Market Report: Shares rise to a new peak in hectic trading

SHARES STRETCHED to a new peak, with Footsie for the first time topping 6,300 points.

In a remarkable session the blue chip index rose 152.4 points to 6,307.6 in often hectic trading. Supporting indices, although moving ahead, were far less ebullient, as key investors once again concentrated their fire- power on leading shares.

New York's recent strength, the steady stream of satisfactory trading statements and the overflowing coffers of institutional investors were the major influences.

The Government's euro signal, sterling's weakness against the United States dollar, hopes of even lower interest rates and the activities of a persistent buyer in the futures market also contributed to the day's heroics.

The advance was achieved against a background of heavy trading with share turnover back above 1 billion.

Dixons, the electrical retailer, was one of the top performing blue chips, rising 73p to 1,163p on suggestions of an Internet book link with Bertelsmann, the German group. The three-year deal could hit WH Smith which, perhaps significantly, fell 6p to 530.5p.

Smith's was one of the few leaders to give ground. Mostly the stock market represented a rocketing display of rises with some significant gains achieved.

HSBC, the banking group, was the star constituent of Footsie with a 113p improvement to 1,783p. Suggestions that it might take over the Hong Kong government's 8.81 per cent holding as part of its buy-back programme helped.

The shake-up at Marks & Spencer lifted the shares above 400p again, up 19.75p to 401.75p, and BT crashed through the 1,100p barrier with a 46p surge to 1,118.5p as Cellnet, its 60 per cent owned off-shoot, unveiled an Internet service provider.

Hi-tech excitement also extended to the likes of Arm, the chip-maker, up 427.5p to 2,467.5p; the shares arrived at around 800p last April. Acorn, with an Arm stake that is worth more than 300p a share, jumped 26.5p to 190p.

BSkyB, the satellite television station, managed a 17p gain to 553.75p ahead of an investment dinner last night at the Savoy hotel in London. Henderson Crosthwaite hosted the event, which was due to be attended by 22 fund managers.

Whispers of corporate action helped the market's advance. Some felt they detected signs of activity at Scottish Media, up 16p at 828.5p. Flextech, with 18.5 per cent, firmed 37p to 775p.

On the undercard, electrical equipment group Delta, on talk of a bid from either the TT conglomerate or a US group, firmed 6p to 123.5p, and old bid favourite David S Smith, the packaging group, hardened 6p to 114.5p.

Greenalls, the hotels to pubs chain, remained in the frame with a 12p plus at 386.5p. Scottish & Newcastle, up 37.5p to 707.5p, and Whitbread, 38p higher at 923p, remain the market's favourites to pounce. Three years ago Greenalls, then a Footsie constituent, hit 633p.

Game, the computer games retailer, moved ahead in early trading before the group indicated possible bid action. Rival Electronics Boutique then emerged as the possible predator although Dixons is said to be hovering. Game shares ended 28p higher at 130.5p.

Pemberstone, a property group, gained 14.5p to 63p as a management buy- out was signalled. Devro, the sausage skin maker, firmed 1.5p to 164.5p despite the denial of any approach.

Results met a mixed response. Cadbury Schweppes headed the Footsie fallers, melting 34.5p to 1,000p and Centrica's maiden payments were greeted by an unchanged 122p price.

But banker Standard Chartered hardened 22p to 832.5p, despite a sharp profits decline.

Rolls-Royce, year's results next week, climbed 9.5p to 269p and British Aerospace, figures today, rose 13.5p to 441p despite the worries over the Al Yamamah oil-for-arms contracts.

Diageo, the spirits group, strengthened 32p to 692.5p following the sale of six US brands, and WPP, the advertising agency, gained 17.75p to 487.75p after picking up an estimated extra pounds 90m of billings from Kimberly Clark.

The supermarket price war continued to take its toll with Asda and Wm Morrison giving ground. Tesco was little changed at 172.75p with CSFB lifting its profit forecast for the year ending this month from pounds 850m to pounds 870m. It seems the investment house also put a hold tag on the shares which had previously been regarded as a sell. A profit warning from food group John Lusty sliced the shares 1.25p to 5p and Calluna duly produced the expected response to its Tuesday caution, slumping 7p to 16p with share turnover a heavy 28 million.

MFI, the furniture group, which produced a gloomy statement as the market closed on Tuesday, ended 2.5p down at 33.5p.

Atlantic Telecom, which hitherto operated only in Scottish cities, rung up a 15p gain to 167p after winning five regional licences in England.

Versailles, the finance group, checked up a 13.5p advance to 130.5p following investment meetings.

BGR, the restaurant group, firmed a further 22.5p to 172.5p. The shares were 130p ahead of results on Monday.

Shield Diagnostic slipped 7.5p to 510p. Its proposed merger with Axis Biochemicals of Norway has run into a hitch and will not be agreed, as expected, this month.

It seems some that Axis shareholders want more information, although chief executive David Evans believes the odds on the pounds 177m deal going through "still remain in our favour".

Antonov, the gearbox designer, held at 59p ahead of the disclosure of a pounds 1m share placing at 55p. Last year's loss was pounds 21.m. The shares were 115p last autumn.

SEAQ VOLUME: 1.07 billion

SEAQ TRADES: 89,801

GILTS INDEX: 114.97 -0.35

CARD CLEAR, the group specialising in credit fraud prevention, held at 39p, not much above the year's low.

Profits are due today; they are expected to come out at around pounds 3.8m, double the 1997 figure.

The group is also believed to be on the verge of clinching a deal with the relevant organisation, which will provide retailers and others with an on-the-spot ability to detect "hot" or dubious credit cards.

ANOTHER COMPANY is on its way to market - via a reverse takeover. Wilmslow, a little AIM-traded business, was suspended at 2.25p after buying Media Content, a sports media consultancy in exchange for shares. As part of the restructuring, Wilmslow's existing business, Quaser Sports, a clothing company, is being sold to its management for pounds 250,000. Since arriving last summer, Wilmslow shares have moved between 2.25p and 2.5p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before