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Thursday 20th of November 2008
April 19, 2006

FTSE 100 closes at 5-year high


by Elaine Frei

In London on Wednesday the FTSE 100 had its highest close since February 2001 as it gained 0.76 percent to 6,089.8. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was up even more, adding 0.89 percent to 9.871.8.

The construction materials sector was up on comments indicating that the US Federal Reserve might be nearly finished raising interest rates for the time being. Companies with large US operations should see benefit should this be the case. Hanson was up 4.25 percent to 760½p, while Wolseley added 3.9 percent to £14.03. Also benefiting from the news on interest rates was Taylor Woodrow. With 40 percent of its business in the United States, the homebuilder gained 1.3 percent to 387¼p.

Publisher Emap added 3.6 percent to 869½p on rumors that several entities are interested in purchasing its French business. Once it sheds that unit, Emap itself was said to be a possible target for bids.

Casino operator London Clubs International added 7 percent to 115p, also on bids rumors. There is talk that Ladbrokes will try for LCI once it sells its Hilton hotel interests. US group Boyd Gaming is also said to be interested. Ladbrokes was up 0.4 percent to 418½p on the day.

Leisure group Rank, owner of Grosvenor Casinos, was up 2.15 percent to 225½p on a reiteration of a recommendation to “buy” from Citigroup, citing it as an attractive takeover target if it gets rid of its losing Deluxe Media business. Elsewhere in the sector, Stanley Leisure added 4.5 percent to 713½p and William Hill advanced by 1.16 percent to 609½p.

Imperial Tobacco was up 4 percent to £17.54, a five-year high share price, on speculation that it would make an offer for Franco-Spanish tobacco company Altadis before the year is out. JP Morgan said that the deal was likely due to a combination of Imperial being in a strong position and Altadis’ share prices being weak. Along with these comments, JP Morgan also raised Imperial’s target share price from £18.50 to £20.00.

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