Market Report: Reuters' plans spark a surge of positive signals

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The Independent Online
REUTERS led shares higher. Determined US buying helped to push the information group up 81p to a peak of 2,159p.

The proposed four-for-one share split and the declared 19.8p final dividend are clearly attracting buyers. The group's recent profit progress has been outstanding and few expect the current year to be disappointing.

But amid all the fundamental excitement there is, at least in some quarters, a lurking suspicion that Reuters, with its international network and exciting prospects in the mushrooming information industry, could be attracting the attention of one of the US telecommunications giants.

The rest of the stock market was again in fine form as the panic continued to ebb from world bond markets and hopes strengthened that the next British interest rate movement will be downwards. A strong New York opening helped sentiment.

In the past two trading days, as the derivative worries that engulfed shares for much of last week have evaporated, the FT-SE 100 index has regained 69.4 points. Yesterday's 27.9 advance took it to 3,305.9.

But for three index constituents it was not a day for heady celebration. Unless they make remarkable headway today their membership of the exclusive Footsie club will be terminated.

The FT-SE committee, charged with selecting the index's constituents, meets tomorrow. It invariably bases its selections on the previous day's closing prices, which determine market value.

On present form it looks as though Anglian Water, down 7p at 504p; Schroders, up 10p at 1,123p, and Scottish Hydro-Electric, off 13.5p to 383p, will suffer the indignity of the committee's elbow.

In will come Da La Rue, up 9p at 975p; NFC, 5p higher at 260p, and Tarmac, unchanged at 200p.

For Schroders, admitted in September, and Scottish, a December recruit, Footsie membership has been a short-lived blessing. Schroders, with its heavyweight shares and two-tier voting structure, has not looked comfortable as a constituent and many suspect that it will not lament too loudly its removal.

NFC, the old National Freight Corporation, has been a clear candidate for re-inclusion since its successful rights issue. Tarmac indulged in a cash call last year.

Racal Electronics, up 7p to 229p, remained in the takeover frame, with Cray Electronics, unchanged at 191p, still the favoured predator. It is believed that Racal has started a series of investment meetings.

Among supermarkets, Asda gained 2.25p to 62.5p. It is being mentioned as a possible bidder for Wm Morrison, up 1.5p to 120.5p.

Forte, unchanged at 29p, continued to attract attention with its involvement in the Savoy Hotel prompting talk of a deal. One idea is that it will pump some of its up- market hotels into the Savoy in exchange for shares. Talk was also heard that it planned to buy the French-owned Meridien hotel chain.

Close Brothers, up 83p to 528p, responded to results. But BBA fell 9p to 207p on losses and British Vita lost 6p to 269p following a profit setback.

British Airways, delaying its signalled increased involvement in USAir, gave up 4.5p to 430p.

Hopes of increased foreign shareholdings lifted British Aerospace, 8p to 510p, and Rolls- Royce, 6p to 180p. The newcomer Cedardata, placed at 105p, touched 118p, closing at 115p.

Cupid, the bridalwear group, fell 6p to 16p as it admitted losses and a boardroom split. It said it would be 'substantially loss-making' and Richard Shaw, the man who was entrusted with revitalising the group, was no longer involved in executive duties. Another fund-raising operation will be required.

Hartons, the plastic group, slipped 0.75p to 6.25p. Losses continued but it is involved in talks that could lead to a 'substantial' acquisition.

Spring Ram held at 73p. Prudential Corporation, a leading force behind the revamping of the bathroom group, said it had acquired 11 million shares, lifting its holding to 10.34 per cent.

Bolton, a property group, rose another 3p to 45p. New directors, Mark Keegan and Christopher Mills, have arrived. The chairman, Ivan Goletka, has left. Waterglade, where a restructuring exercise is expected soon, is proposing to pay pounds 4.4m, presumably in shares, for a property portfolio owned by Helical Bar. There have been suggestions that Helical intends to emerge as a stakeholder in the revamped Waterglade, unchanged at 2.75p.

Northern Leisure jumped 10p to 51p. The disco group could, if it wished, resume dividends following a High Court decision. It said profits for the half-year ended last month would show a 'satisfactory improvement' over the previous year's figures.

Kenmare, the Irish resources group, rose 1p to 15.75p following a deal to develop a zinc mine in Bolivia.

The FT-SE 100 index rose 27.9 points to 3,305.9 and the FT-SE 250 index 10.4 to 3,937.7. Turnover was a modest 576.3 million shares from 31,328 deals. The account ends on Friday with settlement due on 21 March.

Alfred McAlpine, the builder, shaded 5p to 311p. Lyonnaise des Eaux-Dumez, the French conglomerate that once hoped to engage in joint ventures with McAlpine, sold its 11.3 per cent stake through stockbroker Charterhouse Tilney. The 6.4 million shares were placed with institutions at 304p. Charterhouse was said to have taken a 4p a share turn.

Global, a meat and shipping services group, rose 2p to 19p as Ken Manley emerged as a non- executive. He is thought to have a 7.2 per cent interest. Mr Manley, chairman of the unquoted Country Choice Foods, is best known as chief of the Freshbake frozen food group taken over by Campbell Soup, the US giant, for pounds 109m in l988. He went on to run Campbell's British operations.