Market Report: Return of Qatar bid rumours boost Centrica

Not for the first time, market gossips had Centrica in their sights last night as the owner of British Gas powered up following the re-emergence of speculation that it could be about to receive an offer.

A potential bid from Qatar was once again the focus of the chatter, with one vague tale suggesting the state-owned Qatargas may team up with Iberdrola for a joint attempt. The Spanish utility – another name often linked to Centrica – has recently had dealings with Qatar, having agreed in March to sell a 6.16 per cent stake to Qatar Holdings, a division of the country's sovereign-wealth fund.

With a potential price being discussed of between 450p and 480p a share, Centrica initially surged as high as 316.3p. However, with traders dismissive of the rumours, by the end of the session it had tracked back to 311.7p, an overall rise of 3p. As a result, it remained lower than at the start of the week, having dropped by nearly 4 per cent on Monday after its interim management statement.

The utility was not the only group returning to the bid spotlight, with reheated gossip that AstraZeneca – up by 2.5p to 3,142.5p – could be interested in Shire, pushing the drugs group forward 43p to 1,922p, an all-time high.

Meanwhile, the continued presence of takeover speculation, which re-emerged earlier in the week, helped Burberry to end up in the gold-medal position, as it was lifted 36p to 1,365p. Market voices also pointed to strong sales figures from its French peer, Hermès, as helping, while Credit Suisse expressed its support for the luxury sector.

On the FTSE 250, Cable & Wireless Worldwide was another subject of vague chatter, as persistent whispers of a possible bid – with AT&T once again mentioned – left the telecoms group 1.2p higher at 51.9p.

Overall, the FTSE 100 slipped back 42.89 points to 5,976 as the Bank of England cut its growth expectations for the year to 1.75 per cent from 2 per cent. A number of weak miners contributed to the top-tier index's fall, including Fresnillo which dipped by 60p to 1,411p.

The wooden spoon was taken by ITV, pegged back 4p to 71.9p by the broadcaster predicting it would report year-on-year falls in advertising sales in both May and June.

Prudential was another group releasing figures, and the bank retreated 5p to 765p despite its new business profit for the first quarter beating expectations. Both Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland were also in the red, moving down 0.04p to 54.54p and 0.14p to 42.42p respectively, while HSBC eased back 10.1p to 646.1p after its chief executive Stuart Gulliver revealed his new direction for the company. Reed Elsevier advanced 10p to 559.5p on the read-across from the Dutch group Wolters Kluwer, which said it was seeing improvements in both the UK and European markets. Reed also benefited from a positive reaction to its investors day earlier in the week, with UBS praising a "confident presentation" on its risk-solutions division as the broker reiterated its "buy" recommendation.

Arm Holdings edged forwards 4.5p to 597.5p after Morgan Stanley examined recent reports that Apple could use the Cambridge-based group's technology in some of its products, replacing Intel. Although the broker's analysts said they "draw no conclusions, given [the] lack of confirmation", they did add there were "several elements that suggest such a change is possible" and kept their "overweight" stance on the chip maker.

Bargain hunters helped Pace to bounce up 5p to 98p on the mid-tier index after it plummeted by nearly 40 per cent on Tuesday following a profit warning. Investors may have given the set-top box manufacturer's share price some respite, but the analysts were nowhere near as generous with JP Morgan Cazenove and Royal Bank of Scotland among those cutting its price target.

Altium's Arun George did the same, and although he said the "prospect of a bid is now the key rallying call for the bulls", he added that "in the context of a management team low on credibility and a track record of poor City communication, we believe the current rating is appropriate".

Elsewhere, Bwin.party enjoyed a rise of 2p to 151p following the European Commission's decision on Tuesday to approve online gambling legislation proposed by the German state Schleswig-Holstein. Evolution Securities' James Hollins said it was "welcome news for the key German operators", but – noting that proposed strict legislation could come in across the country next year – the analyst kept his "neutral" advice on the group.

A profit warning from RAB Capital, coupled with an admission that it is considering delisting after the departure of a significant number of clients, meant the hedge fund plummeted by nearly 25 per cent on the Alternative Investment Market, sliding by 2.5p to 7.75p.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence