Market Report: Selling of futures puts an end to early rally

A FURTHER bout of selling of futures unhinged share prices yesterday and left the market on an unsteady footing ahead of today's climax to the long three-week account.

The FT-SE index of the 100 leading equities lost 10.2 points to 2,786.3, but dealers were concerned about the June contract in the futures market, which went to a discount at the close at 2,780.

Trading appeared to be healthy, with more than 680 million shares changing hands, but volumes were flattered by several basket trades.

A positive push in the morning, which saw the FT-SE 100 rise above 2,800, lacked backbone with investors continuing to sit tight ahead of an expected deluge of cash calls in the next couple of accounts.

Over the account so far the FT-SE 100 has registered a spread of more than 100 points. It climbed from 2,824.4 at the outset to 2,881.1 in the first four days, but has only recorded gains on two trading days since.

Trading in options was very subdued. BTR was the most heavily traded, producing more than 1,900 calls. However, shares in BTR, seen as a possible bidder for Lucas Industries, fell 9p to 583p.

There is a deep-seated belief in the market that a big takeover bid is on the way. United Biscuits, high on the City's list of likely targets, rose 6p in morning dealings but drifted back to 421p, up 1p, as the renewed speculation died away.

Takeover talk again involved Gestetner, which rose a further 4p to 120p. Trading in the very tightly held shares amounted to a steady 776,000, and a couple of delayed trades appeared on the screen in late dealings.

James Wilkes gained another 1p to 71p on rumours that Suter, headed by David Abell, was preparing to strike soon.

Overall, there was little grist for the rumour mill and there was only a thin spread of corporate results.

Companies that did report included BP, which advanced 10p to 306p on better-than-expected first- quarter profits. More than 9 million shares were traded.

Bank of Scotland, however, eased 1p to 137p on a 45 per cent rise in bad debts to pounds 372m. Jefferson Smurfit fell 4p to 243p on news of a 40 per cent decline in annual profits.

In leisure, Ladbroke Group came under further pressure and closed 3p off at 157p, just above the year's low of 154p. The fall was despite NatWest Securities reaffirming its buy recommendation in a circular on the group's betting operations.

Ladbroke's shares, one dealer said, were suffering from concern about a possible overhang of millions of shares if shareholders place large chunks of their enhanced scrip issue dividend.

Forte slipped 1p to 192p. The company formally launched a motel chain in Italy as part of a push to expand its presence in Europe.

Water utilities had a better session, benefiting from a positive stance by UBS. Anglian Water gained 4p to 492p, NorthWest rose 7p to 492p and Yorkshire firmed 4p to 533p.

Hutchison Whampoa eased 1p to 160p following a placing in Hong Kong of 250 million shares at HKdollars 18.30.

A 2p fall to 70p greeted Chiltern Radio's news that its licences to operate three FM and three AM local radio stations had been renewed until 2002.

Tomkins retreated by 12p to 224p on reports that 1.5 million shares were on offer through BZW. Volume trading was 3.5 million.

A Goldman Sachs buy note lifted Legal & General by 5p to 449p. BAA, favoured by James Capel, gained 5p to 740p.

A morning rally in share prices was short-lived, and the FT-SE 100 index failed to hold on to ground reclaimed above 2,800. After showing an early advance of 9.5 points to 2,806, the index finished 10.2 lower at 2,786.3. Account ends today, and settlement is on 17 May.

Shares in P-E International, the UK's oldest management consultancy group, surged 12p to a 1993 high of 76p. There were rumours that US institutions were taking an interest in the belief that the company would soon announce several long-term contracts, including one in China. Analysts expect profits this year to recover to pounds 700,000 before tax, having collapsed from pounds 1.6m to just pounds 160,000 in 1992.

There are signs that Sir Brian Wolfson is shoring up his defences ahead of a threatened assault on his chairmanship of Wembley, owner of the national stadium. Orpington Investments, an ally, has lifted its holding to 10.86 per cent by buying another million shares. David Griffiths, former Wembley chief executive, is understood to be trying to incite a shareholder rebellion. The shares remain at 17p.

Wiltshire Brewery advanced 3p to 12p, a high for 1993, on talk that a single buyer was mopping up surplus shares on dealers' books. The company was recently transformed from being the smallest quoted brewer by a tie-up with United Breweries of India, run by Vijay Mallya. Investment Bank of Ireland, which advised Wiltshire on a purchase of 28 pubs, recently paid pounds 1.6m for a 19.24 per cent stake.

Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

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...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
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