Market Report: Blue chips take the lead as shares rally

ANOTHER whiff of lower interest rates encouraged the stock market yesterday.

The much better-than-expected inflation figures submerged the cautionary comments of the Chancellor and future Governor of the Bank of England and the FT-SE 100, at one time nursing a 20.2-point fall, ended 8.7 higher at 2,843.

Government stocks managed to exeed the equity enthusiasm, often making strong gains.

For the second day in succession blue chip shares made the running. Second-liners were subdued and there were some sharp falls among fringe shares.

Still, it was fitting that a record-breaking account, which saw the FT-SE 100 index top 2,900 for just one minute, should end on a firm note. In the two- week trading period the index gained 35.8.

Bank shares were in fine form on the surprisingly sharp profit increase by Lloyds Bank. Fears of a dividend cut by Barclays receded and the shares rose 20 to 435p. National Westminster also gained 20p to 452p. Lloyds rose 6p to 534p.

TSB Group reflected the failure of any Lloyds takeover initiative, falling 2p to 170p. Lloyds Abbey Life, another rumoured target, fell 12p to 441p. But the other possible target of the Black Horse bank, Standard Chartered, continued to move ahead as some took the view that any bid would occur after the present banking profits season. The shares rose 8p to 653p.

Interest rate-sensitive shares were firm, with Boots gaining 11p to 490p and Kingfisher 13p to 527p. But the latest poor round of beer figures - production was down 6.5 per cent in November - unsettled some of the beerage. Bass fell 12p to 578p.

Supermarket shares were firm, helped by rumours that one of the big chains had concluded a wage settlement.

J Sainsbury put on 15p to 529p and Tesco 13p to 243p. Asda, with a little help from NatWest Securities, added 2p to 60.5p.

Clifford Foods responded to the agreed offer from Unigate. The voting shares jumped 50p to 573p and the 'A' 34p to 253p. Unigate improved 15p to 342p and Northern Foods, expressing relief that it was not the bidder, advanced 6p to 265p.

The little Dumas food group, which has been revamped and will soon be known as John Lusty, returned at 5p. The shares were suspended at 8p.

Vickers, up 3p to 134p, continued to reflect the perceived hovering presence of Charter Consolidated. Many suspect Charter will mount a bid following the disposal of its shareholding in the Johnson Matthey metals group. Unitech, the electronic group, advanced 17p to 218p as bid speculation resurfaced.

Airtours weakened on fears that it will be forced to increase its offer for the rival Owners Abroad, assuming its bid is not referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The shares fell 3p to 277p and Owners Abroad improved 1p to 119p.

ML Laboratories had another uneven session. At one time down 40p, the shares closed 10p off at 1,078p. The market has been unsettled by director share sales and the fear that stock is still on offer.

Amstrad, the computer group where a move to go private was rejected by shareholders, slipped 0.5p to 22.5p. Peter Cundill & Associates, the adventurous Canadian investment house, has picked up 5.5 million shares, lifting its stake to 5 per cent.

Hawthorn Leslie, the old marine engineer now involved in telephones, slipped 0.75p to 2.75p after it disclosed talks that could lead to an offer - below the opening share price.

But Castle Mill International, the clothing and giftware group, was firm on hopes of an injection. The shares have edged ahead in the past week on vague talk that the troubled group was about to be revamped. New shareholders have arrived, spurring the price 1p to 5.75p.

Mallet, the antique dealer, slipped 2p to 68p as it disclosed takeover talks had ended. Although the identity of the would- be bidder was not disclosed the market was convinced it was Asprey, the upmarket jeweller.

The blow of the bidder's departure was softened by Mallet saying first-half losses had been eliminated and a profit of pounds 500,000 was likely for the year.

Essex Furniture, figures in the next account, rose 7p to 108p but Cupid, the bridal wear group, celebrated the St Valentine weekend with the forecast of a 'substantial loss'. Talks are taking place for a group of investors to pump new cash into the business. The shares fell 3p to 35p.

Brown & Jackson, the Poundstretcher retailer, which achieved the distinction of being the best-performing share of 1992, edged forward 1.25p to 14.25p.

Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull said buy. It suggested the dramatically changed group could make profits of pounds 2.4m this year and pounds 5.4m next. It even ventured pounds 11.1m in 1995 and pounds 15.1m in 1996. A pounds 6.3m loss is forecast for last year.

Brooke Tool Engineering held at 8p as Roger Shute, ex-BM Group, confirmed a 4.52 per cent stake.

The account ended on a firm note, with the FT-SE 100 index swinging between a 20.2-point loss and a 20.5 gain. It ended 8.7 higher at 2,843. The FT-SE 250 index was 0.2 down at 3,006.3. Trading was again busy at 830 million shares from 38,505 bargains. Government stocks were strong

Panmure Gordon is bringing Yorkshire Food Group to the market. A share placing early next month will value the dried fruit and nut group at more than pounds 30m. YFG has grown rapidly, helped by acquisitions. Profits in 1990 were pounds 316,000 from sales of pounds 15m; in the following year they were pounds 1.52m from pounds 49m and last year hit pounds 2.72m from sales of pounds 63.2m.

Expedier, to be renamed The Ticketing Group, is the latest tiddler to attract the speculators. Yesterday the rescue package, including the issue of 600 million shares, was approved. Dealings should start on Monday. The business takes in the First Call and Keith Prowse ticket agencies and a computerised box office system supplier. The shares rose 0.25p to 1.75p.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone