Hopes of brisk trade during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and poker demand in New Jersey made Bwin.Party a good bet in the City yesterday.
Punters placed their bets as the online bookies revealed a good trading update and said its New Jersey business launch was "successful".
Analysts also backed it as a winner with Canaccord Genuity noting that some US blog sites have suggested that Bwin has "grabbed as much as 50 per cent of the fledgling market". The group, whose chairman Simon Duffy is stepping down at next year's annual meeting, soared 9.7p to 125.4p – top riser on the mid-tier table.
Investec's scribblers preferred bookie William Hill, up 4.6p at 375.6p, and said it "offers standout value in the sector" because it is "trading at a sector discount despite its robust expected retail cash generation, has a leading position in UK and Australian online, and high growth prospects in Italy and Spain".
The wider market was fixated on whether the Federal Reserve will begin to taper its asset purchase QE scheme. The news was due after the markets closed and with most traders on the fence and the FTSE 100 edged up just 5.89 to 6492.08.
British Gas owner Centrica was popular after it said it would extend its share buy-back scheme and it powered ahead 5.6p to 328.7p. But retailers were out of favour amid falling market share and pressure on margins. UBS downgraded Marks & Spencer to neutral and it lost 10.8p to 441.5p. Department stores group Debenhams also fell 3.55p to 78.45p as UBS cut its target price to 100p.
Supermarkets continued to fall after data revealed weakening market share for the big four grocers on Tuesday. Sainsbury's slid back 13.5p to 365.1p, Tesco lost 5.45p to 319.05p and Morrison declined 3.5p to 253.2p.
The mid-cap oil and gas explorer Ophir Energy announced a deal in Gabon and gushed 14.7p higher to 320.7p.
Small-cap electrical retailer Darty was one of the few retailers on the rise and it collected 3.5p to 105p after its half-year results revealed the sale of its Turkish business.