Market report: Footsie reaches new high in spite of election jitters

Equities enjoyed another record-breaking session, drawing encouragement from New York's outstanding overnight display. Footsie stretched 22.8 points to 4,327.1, topping last week's peak by 19.3.

Yet political nervousness is becoming increasingly apparent. To a large extent election jitters have been masked by Wall Street's strength. Although the stock market has attempted to cling to Wall Street's coat-tails there is no doubt it has found it difficult to remain in touch.

Indeed the gap between Footsie and the Dow Jones Average is yawning wider and wider. At the start of last year it was around 1,400 points. When this year got under way the gap had stretched to 2,434 and as the market closed yesterday it stood near to 2,660.

However there remains a strong body of opinion that shares will continue to perform well although there is a suspicion the market could endure a bout of summertime blues.

Another outbreak of take-over activity, possibly due to the looming election, is helping to soak up some of the political uncertainty. The mystery predator at Chubb Security means a pounds 1.3bn offer is in the market and comes on the heels of the battle for Newman Tonks and Fairey's successful strike for Burnfield. Siebe's modest pounds 46m bid for Whessoe is seen as another indication that corporate Britain wants to get deals done and dusted before polling day.

Chubb, firm on Wednesday on takeover speculation, jumped a further 79p to 420p; the bid is expected to come in at 450p.

Unilever is also contributing to the takeover fuse. The chance of the Anglo-Dutch giant hitting the bid trail has increased this week with Reckitt & Colman, up a further 22.5p to 757.5p on SBC Warburg support, seen as the most likely target. Since Unilever's ambitions became apparent Reckitt shares have climbed 48p.

Smith & Nephew, the health care group, is another regarded as a possible target. The shares gained 9p to 188p, highest since November. Last year Smith & Nephew was the subject of heady bid speculation with Johnson & Johnson, the US giant, seen as the most likely predator.

Airtours, thought to be in the sights of Carnival, the US group with a 29 per cent interest, rose 19p to another peak, 956.5p.

The Chubb excitement spilt over to its former parent, Racal Electronic. A suspected meeting at Henderson Crosthwaite was another bullish influence. The shares rose 13.5p to 276.5p.

Emap, the publisher, was another thought to be meeting analysts; its shares edged forward 2.5p to 812.5p.

Shell, largely on its share-split, flared 27.5p to 1,089p; the rest of the sector, with the exception of Cairn Energy, had an indifferent session. Cairn was helped by renewed exploration interest in Bangladesh where it is deeply involved. The shares rose 22p to 557.5p.

Inchcape, the international trading group, gained 9.5p to 270.5p on Kleinwort Benson support and BAA, rose 4p to 545p on Lehman Brothers buy advice. Pearson was hit by the possible pounds 100m provision, falling 14p to 749.5p.

Utilities were unsettled by Gordon Brown's assertion that Labour's planned windfall tax would be legal; Thames Water fell 7p to 667p.

Imperial Chemical Industries gave up 7p to 751.5p as Salomon Brothers reduced its recommendation to hold. It has substantially downgraded expectations and is looking for little changed profits of pounds 611m this year and pounds 702m next.

An upbeat profits forecast - an unusual event in these days of profit warnings - sent clothing group French Connection 45.5p higher at 315p and ahead of figures today Flying Flowers moved up 3.5p to 215.5p.

Health shares were strong. SmithKline Beecham, figures soon, jumped 25.5p to 883.5p and Celltech rose 12.5p to 671.5p. Shield Diagnostic, still awaiting trial results on its method of detecting heart disease, gained another 45.5p to 370.5p. But British Biotech fell 9.5p to 239p on the surprising departure of finance director James Noble. At one time the shares were off 20p.

Copyright Promotions, the merchandising group, jumped 10.5p to 91p after signing up with Playmates Toys of the US for the development of the "Mr Men" brand.

Stockbroker Charterhouse Tilney had a busy day, collecting two brokerships - John Maunders, a builder, and Hunters Armley, a printer. Maunders held at 185p and Hunters at 102.5p.

Trocadero, the leisure group, fell 5p to 37p, a 12-month low, and director share-buying lifted wine bar operator Pembertons 4.5p to 25p.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
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 - 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...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

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