Market Report: Financial shares set the pace as takeover hopes grow

Shares

Financial shares, which for long led Footsie higher on technical considerations, are once again setting the pace - but this time its down to takeover hopes.

Abbey National stole the stock market show yesterday. Others, like Norwich Union and Woolwich, also enjoyed the action.

At one time Abbey was up 42p; it closed with a 34p gain at 954.5p. The first building society to turn itself into a bank has already had an eventful year, holding talks with a number of rivals and being linked with the likes of National Westminster.

Now it is being suggested that Barclays, when it collects its BZW cash, could be tempted into a bid by Abbey's huge mortgage book. But the suspicion that it could regard Abbey as too big to swallow drew attention to Woolwich, up 3.5p to 317.5p. It is capitalised at pounds 5bn against Abbey's pounds 13bn.

The Abbey advance was helped by bullish comment from HSBC, ahead of a trading statement in the next two weeks.

Norwich Union remained firm, gaining another 3.5p to 351.5p with NatWest Securities still on the buy tack.

Other insurance groups made headway with speculation about corporate action never far away. GRE gained 7p to 325p; General Accident 19p to 1,085.5p and Commercial Union 9p to 806.5p.

The feeling activity is near also lifted Halifax, 14.5p to 742p; it is big enough and has the resources to mount a major strike and insurance is an obvious attraction. Lloyds TSB, another with insurance ambitions, gained 8.5p to 791p.

Northern Rock, the last building society to convert into a bank, was also engulfed in speculation. A bid from a long-standing bank - Barclays, again, or National Westminster - was one story. An even more bizarre one contemplated a strike from Great Universal Stores. Such a deal would be the ultimate in the current round of bank-retailer links. The shares jumped 16.5p to a 498p peak. They ended their first day's trading last week at 463p.

The earlier more technical financial feast stemmed from the rush of demutalisations, forcing tracker funds to adjust their portfolios.

Footsie, in lacklustre trading, manage to yawn to a 9.5 points gain at 5,227.3. Supporting shares made headway with the FTSE SmallCap index reaching a peak.

Ladbroke's impressive canter came to an abrupt halt as SBC Warburg suggested a 270p price; it fell 5p to 293p.

RioTinto, the resources giant, added 4p to 974.5p following an analysts' trip to Nevada but GKN dipped 7p (after 35p) to 1,396.5p following Societe Generale Strauss Turnbull caution.

Appleyard, which has looked vulnerable for some time, motored 12.5p to 78.5p as Jardine International, the Far Eastern group, appeared with an 80p-a-share offer pricing the garage chain at pounds 53.3m.

Redland hardened 17.5p to 257.5p as takeover rumours went the rounds. Last week chairman Rupert Agnew conceded the hard pressed building materials group could be wide open to a bid. However some of the gain could have been due to the higher German interest rates, which should take some of the pressure from Redland's continental operations.

Premier Farnell, the electrical equipment distributor, added 10.5p to 551p ahead of Monday's interim figures. Around pounds 74m against pounds 63.8m is expected.

Allied Domecq, the pubs and spirits group, rose 5.5p to 496p, anticipating its strategic review and Highland Distilleries, the Famous Grouse Scotch whisky group, bumped along at its 12 month low of 284p; there are worries it may have to help out its French partner, Remy Cointreau, through a rescue bid or capital injection.

Engineer IMI added 10p to 439.5p, a high. The company is benefiting from its pounds 86m take over of Herion-Werke, a German pneumatic valves group.

Nottingham Forest, the latest football club to make its debut, failed to score, ending at 61p against the hoped-for 70p.

Pan Andean Resources held at 35p. It and other mining shares in the John Teeling stable are thought to have been depressed by a forced seller.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week