Market Report: New Year tips brighten a lacklustre day for Footsie

IT LOOKED at one time as if Footsie would reclaim the 6,000 points level, last visited in July.

But on a day renown for traditionally thin trading, blue chips were unable to hang on to their best levels and the index closed with a 74.3 gain to 5,941.5.

New Year tips, real and rumoured, provided some interest but as invariably happens at this time of the year offices existed with a skeleton staff. Many big hitters were away and those left in charge were more likely to make the type of precautionary move which often amplifies share movements.

The advent of the euro, prompting some big investors to sit on the sidelines, also restricted trading.

The Stock Exchange attempted to pierce the malaise by reporting it had enjoyed another record year with domestic volume up 2.2 per cent.

Supporting shares moved ahead. The mid cap index rose 30.7 to 4,843.5 and the small cap 9.3 to 2,061.7. Not for the first time General Electric Co was under scrutiny as it, and others, continued to play the euro defence game. The shares were at one time 39p higher at a 580p a share peak. They closed 8.5p up at 549.5p.

GEC is now said to be concentrating its corporate endeavours on four possible merger partners, including British Aerospace which has, on and off, been in the group's sights for years.

In fact six years ago, when BAe limped along at around 30p, GEC took a close interest in the then ailing group but decided not to bid. Others said to be in talks with GEC are Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the US groups, and Thomson-CSF of France, part owned by the French government which is said to be keen for talks to open.

Peter Craine, GEC's director of government relations, said: "It is too early to say who the front runner is."

BAe, firm at 518p, was on the verge of clinching a deal with DaimlerChrysler of Germany before GEC barged into the fray.

Insurance shares had to contend with suggestions the holiday storms will cost the industry more than pounds 100m; GRE was off 6p at 344p.

British Petroleum was down 8p at 908.5p. Just one hurdle remains to be cleared before its huge merger with Amoco can go ahead - clearance from the US Federal Trade Commission.

There are hopes the Federal Trade Commission will stir today allowing the deal to be completed tomorrow. If tomorrow's deadline is missed it is hoped the merger will go through next week. The new behemoth's capitalisation will be around pounds 85bn, the biggest on the stock market.

Asda, up 4.25p to 163.25p, again responded to Wal-Mart bid rumours and Enterprise Oil, regarded as another takeover candidate, improved 5.5p to 293p.

As if to underline the low level of trading, the two shares leading the Footsie leader board were its most illiquid constituents.

Schroders rose 64p to 1,167p with volume put at 120,000 shares and the investment house's non voting shares gained 51.5p to 996.5p with just 7,597 shares on the screen.

Takeover activity in the holiday industry, plus hopes of a bookings stampede, lifted Thomson Travel 11.5p to 160.5p. The shares are still below the spring-time flotation price and the 199p touched soon afterwards.

On the day of England's surprising Test victory against Australia, cricket coverage became a live issue with Galaxy Media and Television Corporation hoping to catch the next world cup.

Galaxy, up 15p to 76.5p, said it may bid for the next two World Cup competitions and TC, which has won the contract to cover domestic Test matches for Channel 4, will "almost certainly" attempt to cover the World Cup. TC shares gained 15p to 235p.

Quadrant Healthcare slipped 2.5p to 77.5p after 16.7 million shares issued when a company called Andaris was acquired were sold at 77.5p. Nomura appears to have picked up the stock, lifting its stake to 28.17 per cent.

Zetters, thinking of splitting itself into separate bingo and football pool companies, lost 9p to 118.5p. United Carriers, where entrepreneur Luke Johnson has picked up 7.1 per cent, advanced 7p to 33.5p.

Takeover hopes again inspired European Motor, up 8p at 70p, and motor dealer DC Cook reversed 1.5p to 21.5p as a Henderson fund trimmed its stake to 7 per cent.

Trafficmaster, the vehicle security group, had an uncertain session, ending 21p lower at 532.5p.

A report that its new anti-theft device was unsafe found little sympathy with stockbroker Killik.

"We believe the concerns raised were over played and the dip in the price is an opportunity to buy," it said.

MSB International, the IT recruitment group, made further headway, up 47.5p to 357.5p. An upbeat trading statement earlier this month has lifted the shares from a 140p low.

SEAQ VOLUME: 286.5 million

SEAQ TRADES: 35,620

GILT INDEX: N/A

ARTISAN, the house building and pub/restaurant refurbishment business that demerged from what is now Environmental Property Services earlier this month, is due to start work in January on contracts worth pounds 3.8m.

They include a new Belgo restaurant at London's Ladbroke Grove and a Pizza Express at Amersham.

Artisan shares have fallen from around 6p to 4p since the demerger while EPS is 8.75p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
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
and  

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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss