Sterling performance by pound leaves Footsie wilting

MARKET REPORT

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
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back