Shares: Another record-breaker and even the small fry join the party

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The Independent Online
It was another record breaking session. Although the action did not approach Friday's madcap stampede, Footsie ended at yet another high with institutions, in busy trading, chasing selected shares.

The blue chip index rose 23.9 points to 5,244.2, topping its previous peak by 17.9.

Even the undercard cheerfully joined the party. The FTSE 250 index rose 13.8 to a 4,829.9 high and the FTSE SmallCap index, although a long way from uncharted territory, managed to keep up its recent run with a 10.3 advance to 2,335.

The much better showing by the supporting indices has reawakened hopes that second and third liners are at last ready to fully enjoy the stock market run which has seen blue chips romp ahead this year.

It should, Robert Fleming Securities has pointed out, have been the year of the underdogs. It was the time in the economic cycle for SmallCap earnings to do well and investors to buy.

Recently US smaller companies perked up and a similar revival could be under way here.

At one time Footsie was up 48.9. It was pulled back by a hesitant New York. Futures trading was again a major influence and there is growing evidence that the arrival this month of order driven trading is prompting some market makers to adopt a rather less active blue chip role. It is as if some are already winding down.

Typically, on the last day of a quarter, there were signs of window dressing by some fund managers. It has been suggested that some who mistrusted the market's bull run have been buying since the EMU story broke on Friday. Turnover approached 1 billion shares.

Insurances, after their strong run on Monday, had to contend with an array of cautious comment and their progress came to an abrupt halt.

Rolls-Royce gained 10p to 256p, presumably still drawing support from the weaker pound. But other sterling beneficiaries such as TI and GKN gave ground. Worries that they could be tempted into countering the US bid for T&N inhibited sentiment.

BTR rose 3p to 251.5p; its 1997 warrants, giving the right to buy shares at 258p, rose 1p to 3p.

Land Securities, up 14.5p to 980.5p, was helped by the general re-rating of the property sector; British Land rose 10.5p to 652p.

It is regarded as the most likely bidder for MEPC, 1p firmer at 522.5p. In what is seen as a defensive manoeuvre MEPC is retreating from foreign parts and returning at least pounds 300m of the pounds 568m it expects to raise to shareholders.

BT fell 3p to 409.5p; SBC Warburg has put a 550p target on the shares. A modest Merrill Lynch profits downgrade failed to ruffle Carlton Communications, up 9p to 514.5p. Reed International staged a rally, up 18p to 525p, as Credit Lyonnais Laing and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson made positive noises.

Storehouse, unwanted and bumping along at 185.5p in July, added another 3.5p to 254p. Most analysts are adopting a more positive stance. The shares were 312p a year ago,

Drugs were healthy with Glaxo Wellcome 29.5p higher at 1,394.5p on American approval for its HIV tablets. Biocompatibles International improved 43.5p to 627.5p, clawing back some of its recent fall. Stanford Rook provided the latest cautionary biotech tale. It crashed 390p to 150p after it disclosed its key TB treatment had no effect on patients.

Trading statements took their toll. Global, a meat group, was gnawed 3.25p to 16.75p and oils group Acatos & Hutcheson lost 21.5p to 275p.

Car Group, running car supermarkets, motored 8.5p to a 215p peak. It recently expanded, buying rival dealer Empress for pounds 20.3m. The company has launched warranties for second hand cars. It has linked with Lloyds TSB, as well as the AA and Royal & Sun Alliance, to sell six or 12-month warranties to motorists who buy privately by replying to advertisements. It is estimated 4 million second-hand cars are sold privately each year.

Maiden, the outdoor advertising group, rose 16.5p top 299p on NatWest Securities support.