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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine