Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New York Sell-Off Makes It an Uphill Battle for Footsie

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New York Sell-Off Makes It an Uphill Battle for Footsie

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK MARKET ROUND-UP

LEADING shares struggled to make headway today, although investors were pulling out all the stops to prevent the market falling back below the 4000 resistance level.

Another big sell-off in New York overnight was not the most reassuring backdrop to trading, but City dealers managed to keep their heads just above water. The FTSE 100 index rose 3.35 points to 4037.48. Their task was made harder by the large number of Footsie 100 constituents going ex-dividend, which was the equivalent of a 10-point fall.

They included property developer Hammerson, down 203/4p at 3301/2p, fund manager Schroders, 23p lower at 732p, BP, off 73/4p at 4843/4p, power supplier Scottish and Southern Energy, 11p adrift at 1207p, and mining giant Rio Tinto, losing 37p at 1860p.

The banks continued to trade nervously.

Lloyds Banking Group firmed 1.5p to 53p while Barclays shaded 2.6p to 94.1p and Royal Bank of Scotland marked time at 20.7p. HSBC led bluechips higher with a rise of 151/2p to 510p but Standard Chartered dipped 2p to 708p.

Elsewhere in financials, Aviva dipped 31/4p to 3033/4p after Cazenove dropped its rating from outperform to in-line.

Legal & General was off a further 0.8p at 44.5p despite its attempts yesterday to reassure the City about its solvency levels.

Citigroup has raised its rating on Smith & Nephew from hold to buy and jacked up its target from 540p to 618p because it reckons the shares look cheap. The broker says fourth-quarter results from the artificial-joint maker provided reassurance that core business areas have remained relatively immune to economic pressure, and that measures are already in place to control costs in divisions such as endoscopy, which are vulnerable to the economy.

Ridge Mining stood out with a jump of 101/2p to 64p on the back of an allshare offer from Aquarius Platinum, unmoved on 191p. Aquarius will offer one of its own shares for every 2.75 Ridge ones. The deal values Ridge at 69.4p a share, or [pounds sterling]63.8 million.

Carillion shaded 1p to 2251/2p despite winning a [pounds sterling]550 million joint-venture contract for the Al Muneera development in Abu Dhabi. …

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