Market Report: Fun and games mark the end of '98

TRADING MAY have been thin but the stock market indulged in some unusual fun and games in a final, mad 30 minutes on the last trading day of the year.

Footsie was down 98.7 points at mid-day. Just 12 minutes later the fall had been extended to 132.5 as, in futures led trading, investment houses endeavoured to end 1998 with their books square.

Yet by the close of the half-day session the decline had been reduced to 58.9 points at 5,882.6. The index had opened with a 3.4 gain.

Turnover was, for a shortened day's trading, a not unreasonable 188.2 million shares. Much of it occurred in the final stampede.

After the late rush to sell further weakened already depressed prices, buyers suddenly appeared with a series of programmes hitting the market.

When trading started there were hopes that Footsie would test the crucial 6,000 mark. But despite New York's overnight strength investors tended to sit on the sidelines. Once again price movements were exacerbated by the sheer lack of investment interest that is a traditional feature of the festive season.

Many investment houses again relied on a skeleton staff with their major players away, leaving understudies minding the shop.

In the past, the day before New Year's Eve has been a full trading session with the last day of the year reduced to a lunchtime close. This time, because of the advent of the euro, the market is closed today, re-opening on Monday.

During what has been an eventful year Footsie swung from an opening 5,135.5 to a peak 6,179 in June and then slumped to 4,647.7 in October before its rally in the past two months produced a year's gain of nearly 750.

Hays topped the Footsie leader board with a 21.5p gain to 527.5p following the pounds 35.3m acquisition of Axis Resources, an IT outsourcing group. Ronnie Frost, chairman of the business support group, said Hays planned to extend its IT outsourcing operations and he expected more deals next year.

Diageo, the wine and spirit giant, had a year-end hangover as Bernard Arnault, the French tycoon, quit, fermenting worries his LVMH is planning to sell its 10.84 per cent shareholding. The shares fell 21p to 684p; about half the LVMH stake was acquired at an average of 630p as Mr Arnault sought to influence the Grand Metropolitan/Guinness merger which he opposed.

Diageo and LVMH still have close trading ties which should survive a reduction or complete sale of the stake. Mr. Arnault is known to nurse ambitions to grow his luxury goods empire and would no doubt welcome the pounds 2.5bn or so the share sale would produce.

Rexam, the packaging and paper group, firmed 7.5p to 169.5p although it admitted it is not in possession of all the information it would normally expect over its pounds 380m Swedish takeover target, PLM.

Under Swedish law PLM is not obliged to provide details which would be necessary in this country. Rexam, therefore, is proceeding on the basis of published information, its own commercial assessment and the knowledge of its chief executive Rolf Boerjesson, who was chief of PLM for six years.

British Petroleum and its merger partner Amoco have won the go -ahead from the US Federal Trade Commission. They will have to shed around 134 US garages and make it easier for some other petrol stations to switch to other brands. BP fell 12p to 897.5p.

Financials were weak with Barclays off 37p at 1,296p and National Westminster 35p at 1,159p.

BICC, the cable and construction group, jumped 5.5p to 70.5p, highest since September, on hopes it will be a New Year takeover target. Wassall, the acquisitive group that took over TGI, the old Thorn Lighting, in October, is stake building. It may be stretched to mount a bid, with BICC capitalised at around pounds 300m, but its interest, it is thought, could provoke another party. Nine years ago BICC nudged 550p; the price was down to 38p before Wassall showed its hand.

Smaller companies were to some extent helped by the KPMG suggestion that institutions, which often ignore the mid and small cap shares, should rethink their policy as many on the under card are now looking under valued. The mid cap index rose 11.2 points to 4,854.7 and the small cap put on 9.2 to 2,070.9.

Topps Tiles, planning a one-for-one share split, slipped 10.5p to 226.5p. Moorfield, the property group, held at 165.5p. What looked like a fund- to-fund cross of just over 1 million shares went through at a little under the market price.

SEAQ VOLUME: 188.2 million


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor