Market Report: Aviva tops Footsie on sell-off hopes

Apparently the bosses at Aviva have been trying to dampen down expectations ahead of Thursday's investor meeting. If so, punters were not in the mood to listen yesterday as they pushed the insurer to the top of the benchmark index.

The market is certainly eager to find out what chairman John McFarlane – who is in charge until a permanent replacement is found for former boss Andrew Moss – will say when he unveils the results of the company's strategic review.

With reports claiming Aviva may exit more than a quarter of its 58 businesses, the group shot up 10.1p to 282.7p.

Yet not everyone was getting carried away. Panmure Gordon's Barrie Cornes tried to be a voice of calm, with the analyst cautioning that, despite high expectations, he did not believe there would be "any ground-breaking announcements".

Many think its US division could be one of Aviva's parts to be shown the door. However, Mr Cornes cautioned against such a move, warning that he was "unconvinced … selling an asset into a market where we understand there are few if any buyers is a clever thing to do".

Still, he did try to calm the fears of those worried the company's dividend could be cut, pointing out that Mr McFarlane has played down the size of the cost savings.

The insurers were given a boost by Morgan Stanley's scribes upgrading their advice to "overweight" on the sector.

However, this didn't stop Admiral – whose share price has added nearly 15 per cent duringJune – taking the Footsie's wooden spoon by falling 23p to 1,169p.

The FTSE 100 continued to push up after last week's EU summit, advancing 69.49 points to 5,640.64, amid rising optimism that stimulus measures could be on their way.

In early trading, pharma group Shire was badly hit by the news that AstraZeneca had contributed $3.4bn (£2.2bn) to US peer Bristol-Myers Squibb's takeover of biotech firm Amylin. With Astra, up 29p to 2,882p, often suggested as a possible bidder for rumour mill favourite Shire, the fact it was splashing the cash elsewhere dampened such takeover hopes.

Vague speculation was also doing the rounds that, following the recent blow of a rival to its blockbuster drug Adderall XR being approved in the US, a generic version of Intuniv – another of Shire's ADHD products – could also be about to get tentative approval in the States. However, by the bell it had recovered to finish 9p higher at 1,841p.

Elsewhere, Barclays was lifted 5.55p to 168.4p, its first rise since the Libor scandal hit last week. At least the bank's embattled boss, Bob Diamond, has a friend in Ian Gordon – "Back Bob!" was the cry from the Investec analyst.

The prospect of an audience with Billie Jean King, pictured, was clearly not exciting too many as Smith & Nephew could only creep up 1.5p to 639p. The tennis legend has had two knee implants from the medical devices group, and is speaking at a seminar today – designed to tie-in with Wimbledon – about her experiences.

Down on the FTSE 250, there was no chance of the market giving Avocet Mining a break following Friday's profits warning. Then, the gold digger dropped 40 per cent and yesterday it slumped another 12.95p to 77.1p as brokers rushed to remove their "buy" advice.

Soco's decision to buy out Lizeroux Oil & Gas' 20 per cent stake in its Vietnamese unit was getting a standing ovation.

The oil explorer spurted up 20p to 309.4p as Numis' Sanjeev Bahl repeated his belief that its "concentrated Vietnamese resource base may be of interest to a strategic buyer", although he played down the likelihood of this in the short-term.

Meanwhile, Cable & Wireless Worldwide edged back 0.04p to 37.86p amid talk that its takeover by mobile phone giant Vodafone (0.15p stronger at 179.4p) could soon get the green light from EU regulators.

Halfords, meanwhile, was pegged back 5.4p to 223.8p as Panmure Gordon's Philip Dorgan removed his "buy" rating, saying the bicycles retailer would "be one of the losers from the Jubilee trading period and recent poor weather patterns."

Down on Aim, penny stocks Aminex and Solo Oil puffed up 0.28p to 4.55p and 0.04p to 0.52p after a positive independent evaluation of the explorers' gas projects in Tanzania.

FTSE 100 Risers

WPP 796p (up 23p, 2.98 per cent) Sir Martin Sorrell's advertising giant advances after announcing that it has agreed to buy the South Korean media planning and buying agency Alchemedia.

GlaxoSmithKline 1,472p (up 25p, 1.73 per cent) Pharmaceuticals giant rises following the news that it has settled a healthcare fraud case in the US by paying fines totalling $3bn.

FTSE 100 Fallers

Evraz 258.5p (down 2.2p, 0.84 per cent) Following a big rise at the end of last week, Roman Abramovich-backed steelmaker slides as Société Gé*érale cuts its target price to 253p from 378p.

Pearson 1,262p (down 4p, 0.32 per cent) Investors in publishing company decide it is time to bank some profits after watching its share price add more than 11 per cent last month.

FTSE 250 Risers

Imagination Technologies 496.6p (up 30p, 6.43 per cent) Although chip designer finishes the session near the summit of the mid-tier index, its share price has still lost more than 30 per cent since April.

Shanks 80p (up 3.65p, 4.78 per cent) Waste management company advances as it announces the appointment of Toby Woolrych as its new finance director, who will start the role near the end of August.

FTSE 250 Fallers

Ocado 75p (down 2.7p, 3.47 per cent) Still no let-up for the online grocer, whose share price has now dropped by almost a third since the release last week of its interim results.

Catlin 422p (down 3.5p, 0.82 per cent) Insurance group is knocked back by the scribblers at Jefferies announcing they have downgraded their recommendation to "hold" from "buy".

News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Life & Style
techHow a 'grey brick' took over the world of portable gaming
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

VIDEO
News
Coren Mitchell, who is the daughter of the late broadcaster Alan Coren and is married to comedian David Mitchell, produced a hand to make poker history at the 98th EPT main event.
peopleJournalist and TV presenter becomes first ever two-time winner of the European Poker Tour
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Computer Science)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...

C#.NET Delphi SQL Developer (C#,DELPHI,SQL)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...

VB.NET SQL Junior-Mid Level Developer (VB.NET,SQL,Excellent com

£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...

Trade Support, Application Support, Operations Analyst, CRM MS

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players