FTSE edges forward

The FTSE 100 Index edged back towards the key 6000 threshold today as merger and acquisition rumours circulated the markets.

The FTSE 100 Index edged back towards the key 6000 threshold today as merger and acquisition rumours circulated the markets.

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting record highs in New York and European markets also on the front foot, the Footsie benefited from the general cheer to close 29.4 points up at 5966.5.

Topping the leaderboard was Tate & Lyle with a gain of 44p to 767p – or 6% - after Citigroup upped its target to 900p from 800p and said there is still considerable upside.

Mobile phone giant Vodafone was also on the up with a lift of 5p to 127.25p following news of a positive analysts presentation in Italy.

Steel firm Corus lifted 15.25p to 407.5p following speculation of bid interest from an Icelandic company.

And business support services group Brambles Industries added 11.25p to 494.75p on rumours a private equity firm or General Electric are about to pounce.

Meanwhile, BP shares fell by as much as 2% in early trading after it told the market that third quarter production dipped as a result of a shutdown of operations in Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.

But investors shrugged off the news and pressure from weakening oil prices - which fell in London around to 59 US dollars a barrel – to offer BP a 1.5p boost to 570p.

Although it wasn’t such good news for Royal Dutch Shell, which felt the strain with losses of 21p to 1760p.

The fall in oil prices was positive for companies reliant on fuel such as British Airways and cruise firm Carnival. BA shares were up 16p to 450.25p while Carnival steamed ahead 62p to 2606p. Budget airline easyJet also benefited with shares up 15.75p to 490.5p.

Shares in British Energy fell 27.5p to 556p on worries about a UK natural gas supply glut. Drax also slid 31.5p to 797p.

It was another disappointing session for Party Poker giant PartyGaming, where shares fell more than 1% – or half a penny to 40.25p following a crackdown on internet gambling in the US. A newspaper report said the firm will have to negotiate a new loan facility with its banks within 30 days of an anti-gaming bill being approved.

Outside the top flight, IT group Northgate Information Solutions soared 7% - or 6.25p – to 94.25p as it continued to build on yesterday’s gains. Investors jumped on board following speculation a private equity bid could be tabled for the company.

But Italian eatery Carluccio’s found itself in negative territory – down 3.5p to 159p – despite announcing a 24% increase in turnover in the last 12 months and plans to expand the chain.

The day’s biggest blue chip risers were Tate & Lyle up 44p to 767p, Vodafone up 5p to 127.25p, Corus up 15.25p to 407.5p and British Airways up 16p to 450.25p.

The day’s biggest blue chip fallers were Kazakhmys down 55p to 1053p, BHP Billiton down 44p to 870p, British Energy off 27.5p to 556p and Drax down 31.5p to 797p.

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