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.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin