Market Report: Takeover rumours put a shine on Reckitt Benckiser

The blue-chip index may have slumped heavily for the second consecutive session, but that was not enough to stop the rumour-mill turning yesterday. Reckitt Benckiser was swept to the top of the leaderboard as vague rumours of an imminent break-up bid were dusted off once again.

The maker of such household favourites as Cillit Bang, Vanish and Nurofen rose 57p to 3,255p amid reheated speculation suggesting the US titans Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble could both be considering a possible approach.

The tale, which claimed an offer may be priced between 4,500p and 5,000p a share, helped Reckitt advance for the first time since its third-quarter results last week, when it warned it would see a slowdown in growth over the last quarter of the year.

Traders were taking the mutterings with a huge pinch of salt, however, noting its familiarity. Instead, they put the company's advance down to its defensive appeal, pointing out that it often moves the opposite way to the wider market.

There was similar scepticism to wild whispers that Marks & Spencer may be in line for a 550p a pop bid from the Chinese retailer Shanghai Bailian Group. It was certainly not enough to prevent the high street institution from being pegged back 9.9p to 312p as HSBC's Paul Rossington cut his forecasts ahead of the release of its interim results next Tuesday.

There was no fresh start to the new month for the FTSE 100, and the Square Mile was blaming one man - George Papandreou. The Greek prime minister's decision to announce a referendum on the eurozone rescue package left traders seething as the top-chip index plummeted 122.65 points to 5,421.57, meaning last week's gains of over 6 per cent have now been almost wiped out in just two sessions.

The fall came despite encouraging GDP figures, with any optimism created cancelled out by the announcement that the manufacturing sector contracted in October at its fastest rate for more than two-years.

Barclays continued to dive after its third-quarter results on Monday, slipping back 18.55p – or 9.5 per cent – to 176.75p after UBS's John-Paul Crutchley downgraded his advice to "neutral".

Its peers were almost as badly hit, with Royal Bank of Scotland jumping down 1.95p to 22.28p ahead of its update later in the week. The wider financial sector was also full of red, as insurer Legal & General retreated 7.9p to 102.6p while the world's largest listed hedge fund Man Group was driven back 9.27 per cent to 136p – close to a nine-year low. Sensitive as always to the economic health of China, the miners dipped following worrying manufacturing data from the country. Kazakhmys and Xstrata declined 66p to 861.5p and 69.4p to 976.1p respectively as analysts from Citigroup warned the sector was "facing a perfect storm" of falling commodity prices and rising costs.

The prospect of winning big in Las Vegas saw punters take a flutter on bwin.party. The online gaming group was by far the top FTSE 250 riser after it unveiled a joint venture with Sin City big shots MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming, which will see the three start a new internet poker company if and when online gaming is legalised in the US.

Evolution Securities' James Hollins praised the move, saying it could "drive massive potential revenue upside". In response the group shot up 13.6p, or 12.4 per cent, to 123.3p, helped by its small-cap peer 888 (2.25p higher at 35.25p) announcing a 42 per cent jump in its third-quarter revenues.

Also among the stocks on the mid-tier index managing to rise was Devro, as the sausage skin maker bumped up 8p to 254p. City voices said the fact that bangers were such a staple meant the group was benefiting from being seen as a strong defensive option.

The bid potential of Logica took a knock, despite the IT outsourcer frequently being the subject of takeover chatter. It slid back 4.4p to 89.5p after Canaccord Genuity's analysts said they questioned "the attractiveness of the group in a merger and acquisition environment", while they also cut their recommendation to "sell", claiming Logica was "poorly positioned in a number of ways".

Soco International disappointed investors by admitting that a jump in production at its Vietnamese Te Giac Trang field would now not be achieved until next year, leaving the oil explorer 11.3p worse off at 318.9p.

The announcement that it had started drilling at its NK-9 well in Kazakhstan prompted Roxi Petroleum to spurt up more than 70 per cent in early trading, and although the Alternative Investment Market-listed oil group ended up being pegged back slightly, it still closed 1p, or 34.78 per cent, stronger at 3.88p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders