FTSE claims back some ground

One of the most volatile weeks in the London market’s recent history ended today with the FTSE 100 Index barely changed on its starting point.

One of the most volatile weeks in the London market’s recent history ended today with the FTSE 100 Index barely changed on its starting point.

Recession fears in the United States meant the Footsie dived 5% on Monday and continued to fluctuate until eventually closing 30 points lower for the week.

London’s turnaround owed much to America’s £76bn (€102.5) economic stimulus package and upbeat jobs data, although gains of 97.5 points at the start of Friday’s session were lost to leave the Footsie 6.8 points lower at 5869.

The weaker end to the session reflected a cautious start on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading near to its opening mark.

The efforts to boost US economic growth helped miners with Xstrata up 107p to 3500p and Vedanta Resources 123p higher at 1829p. Metals producer Kazakhmys also gained 58p to 1164p.

Power firms were priced higher by traders in London, with British Energy ahead 28.25p to 520p and International Power 12p stronger at 398.25p. Scottish & Southern Energy lifted 30p to 1502p.

Imperial Tobacco led the risers board after the group said its bid for Spanish cigarette maker Altadis had won shareholder approval. Altadis manufactures Fortune, Gitanes and Ducados cigarettes and is also the world’s leading cigar distributor. Imperial shares were up 9% or 202p to 2430p.

Shares in Thomson Holidays owner Tui Travel and Thomas Cook also took off after Lehman Brothers began coverage with positive noise on both travel companies. The stocks rose 4.25p to 242.25p and 7.75p to 248.75p respectively.

Foster’s brewer Scottish & Newcastle was 17p ahead at 783p after accepting a £7.8bn (€10.5bn) offer from rivals Carlsberg and Heineken.

On the back foot were housebuilders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey, off 61p to 826p and 11.35p to 193.4p respectively. They have both enjoyed a mini-recovery recently and were open for some profit taking.

Also down were several retailers including B&Q owner Kingfisher, off 0.9p to 141.7p, after broker Evolution Securities warned of an earnings threat in the short term. Marks & Spencer was worse off by 11p at 434p, while Home Retail Group was off 11.25p at 278.75p and Next fell 56p to 1375p.

Outside the top flight, Northern Rock shares rallied 7% – or 7p to 111p – as investors continued to bet on a private buy-out solution for the beleaguered mortgage bank.

Shares in pubs chain Marston’s fell 6% after a slowdown in like-for-like sales growth at its managed pubs estate. Margins were also under pressure as a result of the smoking ban, leaving shares 16.75p lower at 271.5p.

Restaurant chain Prezzo fell by 10% at one stage after forecasting profits towards the bottom end of market expectations. Shares later recovered to close 0.25p higher at 45.25p.

The biggest Footsie risers were Imperial Tobacco up 202p at 2430p, Vedanta Resources ahead 123p at 1829p, British Energy up 28.25p at 520p and Kazakhmys ahead 58p at 1164p.

The biggest fallers were Persimmon down 61p at 826p, Old Mutual off 8.5p at 133.2p, Alliance & Leicester down 46.5p at 736p and Taylor Wimpey off 11.35p at 193.4p.

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