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September 15, 2005    

FTSE reaches four-year high

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by Brian Turner
S&P warns insurance syndicates face ruin from hurricane

In London on Thursday equities markets advanced, with the FTSE 100 rising to its highest level in four years.

The FTSE 100 gained 0.7 percent to 5,383.5, while the FTSE 250 was up by 0.1 percent to 7,866.6.

Volume on the day was fairly high at 3 billion shares traded.

A significant factor in the day’s advances was the oil sector. BP gained 2.3 percent to 646½p, while Royal Dutch Shell’s “B” shares were up 3 percent to £18.75.

The advances were at least partly due to a new forecast from UBS that raised their estimate of the price of Brent crude oil for 2005 from $52 to $56.35 and from $40 to $65 for 2007, leading it to raise its outlook for earnings in the oil sector an average of 35 percent for the years 2005 - 2008.

Rumors once again drove share prices for some companies. Chemicals group BOC gained 3.7 percent to £11.72 on continuing talk that either Linde or BASF will bid for it.

Meanwhile, leisure group Whitbread benefited from talk that the Reuben brothers were interested in the company. Whitbread’s shares gained 1.2 percent to 959½p even though the brothers said they do not comment on rumors.

In the steel sector, Anglo-Dutch group Corus gained 2.1 percent to 48¾p on renewed talk that it was interested in acquiring Salzgitter of Switzerland.

Retailer Tesco dropped 1.3 percent to 324½p on a downgrade from “buy” to “hold” by SG Securities on the grounds that its exposure to non-food products in a market that is weak has made it vulnerable to losses.

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