Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Investors Defy Rate Fears to Pile into Top Stocks; Market Round-Up

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Investors Defy Rate Fears to Pile into Top Stocks; Market Round-Up

Article excerpt

CITY traders had little time to discuss anything but interest rates today, with most assuming that borrowing levels of 6% are a nearcertainty this summer.

In theory, this should have led to a lacklustre morning as investors waited nervously for the midday decision by the Bank of England's monetary policy committee on whether to continue the upward move.

But investors piled into top stocks as trading opened after two days of falls, hoovering up shares in Vodafone, ahead 50p at 160.1p, BHP Billiton, up 29p at 1292p, and Compass, putting on 5 1/2p at 366 3/4p, among others.

The FTSE 100 rose 47.6 to 6570.3.

Royal Bank of Scotland gained 7p to 652p. Not everyone wants it to win its bid battle with Barclays for ABN Amro but most have begun to see it as inevitable.

Despite the rate worries, Sir David Howard, chairman of broker Charles Stanley, reckons privateclient stockbrokers are set for another good year.

"World stock markets have performed strongly," he said. "Some reaction is possible but the underlying trend remains well-supported and I expect markets to continue to offer clients good returns." Stanley profits jumped 20% to [pounds sterling]15.6 million in the year to end- March on revenues 6% higher at [pounds sterling]98.2 million. Funds under management rose 9% to [pounds sterling]10.6 billion.

The shares were flat at 381 3/4p.

Newcastle United edged up 1/2p to 97 1/2p after revealing it had offloaded Scott Parker, a midfielder of questionable talent, to West Ham for [pounds sterling]6.5 million. The club last night agreed to a [pounds sterling]133 million takeover bid by entrepreneur Mike Ashley.

Sports Direct International, Ashley's recently floated empire, could be threatened by the football deal if rival fans decide to shun the shops. It was greeted as good news today, however, the shares gaining 3p to 201p.

Engineer FKI confirmed it is in "active discussions" with several unnamed bidders about a sale of the business, as it reported profits for the year to March of [pounds sterling]65 million roughly in line with market expectations. …

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