Utilities burn bright in gloom of another grey Friday; MARKET REPORT

Utilities made a valiant attempt to counter another grey Friday mood of confusion and uncertainty.

Such is the nervous state of the stock market following US banking chief Alan Greenspan's cautionary comments that a sharp overnight fall in New York sent shares spinning lower.

But the fall merely underlined the fragility of the market. After more than a year of largely ignoring Wall Street's seemingly relentless progress, shares are now tossing and turning at the slightest sign of a transatlantic correction.

With big profits to be taken on both sides of the Atlantic market-makers are nervous that a selling rush could suddenly materialise. And, consequently, they are quick to mark down prices at the merest hint of any selling pressure.

No doubt noting the alleged unlucky implications of Friday the 13th, market-makers could not resist the temptation to follow New York's example when trading started yesterday.

At one time Footsie was down 56.8 points and all the old worries of corrections and crashes were again uppermost in many minds. But, not for the first time, it was all a big mistake. The Dow Jones Average actually moved ahead and in the scramble to acknowledge the feared reckoning had once again been postponed Footsie had cut its decline to 18.3 points to 3,972.4 by the close.

Utilities rose above such mundane influences as feared corrections, helped by the not unexpected Whitehall clearance of the hostile CE Electric of the US bid for Northern Electricity. Northern, which remains opposed to the pounds 665m offer, jumped 39.5p to 642p compared with the CE offer of 650p.

East Midlands Electricity gained 30p to 656.5p on the belief its agreed offer from the US Dominion Resources will also be given a rare Whitehall green light.

The remaining "unattached" electricities also glowed with London, up 28p at 679.5p, Southern 27p to 774.5p and Yorkshire 13.5p to 756p.

Some of the waters were drawn into the speculation of further utility bids. Anglian rose 9p to 556.5p and United Utilities 4p to 575.5p. South West Water improved 12p to 594.5p.

Orange, the mobile phone group, added another 2.5p to 181p as Barclays de Zoete Wedd hung a 240p target price on the shares following its talks with BT, up 3.5p to 390.5p. The telephone giant is, with a Danish group, planning a move into Switzerland.

Commercial Union found itself back in the takeover arena as a trade of 250,000 shares which went through at 652p resurrected takeover speculation. The deal, above the then market price, clearly put the market on edge and in a late flurry the shares jumped 21p to 665p.

A continental strike remains the favoured option with the German Allianz group never far from the reckoning.

More building society rate increases eroded some of the builders with Barratt Developments off 5.5p to 245p.

Taylor Nelson, the market research group, provided the Friday profit- warning hit. The shares fell 8.25p to 42p after the company said profits would not be up to expectations.

Matthew Clark, the cider group removed from the supporting FTSE 250 index, ended 10.5p down at 260p, a new low.

RJB Mining continued to rally from its savage mauling after the BZW downgrading, adding 27p to 425p

Oxford Biomedica's delayed debut was a withering disaster; against an 88p placing the shares opened at 42.5p, closing at 47.5p. Yeoman, a hi- tech group held back to accommodate late applications fared better but even so failed to even hold its 175p placing, ending at 170.5p.

Clubpartners, a golf group, fell 4p to 7.5p after repeating that any of the circling bidders would offer terms below the market price.

Obscure AND International Publishers achieved the day's biggest gain, up 59 per cent to 185p. A Dutch electronic publisher, it arrived on AIM in August at 70p. Oxford University Press is a substantial shareholder, with around 25 per cent. The shares are a narrow market and there appeared to be only one modest trade.

Lanica Trust, with mail order ambitions, was another high flyer, up 40p to 905p. The shares have climbed from 56p since August.

Zotefoams, the chemical group, held at 212.5p as ABN Amro Hoare Govett said the shares were undervalued. Analyst Nicola Kerslake trimmed her profits forecast by 5 per cent to pounds 6.7m because of sterling's strength and higher spending on marketing. Next year's prediction is pounds 8m. The shares were 339p in March.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable