Market Report: Mineral groups suffer as metal prices take a pounding

After the oil spill it was the turn of mineral groups to take a pounding. RioTinto and Billiton were in the front line, reflecting the seemingly continuous slump in metal prices.

With little sign of any metals revival Rio fell a further 37p to 736p and Billiton 7.5p to 157p. Rio touched 1,109p last summer; Billiton was floated at 220p in July and subsequently hit 249p.

There were casualties among the smaller fry with Avocet Mining off 4p at 94p - it touched 241p last year - and Reunion, down from 138p, easing 6p to 85p.

Oils staged something of a revival although bearish comments continued to swirl around, with the investment house Henderson Crosthwaite cutting this year's crude price projection from $19 a barrel to $17.5. Positive noises from Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley lifted British Petroleum 13p to 778p. However Enterprise Oil, Lasmo and Shell remained under pressure.

In busy trading Footsie suffered its first fall of the year, off 40.3 points at 5,224.1. Supporting shares were more positive.

Asda was the best performing blue chip, rekindling hopes it still hankers for a chance to strike at its hard-pressed rival Safeway. The shares rose 6.25p to 185.75p, a year's high, with Safeway managing a 3.5p gain to 345.5p.

Northern Rock, the building society turned back, was knocked off its pedestal by comments it is the most expensive banking share in Europe and was 15 per cent overvalued. SBC Warburg offered to take profits advice. Still, the setback was confined to 4.5p at 614p as buyers moved in when the price retreated 12p.

Rexam, the packaging and paper group, had an uncomfortable time as Merrill Lynch lowered its share rating to neutral and cut this year's profit forecast from pounds 220m to pounds 205m. With a 7.6 million trade at 270p adding to their woe, the shares fell 16p to 275p. In 1995 the price reached 521p.

Merrill gave Securicor a friendly push with a buy recommendation; the price rose 13p to 313.5p.

Hambro Countrywide, the estate agent, was the hot takeover tip of the day. The shares bounded 11p to 115.5p as stories surfaced that the 52 per cent owned by Hambros, the merchant bank being acquired by Societe Generale, could be on the move.

Hambros has said that as part of its break-up its Countrywide stake will be distributed to its shareholders. Such a scheme could take six months to reach fruition and the yarn flowing around suggested an impatient bidder was seeking to short-cut the process. Hambros put on 3p to 255.5p.

Chemicals attracted attention. Albright & Wilson gained 9.5p to 155.5p on takeover talk and Hickson International was given a 7p speculative boost to 73p. Settlement of Courtaulds' long-running dispute over Lyocell fibre left the shares 1.5p down at 290p.

General Electric Co fell 7.5p to 394.5p as it started its pounds 300m share buy-back and ABN Amro Hoare Govett was said to be keen on the shares. National Grid, 9p higher at 313p, reflected buying for the special dividend payment.

Henderson repeated its buy advice on Rank, off 3.5p to 344.5p; it has turned cautious on Northern Foods, down 1.5p to 266,5p.

Booker, the food group, continued to draw comfort from Warburg support, up 20p to 353.5p.

Ionica, the fledging telephone group, held at 303p as Warburg, the bank behind the heavily criticised 390p flotation, acquired 343,000 shares, lifting its stake to 4.33 per cent.

A bullish trading statement from Electronic Boutique added 1.25p at 49.75p. The video retailer achieved 70 per cent sales growth over Christmas. But caution from Dawson, the newspaper distributor, shredded the price 39p to 176p.

Triplex Lloyd, the engineer. held at 272.5p as the bidder Doncaster, a US group, picked up a 6 per cent stake.

Zetters, the bingo and pools group, hardened 7p to 158.5p after admitting bid approaches had developed into talks although they were "of a very preliminary nature".

Verity, with a wafer-thin sound system, rose 3.75p to 73p; speculation intensified it was on the verge of clinching significant licensing deals. The group is taking part in a trade show at Los Vegas and, according to rumour, has received dozens of enquiries from hopeful licensees.

Blick, the electronic group, made further headway on bid hopes, up 22.5p to 320p. Printer Fairway, which has signalled bid interest, rose another 3p to 68.5p.

Jacques Vert, the troubled fashion group, returned from a two-month suspension at 22.5p, up 1p.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map