Market Report: Hammerson flies high as French fancy delights City

Ooh la la. News of a tasty deal across the Channel left Hammerson at the summit of the top-tier index last night. The property developer reached its highest level for more than four months following the decision by Simon Property to fork out a major premium to buy nearly 29 per cent of Hammerson's Paris-based peer Klepierre.

The sale means French banking giant BNP Paribas will receive €1.52bn, or €28-a-share, for the stake – a 20 per cent premium to Kleppiere's share price. The move gave a serious boost to sentiment around the sector, especially with regards to property in Continental Europe. Hammerson – which recently announced it was focusing on its retail sites in France and the UK – shot up 21.3p to 411.3p.

Some in the Square Mile were also claiming the deal highlighted the wide discount between the group's share price and the value of its assets.

Hammerson's blue-chip rival Capital Shopping Centres, meanwhile, advanced 9p to 338.4p. The operator of the Trafford Centre in Manchester last year managed to fend off a takeover approach from Simon Property, which still holds a 4 per cent stake.

Overall, rising optimism ahead of last night's deadline for the Greek bond swap deal meant that by the bell the FTSE 100 had jumped 68.32 points to 5,859.73, almost regaining the level it was before the sell-off on Tuesday that saw it lose over 100 points.

The rally was also fuelled by the return of talk suggesting China could be about to cut its reserve ratio again, which gave the heavyweight diggers a major push as Vedanta Resources shifted up 49p to 1,393p while Antofagasta closed 38p higher at 1,268p.

With such a move likely to boost the country's economy, Burberry rose 71p to 1,508p after the upmarket retailer was helped earlier in the week by reports claiming the Chinese government may slash import duty on luxury goods.

As well as Apple revealing its newest iPad late on Wednesday, Arm Holdings – which pushed up 19.5p to 569p – was also attracting buyers thanks to a positive note from Morgan Stanley. Analysts from the broker raised their rating to "overweight", noting that although historically the chip designer's forecasts have been considered too optimistic, they have actually turned out to be overly pessimistic.

At the same time, fellow Apple supplier Imagination Technologies climbed 50.5p to 652p on the mid-tier index, an all-time high, after announcing that the strong momentum it enjoyed during the first-half had continued.

Back on the Footsie, the bid spotlight returned to Shire as revived takeover speculation saw the drugs maker tick up 30p to 2,205. Pfizer was yet again suggested as a possible bidder following reports that Germany's Bayer may try and buy the US pharma giant's veterinary unit, leading to theories over what it could do with the cash from a disposal.

Bid talk was also returning around Enquest, which spurted up 5p to 125.8p on the FTSE 250 as vague speculation claimed the North Sea explorer could become a takeover target. Shell (29p better off at 2,306.5p) was one of the names put forward as a potential bidder, although the idea was being widely played down.

Elsewhere among the oil groups, Heritage Oil closed 9.2p stronger at 168.8p after the oil group started drilling at its Miran East prospect in the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan.

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but SuperGroup found itself in vogue yesterday. The fashion retailer powered up 46.5p to 568.5p after Oriel Securities' analysts claimed its share price did "not reflect the potential for the brand to grow rapidly over the next five years".

Takeover hopes around Inmarsat took a knock after the chief financial officer of Eads said it was not interested in an approach. The European aerospace giant has been highlighted recently as a possible suitor for the satellite telecoms firm, which still managed to fly up 28.4p to 489.7p in the wake of a bullish "buy" note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Wednesday.

Soft drinks maker Nichols was left rather flat on AIM despite beating analysts' forecasts by posting a full-year pre-tax profit of 18.1m. The group, whose fizzy pop products include Vimto and Sunkist, could only edge up 3.75p to 629.75p even though Shore Capital's Phil Carroll said he did "not discount the possibility of Nichols being an acquisition target in the medium-term".

Bowleven, a favourite of the retail investors, soared up 12p – or 14.12 per cent – to 97p following the return of vague speculation it could in line for an approach. Tullow Oil (15p higher at 1,460p) was once more suggested by some as a possible suitor, although informed City voices were pouring cold water on the idea.

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