked up on reported support from the stockbroker Cazenove.

British Steel, up 4.75p at 155p, was helped by a cheerful trading statement from a stainless steel company in which it has a 40 per cent interest. Shell gained 4p to 718p, with the worsening Nigerian situation making an impact, together with stories of a Dutch windfall tax.

Boardroom announcements caused much of the activity. Thorn EMI's figures, without the benefit of a demerger statement, left the shares 9p down at 1,054p; the sudden departure of NFC's chief executive, Peter Sherlock, sent the shares skidding to 185.5p, down 14.5p.

Nottingham, a hospitals and schools supplier, crashed 36p to 119p following figures. It was floated, with Goldman Sachs as the lead broker, in March.

Charter made further progress on its increased bid for Esab, the Swedish group, up 26p at 996p. Rossmont, where Berjaya of Malaysia is making a tender offer at 13.5p for 29.9 per cent, shaded 0.5p to 14.5p.

Another suitor is thought to be hovering over the maker of washing facilities.

Capital Industries, a label printer, lost early support after denying takeover speculation. The shares ended at 183p, down 1p.

Plantsbrook, the undertaker where Service Corporation International is stake-building, at one time touched 185p but closed 3p higher at 178p.

Dalgety, the food group, was firm at 464p as the stockbroker Williams de Broe suggested that the endeavours of its new management should produce rewards in a few years.

In the meantime, the analyst David Hallam expects disposals to improve sentiment. He suggests that profits for the latest year will be slightly higher at pounds 123m, with pounds 166m by 1997.

Rothmans dipped 9p to 393p on Smith New Court caution. The securities house was firm at 406p as it became known that Michael Marks, chief executive, had sold 60,000 shares at 405p.

The engineer APV edged ahead to 114p on SG Warburg support; Macallan-Glenlivet, the Scotch whisky group, moved forward 2p to 192p following NatWest Securities interest. The shares rose 10p on Monday.

London Clubs, the casino group, spun 9p higher (after 14p) to 256p. There is talk that it could be on the expansion trail.

The group, with six clubs, came to market at 200p a share in June.

Three casinos owned by Trevor Hemming, who runs Scottish & Newcastle's leisure side, are known to be on the market and if, as some suggest, Ladbroke does not complete the deal, LC could move in.

Prestwick's cash call received a poor reception, achieving only a 25.33 per cent take-up.

The unwanted shares, if buyers cannot be found, will be left with the underwriters. Prestwick, a maker of printed circuit boards, raised pounds 4.5m from the rights issue. The shares held at 23p.

Butte Mining held at 2.75p. The Bulldog Fund, thought to be related to stockbroker Seligmann Harris, has built a 3.19 per cent stake. Butte's main occupation is pursuing US lawsuits - it is seeking damages of more than pounds 600m. But Butte may have to wait two years before its legal actions are resolved. In the meantime it has become involved in sapphire mining in Montana.

YRM, the struggling architect and town planning group, firmed 1p to 28p as stories circulated that an unidentified Hong Kong investor may bid for it, or at least take a significant stake. The group said it was examining its options, which include a refinancing. The directors have about 40 per cent of the capital. Losses have deepened and YRM has gearing of 50 per cent.

(Graph omitted)

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