Oil majors give erratic New York the cold shoulder

DEREK PAIN

The unpredictable US employment figures, which have achieved a justified reputation for tripping share markets, were at it again yesterday.

Footsie, looking distraught for most of the morning session, suddenly plunged more than 50 points as alarm bells echoed around the stock market about New York's likely response to strong US jobless figures. In the event the Dow Jones Average survived, at least during London opening, the jobs data in rather better shape than had appeared likely; so by the close Footsie's alarmist fall had been cut to 30.4 points at 4,056.6. The weakness of the Tokyo market was once again largely ignored.

Oils and power shares were oblivious to the machinations of US statistics. The prospects of more cold weather helped the major oil groups higher and it was the continuing takeover speculation, plus hopes of positive trading developments, which kept second-liners on the boil.

Cairn Energy rose a further 17p to a 485.5p peak although the headlong advance of British Borneo Petroleum Syndicate slowed with a modest 10.5p gain to 1,021p. Lasmo was the day's best-performing blue chip, up 8p to 243.5p.

Panmure Gordon recently put a 300p valuation on the shares, but any bidder, and there is a growing suspicion one might appear soon, would probably have to pay around 350p.

National Power and PowerGen, the generators, continued to defy gravity. There is persistent demand for the shares which can only partly be due to dividend yield considerations. PG surged 9p to 596p, taking it to near its year's high. NP rose 11p to 478.5p.

Stores were rattled by the surprisingly downbeat Argos trading statement. Argos slumped 110p to 623p, unsettling Next, off 22.5p at 529p; Great Universal Stores 22.5p to 580p; Marks & Spencer 17p to 465.5p and Dixons 13.5p to 494p.

Lloyds Chemists added 14p to 526.5p as one of the bidders, the German Gehe group, lifted its bid to 525p and moved into the market, building a 20.91 per cent stake.

Financials, on hopes of corporate activity, were strong with M&G, the unit trust group, 79p higher at 1,199p. Hambros, the merchant bank which saw off the unwelcomed attention of corporate raiders Regent Pacific last year, gained 16p to 253p as SBC Warburg drew attention to its controlling stake in high-flying Hambro Countrywide. The estate agent was unchanged at 111p after climbing from 36p in the past year.

John D Wood, the estate agent, is expected to produce figures later this month; around pounds 1.2m is expected. The shares fell 2p to 87.5p.

Fenchurch, the insurance broker, seems set to collect the rumoured bid. The shares rose 8.5p to 66.5p after merger talks with Lowndes Lambert, up 7p at 110p, were announced.

The proposed deal is the latest example of consolidation in the insurance broking industry. More get-togethers are expected.

Ryland, the garage group, motored 28p to 107.5p after reporting a bid approach and Arabis, an engineer and jewellery group which used to be called Excalibur, moved ahead 5.5p to 22p as bid talks opened.

Imperial Chemical Industries remained under the whip of the HSBC James Capel downgrading, falling 16p to 735p after touching 716.5p. P&O, on Kleinwort Benson support, rose 17p to 620p.

The market continued to awaken to the problems sterling's strength holds for many groups. Tate & Lyle was lowered 16.5p to 468.5p as UBS downgraded on currency concerns. The three spirit giants were also on the receiving end of currency worries. Allied Domecq lost 8p to 424.5p; Grand Metropolitan 13p to 432.5p and Guinness 3p to 436.5p.

NatWest Securities knocked Williams Holdings, the conglomerate, 7.5p to 336.5p by repeating its sell advice. It believes Williams' sum-of-the- parts valuation is 317p.

SIG, the former Sheffield Insulation, rose 9.5p to a 274.5p peak. Buy circulars appeared this week from Teather & Greenwood and Merrill Lynch and a 280p agency cross intrigued the market. T&G is looking for profits of pounds 33m last year, up from pounds 24.1m. This year's estimate is pounds 40m.

Superframe, reflecting Dean Corporation's control of 25.8 per cent of the photoframe group's capital, gained 2p to 20p.

Atlantic Telecom rose 3p to a 150.5p peak on ABN Amro Hoare Govett support.

Fulmar, which came to market last year, gained 3.5p to 165p after doubling its turnover by paying pounds 1.25m for City printer WR Royle.

Taking Stock

r JBA, the software developer, is riding high, partly on hopes it will make a killing by contributing to solving the computer millennium problem. Kleinwort Benson is thought to have produced a buy note and NatWest Securities is also putting pen to paper. JBA, with US quote ambitions, should have produced profits of around pounds 13m last year and pounds 16m is likely this year. The shares, floated at 160p in the summer of 1994, are near their high at 641.5p. They would be higher if a US valuation was applied.

r Shares of Partco, the Coventry-based group ranking as the nation's largest car parts distributor, have accelerated as winter's grip has tightened. They have climbed 32.5p to 354p this month on thoughts about the damage to cars from road grit and salt treatment.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
books The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?