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.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on