Market Report: Tiger turmoil worries banking giants in the Far East

market report
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The nightmare of a Far Eastern meltdown again tormented the HSBC banking giant, sending its sterling denominated shares 80p lower to 2,166p. The Pacific currency and share uncertainty is creating deep unease, prompting speculation a major crisis could develop.

HSBC, the stock market's biggest company with a capitalisation of around pounds 55bn, and the Standard Chartered banking group, off 17p at 834p, have felt the strain since the tiger turmoil first erupted.

As other banks soared in the EMU hysteria, HSBC, owner of Midland Bank,and Standard turned in muted displays. Just before the Far Eastern distress became apparent some analysts were talking brightly of HSBC hitting 2,600p. The best achieved was 2,347p.

The rest of the market had a subdued session, largely on the back of a survey showing the majority of the nation remains hostile to a single currency, despite the market's enthusiasm. Government stocks were obvious casualties, off by up to 75p.

It was, however, a dull session with trading relatively modest. The temptation to snatch profits after the recent heady run and the gilts weakness were largely responsible for Footsie's 30 8 points fall to 5,300. At one time it was down 62.8 but a firm New York display prompted a little support.

It could, of course, be argued that the alarms generated by Saturday's rehearsal for order-driven trading left many dealers depressed and ill- equipped for rousing action. Any deals in the real world must have seemed trivial compared with the order for 1 billion PowerGen shares, worth more than pounds 7.5bn, attempted on Saturday. Such playful antics forced 438 suspensions of the new system, which comes into operation later this month.

Barclays fell 17.5p to 1,680p on its BZW fiasco and Halifax, down 14.5p to 721p, and Woolwich, 6p to 307.5p, were hit by sell advice from Panmure Gordon.

Reckitt & Colman, the household goods group, was one to buck the trend, gaining 23p to 998p. A NatWest Securities push and a pending analysts visit to the group's US operations were responsible.

Ladbroke, the betting and hotels chain, was another in form - up 5.5p to 283.5p, highest for seven years. There is talk of a US hotel sale but it is the expectation that the US Hilton Hotels chain will start buying which is never far from the surface.

Arjo Wiggins Appleton firmed to 200.5p as a bid battle emerged for Worms & Cie, involved in a near 40 per cent shareholding in the packaging and paper group. There are hopes Worms will be broken up, leading to Arjo being put in play.

The Fine Arts Development split was well received. FAD rose 36.5p to 188.5p and the Creative Publishing spin off closed at 172.5p. The two are 36p higher than Friday's FAD close.

CIA, the media buyer, was little changed at 173.5p as WPP nudged its stake to 12.8 per cent.

Soco International was firm at 386.5p. It took analysts to see its Mongolian oil operations, which have been expanded.

RAP put on 11p to 53.5p after meeting institutions following a 15 per cent profits advance; chemical group Doeflex was another to respond to profits, a 23 per cent increase pushed the shares 16.5p higher to 242.5p.

Properties were again firm with Pillar, up 10p to 261p, leading the way.

Rage Software's reshaping continued with the sale, for pounds 1.7m, of its BCE amusement arcades.

Little Buckland Investments arrived at 15p a share and went to 17.5p.

Another start-up, Cambury Investments, placed shares and warrant units at 7.5p; the shares traded at 3.25p and the warrants at 1.25p.

Behind Cambury, a cash shell, is Damian Aspinall. A similar enterprise, Calidore, was launched 18 months ago. It has since taken over a New Zealand software firm and is now known as Keystone Software, unchanged at 65p.

Struggling ViewInn held at 52.5p. It raised pounds 253,000 through a placing at 39p and issued 107,000 shares at 50p to directors and consultants as remuneration and fees.

Comments