Market Report: New York sparks recovery from deep in the doldrums

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The Independent Online
SHARES staged a remarkable recovery. After spending much of the session deep in the doldrums, weighed down by higher interest rate fears, they perked up and the FT-SE 100 index closed 4.1 points stronger at 3,142.3.

As expected the stock market made a poor start, seemingly set to sink below 3,100.

But better-than-expected results from Unilever helped to steady frayed nerves, and when New York put on a positive display shares suddenly lost their inhibitions.

New York was encouraged by inflation figures that could at least delay the interest rate increase many expect next week.

Trading was often brisk, with the dealing ranks again depleted by the rail strike. Government stocks ended with gains of up to a quarter of a point.

Unilever was the star performer, closing 55p higher at 1,097p. It inspired Reckitt & Colman, weak recently on fears of a big rights issue to accommodate a US takeover. The shares, also enjoying Smith New Court support, gained 23p to 631p.

Food manufacturers also fed at Unilever's table, with Bernard Matthews, Northern Foods and United Biscuits among those to move ahead.

Royal Insurance was another blue chip to remain aloof from the early despair. It gained 14p to 279p, continuing to draw comfort from its figures on Thursday.

Electricities turned on another pulsating performance, continuing to reflect relief over the pricing directives of the regulator, Professor Stephen Littlechild.

Double-figure gains were evident throughout the list, although the generators and the two Scottish power groups missed the party.

The continuing strike in Nigeria helped leading oils. British Petroleum gained 1.5p to 410p.

Shell recovered an early fall when it became known it was in talks with Texaco to buy its lubricant additives business. The shares rose 2p to 720p.

Pittencrieff, the oil group shorn of its communications operations, held at 110p. There is vague talk of takeover action. The shares have been firm since the communications split.

A strong display by Tadpole Technology came to an abrupt end. The shares started the week at 385p and reached 418p before falling victim to the inevitable profit-taking. They closed at 402p.

The computer group was floated at 65p 18 months ago. In May pounds 6.8m was raised through a placing and open offer.

Tadpole suffered losses at the halfway stage but is expected to make pounds 2.5m in the year. For next year there are hopes of pounds 10m.

Plantsbrook, the undertaker, jumped 48p to 148p on the announcement that Service Corporation International, the US group that won control of Great Southern, had taken a 'strategic' 2.95 per cent shareholding. Turnover was around 300,000 shares, reasonable for such a little-traded share.

The French-owned Pompes Funebes Generale, controlled by Lyonnais des Eaux, the water group, has 46 per cent of Plantsbrook.

Bullers recovered an early fall, to close 0.75p higher at 17.5p. John Wilson, a director, purchased shares at 16p. There is market talk that the giftware-to- meat processing group is in discussions to buy two quoted companies.

Pacific Media, formerly Wilton, edged forward to 3p. It is raising pounds 6m through a one-for- four placing and open offer at 3p a share. The cash is needed to develop media operations in Asia.

Waterglade, where rebel shareholders are trying to oust the board, strengthened to 3.75p as the group disclosed further progress in its restructuring following a deal with Bank of America.

Unichem, the chemist retailer and wholesaler, improved 4p to 304p. Formerly a chemists' co- operative, the group has been expanding quicky. It has built a chemist chain from scratch and added wholesalers and hospital suppliers to its portfolio. There is talk of more acquisitions.

Tiphook, despite the non-appearance of the widely foreshadowed rights issue, fell 5p to 33p on the disastous figures. Union, another with poor results, retreated 6p to 108p.

Nightfreight returned to its 105p flotation price with a 5p gain following results. Interim profits advanced from pounds 539,000 to pounds 1.35m.

Sanderson Electronics shaded to 87p. Paul Thompson, chairman, sold 3 million shares at 85p, cutting his stake to 27.38 per cent.

Panmure Gordon placed the shares with institutions.

Magnum Power, slipped quietly on to the market by the stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden last week, has edged forward to 39p from its 35p placing. Richard Lucas at Henry Cooke believes the group, which is producing a chip protecting a computer's power supply, could swing into profit by 1996, when he predicts a pounds 200,000 out-turn. In the following year he sees a jump to pounds 8.6m.

Shareholders of stockbroker Dunbar Boyle & Kingsley have rushed to accept the 275p-a- share offer from Khalil Roushdi, an Egyptian investor based in Monaco. His bid for 90 per cent of the capital won the support of shareholders with 97.7 per cent and acceptances are being scaled down. DBK shares are traded on the twilight 4.2 market. Last price was 270p.

The FT-SE 100 index, at one time down 27.5 points, ended 4.1 higher at 3,142.3; the supporting FT-SE 250 index gained 2.2 at 3,728.8. Turnover was 640.3 million shares with 28,181 bargains recorded. Government stocks were up by up to pounds 1 4 .