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Market Report: Rumours of the Ruia family returning to the table lifts Essar Energy

The Ruia family's failed attempt to take Essar Energy private last month raised eyebrows in the City but it looks like they could be gearing up for another run at it.

The original lowball approach for the 22 per cent of the Indian oil refiner not already owned by the billionaire family was also roundly criticised by minority shareholders, who said it "clearly undervalued" the company. But whispers suggest the Ruias could be close to tabling a second offer on more favourable terms. The chatter sent Essar up 7.85p to 75p.

Merrill Lynch was upbeat on UK equities yesterday, claiming that of British companies that have reported fourth-quarter results so far, 63 per cent have beaten expectations. Aviva, up 37.9p at 504.5p, Schroders, 137p higher at 2,727p, and Aggreko, up 55p to 1,628p, underlined the findings with strong numbers.

Glencore Xstrata was also on the move after Credit Suisse advised investors to pile in, claiming the commodities giant is "more of a growth story" than others in the sector. It dug up 7.75p to 339.95p.

But the FTSE 100 could only manage a modest rise, up 13.07 points to 6,788.49.

Progress wasn't helped by the engineer IMI, whose shares tumbled 67p to 1,481p after warning of lower margins in the first half of 2014 and a looming blow to earnings from the strengthening pound.

On the mid-cap index, a contract win in Mozambique worth an estimated $150m (£90m) helped the mid-cap oil and gas services specialist Kentz add 18p to 768.5p.

Balfour Beatty, down 23.8p at 297.6p, was bottom of the table as the Olympic builder revealed a 78 per cent plunge in pre-tax profit.

The microchip maker Imagination Technologies, down 8.6p to 180p, was also in trouble, after revealing that shipments were "behind expectations" .

The photo booth and launderette operator Photo-Me, 8p higher at 148p, was boosted by a trading update that said profitability in the last quarter was 80 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The property company Shaftesbury, down 21p to 629p, raised £156.6m in a placing, equivalent to 10 per cent of total share capital, to finance a major deal in London's Chinatown.