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Higher crude oil prices fuel recovery; Market report.

The stock market staged a major recovery yesterday more than bouncing back from Tuesday's falls.

The FTSE-100 Index surged ahead and reached its peak as trading closed to stand up 142.2 at 6,147.4.

It got off to a strong start by gains in overseas markets overnight and the momentum continued despite a weak opening in the US markets, which saw Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average fall into negative territory.

Heavyweight oil groups BP Amoco and Shell underpinned the gains in London as higher crude oil prices gave confidence to the sector.

BP Amoco was ahead 36p to 510p at the close with Shell up 27p to 479p.

Other major risers came from across the spectrum of business with Guinness-to-Burger King group Diageo up 53p to 523p and Hilton group surging ahead 12 per cent up 22p to 217p.

Hilton's leap follows its announcement earlier this week of sweeping plans for Internet betting at its Ladbrokes division.

Media groups Carlton, up 64p to 771p, and United News and Media, up 62p at 781p, also joined the rise as did cable TV and telephone company Telewest - up 37p to 456p.

Telewest was buoyed by comments from Chancellor Gordon Brown in which he supported BT's local lines being opened up for rivals sooner than expected.

BT fared less well on the news dropping 36p to 973p. Merging drug groups SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome also both fell after reporting results broadly in line with expectations, but giving no new information on the progress of the tie-up.

Glaxo lost 50p to pounds 14.59 and SmithKline lost 20p to 674p.

But fizzy drinks and chocolate group Cadbury Schweppes sweetened the investors' mood by posting sales and profit rises for the last year. Shares shot ahead 19p to 342p.

Halifax unveiled a mobile phone and Internet deal with BT and leapt up 22p to 453p.

Among the smaller stocks, engineering group Amec announced a pounds 221 million deal to buy Canadian construction, environmental and technical engineers, Agra. Shares in Amec slipped 8p to 205p.

But Airtours, the holidays operator fighting to take over arch rival First Choice Holidays, reported a doubling of losses in the winter period after a turbulent millennium period. Shares were down 29p to 242p.

Psion forged ahead almost 20 per cent - up 816p to pounds 52.03 - as investors continued buying in after continued good news on its Symbian joint venture for mobile telephony.

Once again, Vodafone AirTouch was the busiest traded stock, with 535 million shares changing hands. Shares gained 3p to 313p.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 17, 2000
Words:427
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