Sterling performance by pound leaves Footsie wilting


It was as if the fates conspired to ensure the stock market started the Christmas month in a decidedly miserable mood.

Fears of another base rate increase, underlined by Abbey National's move, an even more rampant sterling and a dull New York display were just three of the inhibiting influences.

The Racal Electronics debacle, real and rumoured profit downgradings and a temptation to lock in some profits also gnawed at shares.

Footsie, in thin trading, ended 19.5 points lower at 4,038.5 points. Second- and third-liners also wilted.

The Abbey decision unsettled building and related shares as fears grew that higher mortgage rates could choke off the still hesitant housing revival. But Abbey revelled in the change, gaining 12.5p to 709p, a high.

Glaxo Wellcome was one under the whip of rumoured forecast cuts.

There was talk a leading US securities house had decided the shares were too high and deserved to be nearer 800p. It was enough to clip the price 8.5p to 970p.

Hanson, now moving into the final throes of its painful demerger, fell 2.5p to 77.5p as NatWest Securities stuck an 81p valuation on what remains of the once powerful conglomerate.

The reduction stemmed in part from lower values for building material shares here and in the US.

Storehouse found yet a new 12-month low as the Barclays de Zoete Wedd sell advice continued to weigh heavily. But NatWest remains bullish. It believes the growth of overseas franchise operations has been overlooked. The shares fell 5p to 256.5p. Burton gained 2.25p to 151p with MeesPierson suggesting an 180p target. Racal fused 50p to 222p and Berisford International, the kitchens and bathrooms group, tumbled 9p to 135p with the mystery bidder backing away. Courtaulds slipped 3p to 397p as the chemical group's Footsie place looked increasingly vulnerable. Pilkington, another likely Footsie casualty, managed a 3.5p gain to 152p, on hopes of lower German interest rates.

Scottish & Newcastle, the brewing group, was the best performing blue chip, gaining 22p to 661p as interim figures came in ahead of most expectations. Bass, year's figures tomorrow, rose 10.5p to 794p.

Utilities threw off the lethargy as takeover hopes flickered again. London Electricity rose 11.5p to 657.5p and Yorkshire 5.5p to 764p. There were also ripples in the water sector with Severn Trent up 6.5p to 660.5p.

Semple Cochrane, an engineering services group, could have chosen a better day to make its debut. In the event it still managed a healthy premium, closing at 218.5p from a 180p placing.

On Demand Information, an electronic publisher, managed an 8p gain to 47.5p as the company said it knew of no reason for the share price decline. The shares were around 140p two months ago. Verson International, an engineer, which announced a near pounds 5.8m loss late on Friday, fell 2.5p to 14p. Clubpartners International, a golf group, bunkered itself, falling 6p to 13.5p after disclosing it had received take-over bids at below the market price. The shares were 33p in the summer.

Wiggins, the property group, fell 0.75p to 7.25p. Chief executive Oliver Iny has made peace with his creditors over guarantees he gave over a failed property company which should remove fears he may be forced to dump shares. Wiggins intends to announce its interim figures soon.

SR Gent, the Marks & Spencer clothing supplier, jumped 8p to 64.5p. The hard-pressed group disclosed it was in bid talks in October. The sudden flurry, with one deal of 25,000 shares going through at 67p just before the market closed, could indicate a deal has been sewn up.

It is understodd that more than possible buyer has been talking to the company which had to make a pounds 14m write off on the closure of its Clothing Barn retailing chain. The failure, the group's second retailing disaster, forced it into crisis talks with its bankers.

In the past year Gent's shares have been as high as 94p. They were floated through a tender off in 1984 - the strike price was 184p. Lamont, another textile group which has found the going tough, was 2.5p higher at 186.5p on vague talk of a Dutch bid. The shares have come down from 324p in the summer.

Kenwood Appliances, the kitchen equipment group, is another where a bidder hovers. The shares jumped 13.5p to 233.5p with Pifco said to be the most likely bidder.

Taking Stock

o H Young, distributing such lines as Head sports clothes and Magic Tree air fresheners, is adding cycle parts. It is paying pounds 6.86m for Madison, which sells cycle accessories.

As part of the deal, Young is raising pounds 5.78m through a placing and an open offer on a one-for-three ratio at 116p. Young's profits last year were up 30 per cent at pounds 2.6m and the enlarged group could hit pounds 4m this year. The shares fell 6.5p to 125p.

o Red faces at Ellis & Co. The stockbroker distributed four copies of a draft note on Corporate Executive Search, saying the company had achieved half-year turnover of pounds 1.23m.

But CES accounts have still to be finalised and Ellis has asked that the "rogue notes" should be disregarded.

CES shares held at 4.5p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss