Market Report: Cable and Wireless just can't get its numbers right

Cable and Wireless has dialled the wrong stock market numbers this year. It has suffered boardroom bust-ups leading to the departure of the chairman and chief executive, the collapse of merger talks with BT and continuing uncertainty over its prime overseas investment, Hong Kong Telecom.

The shares, perhaps hoping the worst is over, edged ahead 5p to 421p, a surprisingly upbeat performance on a day the market was in ragged retreat.

Still they are more than a dialling tone away from the 546p high hit when BT's hovering presence was confirmed and there seemed every possibility the nation's number two telecommunications group would be a powerful part of an international network.

Yesterday's modest gain was also prompted by hopes of action at its highly successful Hong Kong associate. Its value could increased immeasurably if its survives in style the Chinese takeover of the colony next year. Should the Chinese authorities allow - and present indications are not encouraging - it could reap significant rewards as the major telephone network in the Far East, plugging into the vast China potential.

But the bear story is compelling. Cable faces more intense competition and its new management team, led by American Richard Brown, has still to win its spurs. There are also stories that its partner in the UK Mercury telephone network, Bell Canada International, is preparing to pull the plug on the alliance. It is rumoured to be preparing to sell its 20 per cent Mercury stake.

Although Mercury's performance has improved, a Canadian exit could still be a blow to Cable, particularly if Bell, as is suggested, shows it is prepared to suffer a big loss on its investment to make its escape. Cable's own complacency in describing itself as bid-proof following the BT breakdown has also encroached on sentiment.

The stock market retreat from this week's peak continued with New York again providing the trigger for some significant marking down and just a little selling.

The FT-SE 100 index ended 17.4 points off at 3,867.5p. The supporting index fell a further 15.9 to 4,416.2.

Shares opened lower in response to New York's overnight fall. In the absence of much selling pressure they staged a recovery only to relapse as New York wilted again in the face of mounting fears that higher interest rates will be introduced soon.

Asda, weak since chief executive Archie Norman disclosed he was reducing his day-to-day involvement, recovered 2.25p to 112.5p as SBC Warburg set a 130p target price. Kleinwort Benson and Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull also like the superstore chain.

General Electric Co added 5.5p to 385.5p as its joint GEC Alsthom venture expressed plans to merge with Framatome, France's state-owned nuclear power station.

Frost, the independent petrol retailer squeezed as the forecourt giants waged a price war, was 5p firmer at 122.5p as more evidence emerged that price competition was easing. Figures are due next week.

Cairn Energy rose 13.5p to 361.5p on Barclays de Zoete Wedd and SGST support and BICC firmed 2.5p to 333.5p with ABN Amro Hoare Govett positive.

Firecrest, the never-a-dull-moment multi-media group, fell 14p to 44.5p. It is in talks which could lead to a takeover bid but the market was more concerned about its threatened share suspension on Monday following the departure of its advisers, Singer & Friedlander and Collins Stewart. If replacements are not appointed within a month Firecrest's listing will be cancelled.

First Information, a software developer where a possible bidder lurks, slumped 22.5p to 67.5p. Before it produced a subdued trading statement on Wednesday the shares were riding at 167.5p.

Inspirations, the holidays group, rose 12.5p to 152.5p as takeover stories circulated. Ex-Lands, the property operation which hived off its golf side, was another in the bid frame, up a further 1.5p to 10p.

But Blenheim, the exhibition group, fell a further 16p to 398p. After hours it was confirmed what the market suspected - takeover talks had collapsed. United News & Media was the favourite to strike.

Apollo Metal held at 125p. It is raising pounds 1.68m through a placing at 120p. The cash is needed to support increased trading levels.

Craig & Rose, a loss making paint maker, fell 72.5p to 150p in the narrowly traded Seats market. Waverley Mining fell 2p to 67.5p.

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering