Market report: Smaller companies join the party as Footsie soars

Although most bargain hunters were busy offering a little belated seasonal cheer to retailers, a few strayed into the stock market, helping to send Footsie 98.5 points higher to 5,112.4.

For once the partying was not confined to blue chips. The FTSE 250 index rose 34.1 to 4,732.2 and the FTSE SmallCap index put on 6.8 to 2,296.8.

A few buyers nibbling here and there; futures activity, the usual array of new year tips as well as a strong New York opening combined to give an unexpected fillip to a session which most observers expected to be empty and downbeat.

But trading was thin. BG's buying-in of 236.7 million "B" shares, created to return cash to shareholders, accounted for much of the 512.5 million turnover. BG rose 4.5p to 280p.

Retailers responded to indications that Christmas trading perked up in the final days and the sales had got off to a good start.

Although few believe the gap in the festive sales volume will be completely closed, there is a growing feeling the market may have overdone the gloom factor.

So Marks & Spencer rose 29p to 610p; Argos 21.5p to 556.5p and Boots 18p to 878p. Others higher included Carpetright, 15p to 440p, and Next 12p to 691p. Tesco jumped 23.5p to 507p and Safeway, largely on takeover hopes, improved 11.25p to 338.25p.

Jeweller Goldsmiths, with a confident Christmas trading statement, sparkled 12.5p to 275p and encouraged support for Signet, the old Ratners jewellery chain, up 0.75p to 28.75p.

Engineer Siebe, 80p higher at 1,190p, was the best performing blue chip. Insurers Sun Life & Provincial and GRE were not far behind. Only seven blue chips gave ground.

Drink and leisure shares were cheerful but Matthew Clark, the under-performing cider and wine group, had a sobering time. The shares were at one time down 9.5p, ending off 3p at 163.5p, a closing low. Before its trendy cider sales were hit by the short-lived alcopops craze the shares topped 800p.

Takeover action continued on the under card. Independent Parts jumped 20.5p to 134.5p as mystery bidders - the existing management is probably one - were said to be hanging around with a 140p offer. The car parts group is the creation of Gartland Whalley & Baker, which specialises in nursing companies for a quote. GWB, up 2p at 105.5p, has 27 per cent of IP.

Long time sufferer Enviromed, a healthcare business, also attracted takeover excitement. The shares ended 2.5p higher at 8.5p after the company was spurred into action by a 3p jump. It said it had been involved in talks which had ended "some months ago". Tantalisingly it added it could not rule out an offer but then said the price it had discussed was "at a substantial discount" to the current price, presumably 6p.

United Biscuits hardened 10p to 220.5p, probably reflecting a revival in long-standing takeover hopes.

McBride, a maker of washing up liquids, held at 177p as investment group FMR bought 1.8 million shares, lifting its stake to 5.51 per cent.

Langdons, the tea and coffee group, gained 0.25p to 2p as three directors picked up some of the shares unloaded by Plantation & General, which still has 11.51 per cent.

Ionica's recovery continued. The fledgling telephone group rang a 20.5p gain to 123.5p. Earlier this month bear raiders drove the shares to 60p. They reached 421p after a 390p summertime flotation.

Waterfall, the snooker club chain, rose 9p to 81p; expectations are growing that European Leisure, with 18.5 per cent, is preparing a bid for full control. EL held at 135p.

Reflec, the refective ink group hit last week by a profit warning, recovered 7p to 16.5p; the shares have been as high as 126.5p.

Biocompatibles International gained 30p to 485p after winning European regulatory approval for its coronary stents (which support the walls of an artery), and ML Laboratories, down from a 468.5p peak, hardened 8.5p to 84p.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album