Market Report: Next's smart rise leaves the rest looking dowdy

DEALERS FLOCKED to Next yesterday as talk of buoyant sales and bullish analysts' notes swirled around the clothes chain. The stock rose smartly throughout the afternoon and settled 9p higher at 748p as buyers did their shopping ahead of forthcoming interim results.

The word on the high street is that Next has had a terrific half and that results, due out on Wednesday week, could surprise on the upside.

According to shopping-mad traders, the purveyor of suits and skirts to the discerning middle-class customer has experienced a good spring and an even better summer.

In its May trading statement the company reported a 19.5 per cent jump in total sales thanks to last year's decision to revamp its supply chain and product offering after a disastrous profits warning.

Things appear to have picked up in the summer. While rival chains were forced to entice penny-pinching customers with longer sales, Next had a very short summer sale of just two weeks. As a result, the all-important full-price sales are expected to be sharply ahead. According to Morgan Stanley retail analyst Julie Ramshaw, a long-term buyer of Next, this bonanza should translate in interim profits of pounds 68m, compared with a mere pounds 44m last year.

The general bullishness on Next was compounded by whispers that a major European broker was preparing to reverse its long-time aversion to the stock with a positive research note.

New Look also caught the shopping bug . The trendy retailer bagged a 12p rise to 216.5p on talk of a strong uplift in summer sales and vague whispers of corporate action.

Activity in the rest of the market was more akin to a small-town shopping mall than the Harrods sale. The FTSE 100 finished 43.6 points higher at 6,375.7, but the closure of Wall Street for Labor Day reduced turnover to a thin 737 million.

The undercard was more exciting, with the FTSE 250 ending 50.8 higher at another all-time high of 6,173.2, and the Small Cap closing at a record 2,853.1 after a 16.1-point rise.

Drinks group Allied Domecq served up a cocktail of amusement and chaos. Friday's closing price was rebased from 583.5p to 328.5p to take into account the sale of Allied's pubs to Punch Taverns and Bass. However, a couple of information providers, including Reuters, mistakenly quoted a 370p opening price yesterday morning. When Allied's price started moving up on renewed talk of a bid from a foreign giant such as Pernod Ricard, the Reuters screens gave the misleading impression that the shares were actually falling. In the end, the mess was cleared up and Allied ended 30.5p up at 359p.

FTSE 100 heavyweight Vodafone AirTouch rang up a 48p rise to 1290p after confirming talks over a tie-up with US rival Bell Atlantic.

Most brokers are tipping a US phone joint venture, although braver minds favour a full-blown merger.

Bombed-out cable group Telewest Communications dug up a 9.75p rise to 254.75p as bargain-hunters were attracted by new talk of corporate deals. Orange pushed 23p higher to an all-time high of 1,076p.

Tobacco stocks were dragged higher by a positive ruling on a Florida court hearing. BAT rose 5.5p to 528.5p, while Imperial Tobacco jumped 24p to 738p even though it has little business in the US. Talk of a Philip Morris bid is still around.

Tesco bucked a weak supermarkets sector with a 4.75p rise to 197p on whispers of imminent buys and good trading. However, talk of depressed sales hit Morrison Supermarkets, 5.75p lower at 147.75p, and Somerfield, down 3p to 233p.

Insurer Legal & General shed 3.25p to 202p on the expected arrival of a 210p-a-share cash and paper bid from NatWest. The market does not approve of NatWest's decision to issue a wad of new shares to pay for the deal and sent it 9p lower to 1,134p.

Transport group Stagecoach, down 9p to 214p, was derailed by fears for overseas trading and talk of relegation from the blue-chips.

Among the minnows, a capital restructuring gave restaurant group Hartford an artificial 980 per cent rise to 63.5p, while British Biotech rose a real 6.25p to 37.25p on talk of a cancer drug link with a US pharmaceutical giant.

Reflective ink maker Reflec was flat at 3.87p despite talk of a major licensing deal in China. Video game designer Rage Software beamed 2.5p higher to a record 26.25p. There are whispers of strong forthcoming results.

Lingerie maker Sherwood Group rose 2.5p to 28p on revived talk of a management buyout at more than 40p per share. Applied Holographics sparkled 17.5p higher to 257.5p on whispers of contract wins for its 3D products.

SEAQ VOLUME: 737m

SEAQ TRADES: 72,604

GILTS INDEX: 106.04 -0.12

THE CLOSED-CIRCUIT TV and electrical group Silvermines, up 4.5p to 34.5p, is again buzzing with takeover talk.

Dealers believe the company could soon be targeted by a predator. The list of hot tips is headed by former managing director Clem Jansen, whose 46p-a-share bid was rebuffed a few months back. TT Group, the engineer which owns 6 per cent of Silvermines, could also have a pop. Any offer is likely to be pitched at more than 50p per share.

BOMBED-OUT minnow Dana Petroleum is believed to be close to a major announcement.

Well-connected traders are whispering that the exploration company could soon reveal a substantial gas discovery in one of its fields off the Dutch coast. Success in the project, jointly developed with two European partners, could inject some life into Dana's share price; the shares were unchanged at 9.5p yesterday, a long way from the 26p they touched three years ago.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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