Market Report: City fans power Aggreko to top spot on the Footsie

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The Independent Online

It will be powering the Olympics next year, but last night it was Aggreko which ended up with the gold medal. The temporary power supplier finished in pole position on the blue-chip index, moving up 122p to 1,970p, as voices in the Square Mile queued up to lend their support. One of the cheerleaders for the group, which raised its profit forecasts earlier in the week, was Guardian Stockbrokers' Atif Latif who predicted further upgrades ahead. Aggreko's focus may be on London over the coming months, but he picked out the Middle East and North Africa as being particularly exciting.

Investors have been wary of stocks exposed to the region following the recent unrest, but Mr Latif played down these concerns, saying it was "a significant area for future growth that may not as yet be appreciated by the market".

He was by no means Aggreko's only fan. The analysts at Citigroup continued to tell punters to pile into the stock and claimed it would keep benefiting from the gap between demand and supply for power in emerging markets.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs reiterated Aggreko's place on the broker's "conviction buy" list, highlighting the fact that it is five times larger than its nearest rival.

For the few traders left at their desks, there was finally some economic news from the eurozone they could cheer. A successful Spanish bond auction, which saw greater demand than predicted, was accompanied by expectation-beating business confidence figures form Germany.

It helped the FTSE 100 to find some positive momentum after two consecutive sessions of falls. The benchmark index was lifted 54.61 points to 5,419.6, mirroring rises on Wall Street, which was buoyant following housing starts in the US rising to an 18-month high.

It did no good for the drugs makers, however. AstraZeneca declined 44p to 2,905p after admitting not only had two of its products not performed in trials as hoped but that the failures would cost it £242.3m.

Coincidentally, its European peers Novartis and Sanofi also announced they had both been hit by setbacks to drugs, and this did not help GlaxoSmithKline as it retreated 5p to 1,445p.

Burberry was attracting admiring glances, ticking up 17p to 1,168 as it entered into talks with perfume maker Inter Parfums over their licensing deal that could see the luxury brand buy back the license.

Elsewhere on the Footsie, Carnival spent the morning ahead in anticipation of its fourth-quarter figures. However, when the numbers were released mid-afternoon the cruise company sank on signs that booking prices are falling, and eventually closed 6p lower at 2,130p.

Down on the FTSE 250, Moneysupermarket.com was driven up 4.55p to 101.8p amid the revival of vague speculation that private equity could be interested in a potential move for the price comparison website. It's an idea that has been suggested before – and in 2008 the group rebuffed an approach from Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan – but dealers dismissed the latest return.

Elsewhere, there was no let-up for Ocado, as the online grocer's sell-off continued. The group had already lost nearly 17 per cent on Monday following a profits warning, and yesterday it slipped a further 1.8p to 57.4p after Barclays analysts downgraded their advice to "equalweight".

SVG Capital was racing ahead at the opposite end of the mid-tier index, with investors shocked to receive an early Christmas present in the form of a promised cash return worth up to £170m. Pushed up 21.14 per cent to 200p, it also said it planned to diversify away from Permira, the private equity firm which currently accounts for more than four-fifths of its investments.

It was a good day for takeover fans on AIM. Patsystems jumped up 11.22 per cent to 13.62p after the trading technology group announced it had agreed to be taken over by its largest shareholder, ION Group, in a deal worth 14p a share.

Meanwhile, Dhir saw its share price more than double, advancing 21.75p to 37p. The Indian investment group announced its director Alok Dhir had offered 42p a pop for the group, although it said it was considering longer-term strategies as well after its interim results showed a net asset value per share of 74p.

On the fledgling index, the mail order gardening group Flying Brands soared 35.48 per cent to 10.5p. The troubled firm announced it had received numerous approaches for various parts of its operations, although it warned that no concrete offer has as yet been submitted.

After reports last weekend that Exxon has been mulling over a possible bid, Gulf Keystone Petroleum continued to rise. The explorer climbed a further 9.4 per cent to 195p after revealing it had spudded a new well in the region and amid talk it may have won approval to exit its BG Group-led gas project in Algeria.

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