Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scottish Widows Places Faith in Footsie's Revival; Market Report

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scottish Widows Places Faith in Footsie's Revival; Market Report

Article excerpt

Byline: MALCOLM WITHERS

EVIDENCE of the astute, piecemeal selling of this month was released today by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which manages [pounds sterling]70 billion of assets.

It said it has reduced its overweight equity position across funds but remains underweight in US stocks and overweight in UK equities. The fund manager clearly has some confidence in the current upward march of the London market as it expects the Footsie to hit 4575 on a 12-month horizon.

The FTSE 100 index rallied from yesterday's 70-point decline with a 28.7-point rise to 4160.2. The doublewitching expiry of options passed with the blue-chip index trading within a tight 14-point range at that time.

Markets had clearly learned the lesson of last September's wild swings of 6% in both directions.

Some 2.2 billion shares changed hands, though the FTSE 250 and SmallCap indices remained weak.

The recovery was spread over several sectors, ranging from business support group Rexam - top blue-chip riser with a 153/4p gain to 3821/2p - through to fashion retailer Next, ahead 281/2p at 1016p, and oil giant Shell, up 41/2p to 4153/4p.

Majestic Wine chairman John Apthorp has sold 2.5 million shares in the business he founded 12 years ago for [pounds sterling]14.25 million.

Teather & Greenwood placed the stock with institutions at 570p, cutting the stake held by Apthorp and his family to 41.1%.

The sale marks the first time Apthorp has cut his holding since Majestic's float in 1996.

He insisted the move was designed to increase liquidity in the shares and that he remained fully committed to the business.

Majestic's shares rose 71/2p to 6271/2p.

Merrill Lynch still rates Unilever a buy ahead of figures next month and the shares rallied 101/2p to 556p. Alliance UniChem edged ahead 6p to 506p as the same broker upped its target price to 580p. …

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