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September 5, 2006    

Late rally sends FTSE slightly higher

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by Elaine Frei

London equities markets were up on Tuesday, but just barely, with the FTSE 100 adding 0.08 percent to 5,918.7 and the FTSE 250 gaining 0.01 percent to 9,761 in a late rally that brought both indices up from earlier declines. Volume was a bit higher at 2.8 billion shares trading hands during the session.

The oil sector was helped higher on the day by bid rumors. Royal Dutch Shell was said to be interested in bidding for both BG Group, which added 0.9 percent to 690½p, and for Premier Oil, which ended the session 2.1 percent higher to £10.65. Royal Dutch Shell itself gained 0.1 percent to £18.96.

Utilities ended the session lower, with the exception of Centrica, which owns British Gas. Centrica added 1.9 percent to 308¼p even though Gazprom denied rumors that it was interested in making a bid. Vattenfall has also been said to be interested. Elsewhere in the sector, Scottish & Southern dropped 0.4 percent to £12.21, while Scottish Power was 0.5 percent lower to 625½p and United Utilities fell 0.7 percent to 685½p.

In the retail sector, Next was 0.6 percent higher to £16.67 after Man Securities recommended that its clients buy on the strength of a prediction that margins will increase even if sales decline. Meanwhile, DSG International gained 0.9 percent to 209¾p on positive comments from Merrill Lynch.

Among miners, Kazakhmys added 3.4 percent to £13.31 on a repot that its half-year report will show operating profits up by 121 percent.

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