Market Report: Second-liners rampant as Footsie edges to a peak

AT LONG last second-liners out performed their blue chip peers. As Footsie edged its way to a new peak, Midcap shares were in rampant form, with the FTSE 250 index surging 60.5 points to a 5,132.3 high. It was the sharpest advance since September when the stock market got hold of a story that the Government had softened its EMU stance.

The Midcap resurgence occurred at a time NatWest Securities said the second and third-liners were expected to record faster growth than blue chips.

IT shares provided much of the midcap impetus. Logica topped the list with a 107.5p gain to 1,472.5p. Misys rose 145p to 2,570p and Sage 70p to 1,275p. Besides the seemingly heady prospects for computer shares the market was caught on the hop by an acute shortage of stock.

The shrinking pool of shares was also a big factor in Footsie's progress, up 19.7 to 5,764.8. Fund managers are actively chasing shares and with few investors prepared to sell the inevitable pressure is upwards.

The Smallcap index was also strong, gaining 9.9 to 2,457.6, a record.

Utilities, particularly waters, made a contribution to Footsie's advance. After suffering in recent days on worries that the Government planned a much tougher regulatory environment, they found themselves floating on a rising tide of hope as the industry regulator, Ofwat, adopted a soft line over pricing which could influence any Westminster review.

Thames Water surged 50p to 895p; Seven Trent, said to have been gloomy about the government review, put on 35p to 929p and United Utilities rose 29p to 799p.

Even electricity shares responded. National Grid gained 16p to 338p and PowerGen 26p to 850p.

Elsewhere, the market drew strength from company results although Abbey National was a disappointment, off 100p at 1,220p. Centrica put on 6p at 108p on figures and the prospect of a Panmure Gordon review next week.

Takeover speculation cooled after Wednesday's rampant display but the hunt for possible targets continued, providing a whirl for one of the market's oldest candidates, United Biscuits.

In busy trading the shares hardened 13.75p to 272p, equalling their year's high. UB has enjoyed some spectacular surges in the past on takeover speculation. The shares once shot to 435p on talk of a bid from Cadbury Schweppes. It seemed the two did hold talks but price, not personalities, was the stumbling-block.

Signet, the old Ratners, sparkled with a 2p gain to 38.75p, highest for four years. An American bid or even a defensive alliance with Argos, fighting a hostile strike from Great Universal Stores, provided he encouragement.

Lasmo rose 20.5p to 277.5p on results. Its decision to pull out of Colombia could cause concern for supporters of Emerald Energy and others involved in the South American country.

"Almost every well we drill out there is a success. But they are just not material reserves ... with the capacity to support Lasmo's target of 50,000 barrels a day," said Joe Darby, the chief executive. Emerald, due to report on its Colombian drilling any day now, firmed to 9p.

Tullow Oil, as stories that its Bangladesh agreement had finally been signed went round again, rose 7.5p to 156.5p.

Ronson gained 3p to 9.5p on stories that Victor Kiam, the man who bought Remington because he liked the company, would become chairman. The struggling luxury goods group confirmed it was involved in a refinancing but did not comment on the Kiam rumour.

Photobition, the printing services group, gained 21.5p to 325p on the Henderson Crosthwaite investment dinner.

Colt Telecom's remarkable progress continued with an 85p gain to 1,235p. Last spring the shares were 267.5p. Other telecoms were firm, with BT up 4p to 606p and Vodafone 3.5p higher at 542.5p. Racal Electronics, on HSBC support and rumours of a telecom deal, rose 17.5p to 288.5p. SDX Business Systems, supplying sophisticated telephone switchboards, put on 5p to 227.5p after Dresdner Kleinwort Benson dialled a 300p target.

3i, the investment group, improved 26p to 571p after an investment presentation.

Motor shares, nursing some of the market's lowest ratings, firmed, helped by the Lex Service figures. Lex ended 14p higher at 460.5p.

The coming flotation of Desire Petroleum, owning the largest Falkland Islands offshore acreage, continued to create action at 20 per cent shareholders Greenwich Resources, up 0.25p at 21.75p, and Westmount Energy, 2p to 168.5p.

Computer group Spargo Consulting jumped 22.5p to 195p. Figures are due next week.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
musicYou'll have to ask Taylor Swift first
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness