We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Market Report: Reprieve for struggling pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond


Albemarle & Bond was granted a brief reprieve yesterday as soaring gold prices and deal rumours helped the struggling pawnbroker book its biggest gains in more than a month.

The company’s share price collapsed after it called off attempts to sell itself last month due to lack of interest. At the time management admitted that shares had “limited value”.

Yesterday it climbed 3.87p to 10.37p, as gold soared to a six-month high. Traders are also taken with the rumour that Wall Street’s Fortress Investment Group is eyeing a deal to take control of Albemarle, although the company has played down speculation.

Other beneficiaries of the gold rally were miners of the stuff. Fresnillo was up 26p at 925.5p, Randgold Resources added 39p to 4,996p and African Barrick Gold closed 0.9p better off at 259.25p.

These were among the few winners with weak sentiment ahead of tomorrow’s referendum on Crimea’s status. Steve Ruffley, chief market strategist at InterTrader, said: “There seems to be quite an air of inevitability between Russia and the USA that ‘nothing good will happen’ over the Crimea. The fear of imposed sanctions and worse led the world markets to drop.”

The uncertainty pushed the FTSE 100 to a five-week low, closing down 25.89 points at 6,527.89.

Engineer IMI managed to make gains, up 39p to 1,456p, after a note from Société Générale throwing its weight behind new chief executive Mark Selway.

The team behind Early Learning Centre could be considering a management buyout from parent group Mothercare, if rumours are to be believed. Mothercare was off 2.25p at 231p.

Many in the City were left scratching their heads as Mecca Bingo owner Rank Group hit a near-month high, up 10.5p to 144p. Could a deal be in the works?

On AIM, Leyshon Resources jumped 0.35p to 1.1p after a bullish strategy update. The Chinese-focused firm is in talks over potential acquisitions.

It was put up or shut up time for the Ruia family, as the deadline for an improved offer for Essar Energy loomed. The City turned its nose up at the initial 70p-a-share bid. Essar was flat at 66.55p.