Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'[Pounds Sterling]500m Sell-Off ' Puts Skids under Footsie

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'[Pounds Sterling]500m Sell-Off ' Puts Skids under Footsie

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

EARLY gains were wiped out in London today as share prices slammed into reverse amid talk that the marketplace had been hit by a massive computerised sell programme.

One leading institution is believed to be taking a bearish view of short-term prospects for the equity market amid further signs of a slowdown in the US economy, and has begun liquidating part of its equity portfolio.

Some traders say the sale could have been as much as [pounds sterling]500 million. Whatever its size, it was inevitable that, in such thin trading conditions, it would have an adverse effect on the rest of the market. The FTSE 100 index, which had sported an early rise of 24 points, made an about-turn and was left nursing a loss of 27.7 at 5887.5.

Shades of the black horse. City speculators were getting themselves worked-up into a lather over revived talk that Lloyds TSB, the UK's fifthbiggest High Street bank, may soon be targeted by an overseas rival. The names of Bank of America and Wells Fargo are again being put forward.

Nothing new there, then. Perhaps that is why the bank, famed for its black horse logo, soon ran out of steam.

Having touched 5301/2p, the price saw its lead pared back to just 4p at 526p.

Apart from the usual burst of takeover talk every few weeks, investors are also keen to buy Lloyds because the shares yield 6.5%.

National Grid fell 51/2p to 6291/2p despite US broker Morgan Stanley resuming coverage of the shares with an overweight recommendation and 695p target. It described the company as the cheapest of the regulated utilities and said 3G rollout as well as new technology developments meant the wireless division should keep growing at a strong rate in the near future."

New boss Steve Holliday takes over running National Grid at year end.

Vodafone firmed 1/2p to 1101/2p as new chairman Sir John Bond continues to put his money where his mouth is. He has bought a further 90,000 shares at 1101/2p, taking his total holding in the company to 207,620 shares, or less than 1% of the company. …

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