Market Report: Rally is wrong-footed by the Russian right

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THE RUSSIANS, in the shape of the far right-winger Vladimir Zhirinovsky, killed what had appeared to be a strong blue-chip advance yesterday.

At one time leading shares, spurred by futures trading, were storming ahead, seemingly intent on achieving another record- breaking performance.

But then the election success of Russia's ultra-right began to erode sentiment. By the close a 23-point gain by the FT-SE 100 index had about-turned to a 6.2 fall at 3,248.4.

Late uncertainty about the Gatt talks and a weak New York opening were other inhibiting influences.

In early trading the scent of lower interest rates - many expect a cut today following the announcement of the retail price index - was the main inspiration. Stock shortages and New York's overnight record also contributed.

But for the second trading day blue-chip unease failed to disturb the second-liners. They were again in form, with the FT-SE 250 index up 6.7 to 3,614.3.

Insurances were the worst performing sectors. Fears of more IRA mainland bomb outrages and the erosion of the Securities and Investment Board's investigation into personal pensions took their toll.

Legal & General fell 11p to 515p, Prudential 6p to 347p, General Accident 18p to 706p and Royal Insurance 12p to 311p.

Some retailers were ruffled by a more cautious Confederation of British Industry survey, but interest rate hopes kept many on the boil.

Building and construction shares also enjoyed the prospect of cheaper money. But the main interest rate beneficiaries were the water shares, which even managed to ignore the apparent mix-up over European Union policy on bathing and drinking water standards.

Racal Electronics rose 7p to 178p following a Smith New Court-hosted presentation. The securities house nudged its profit forecasts higher - from pounds 51m to pounds 52m and from pounds 56m to pounds 59m. .

Fisons, in another busy session, lost 4p to 109p and Trafalgar House greeted its cash call and loss with a 10p decline to 77.5p.

British Petroleum, at one time up 8p, ended 2.5p higher at 326.5p. But oil minnow Aminex picked the wrong day to announce its signalled move into Russia.

The shares held at 88p as it disclosed a joint venture in the republic of Komi which should be income producing from the start of next year. Aminex is offering new shares on a one-for-four ratio at 79p.

Bakyrchik, seeking gold in the former Soviet Union, was another casualty, down 72p at 333p - against a 120p summer floation - as profit-takers snatched their rewards.

Television shares bobbed around on the Granada, LWT (Holdings) and Yorkshire TV triangle. Radio shares, however, remained firm as the flow of results continued.

Rothmans International gained 11p to 436p, helped by Panmure Gordon comments. But Croda International, the chemicals group, continued to suffer from the Hoare Govett downgrading, falling 7p to 331p.

Arjo Wigins Appleton rose 3p to 243p. Barclays de Zoete Wedd left this year's forecast unchanged at pounds 120m but plans to lift next year's to around pounds 146m.

On the property pitch Scottish Metropolitan firmed to 93p. Its rights issue achieved a 94.1 per cent take-up, with SG Warburg placing the rump at 92p.

James Dickie, an engineer, was at one time 24p higher on a story that an unidentified analyst had sharply increased profit estimates. The company said it knew of no reason for the excitement and the shares relapsed to 90p, up 9p.

Business Technology, 2p higher at 15p, duly announced its takeover, a photocopier and fax machine group called Automatic Business Communications, for pounds 1.1m.

Intrum Justitia, the debt collector, fell 28p to 100p on a profit warning. MAI, with a 17.4 per cent stake, eased 4p to 249p. Engineer Whessoe tumbled 27p to 228p following disappointing profits.

BSG International held at 60p. The group is thought to be about to start a round of City investment meetings. Kells Minerals rose 4p to 19.5p. Talks are taking place that could lead to an acquisition.

Vardon, the rapidly growing leisure group, rose 6p to 112p. There is talk of another significant deal, possibly the takeover of a casino chain.

The FT-SE 100 index ended 6.2 points down at 3,248.4 but the FT-SE 250 index rose to a new peak, up 6.7 to 3,614.3. Turnover was 705.4 million shares from 29,456 deals. The account ends on 31 December with settlement on 10 January. Gilts were easier.

Casket, the cycle and clothing group, is attracting increasing attention with some of the buying coming through Panmure Gordon. Directors picked up more than 300,000 shares. The takeover of a German cycle maker has prompted Panmure to lift this year's profit forecast by pounds 100,000 to pounds 4.1m and add pounds 1m to next year's estimate, now pounds 6.2m. The shares held at 40p.

Dealings in Mercury World Mining Trust, which pulled in pounds 425.8m and therefore qualifies as the largest investment trust launched in Britain, start today. MWMT is the brainchild of the metals guru Julian Baring, whose Gold & General unit trust has been a high-flyer. The shares are expected to open at around 97p with the attached warrants at 40p, a modest premium.

There is a growing suspicion that Manders, the paint and printing ink group, is near to selling its Manders Centre, a retail complex at Wolverhampton. The property was valued two years ago at pounds 57.5m. The market is convinced that offers have been made comfortably in excess of the valuation. Manders shares rose 6p to to 330p, a two-day gain of 12p.

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