Market Report: Sports Direct's rise makes it ripe for a fall - but when?

Sports Direct's stratospheric rise since going public makes it ripe for a fall, but Merrill Lynch doesn't think that will happen any time soon.

The broker reckons that online sales and expansion into Europe will help the discount sports retailer to grow at a compound rate of 7 per cent over the next 10 years. Merrill raised its price target and earnings forecast, ahead of a trading statement next week.

Investors were more than willing to pile into Sports Direct after a recent dip in price, caused by founder Mike Ashley cashing a £200m stake.

The retailer was the day's best performer, adding 42p to 787.5p, but that's still well below the 922p high it managed to reach less than two weeks ago.

British Airways' owner, IAG, was boosted by a note from HSBC. The bank thinks the recent pull-back in price makes it a good time to buy into this solid performer. Investors agreed and IAG rose 19p to 395.2p.

Positive UK unemployment figures and better-than-expected GDP data in China saw the FTSE 100 close up 42.56 points at 6,584.17.

Help to Buy is still boosting Persimmon, with the housebuilder announcing yesterday that it had sold 5,000 properties under the government scheme. Persimmon added 10p to 1,275p.

Two other operators in the property sector are busy cashing in on London's booming housing market. Landlord Grainger, 5.9p ahead at 222.4p, snapped up 61 homes in Kensington and Chelsea for £160m, while Telford Homes, 4p better at 341p, forecast a cumulative pre-tax profit of £120m over the next four years thanks to the capital's dizzying market.

The insurer Lancashire Holdings trailed the mid-cap index, down 37.5p at 664.5p, after revealing that its chief executive and founder, Richard Brindle, is leaving at the end of the month.

The digital voucher company Eagle Eye made a solid debut on Aim. The company climbed to 180p after floating at 164p.

Snoozebox, the portable hotel group which provides temporary rooms for the likes of Silverstone and Glastonbury, tumbled 1.37p to 10.12p after revealing widening losses to £9.4m from £4.2m a year earlier.

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