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Market Report: Profit takers move in after gloom in US.

The FTSE 100 Index made a brief foray above the 4300 mark yesterday only to close back in the red after a gloomy start on Wall Street.

After surging almost 44 points during morning trading, a lacklustre start on Wall Street appeared to be the cue for profit takers to move in on this side of the Atlantic.

With heavyweight banking stocks surrendering earlier gains, the blue chip index ended the session 3.4 points off its opening mark at 4268.6.

Meanwhile the Dow Jones industrial Average was down around 14 points as trading in London closed.

Tom Hougaard from City Index said: 'It shows that the bears are still keen to sell the FTSE above 4300.

'All in all there was a hope for a bullish day but there was once again lack of follow through and lack of momentum.' Earlier gains in London were driven by renewed takeover activity with healthcare firm Amersham revealing it had received an approach.

It topped the Footsie risers board with a 16 per cent or 89 1 /2p increase to 641p, on top of solid gains Tuesday.

Other blue chip risers included ITV firm Granada which continued to bask in Tuesday's glory after the Government conditionally approved its plans to merge with rival Carlton to create a dominant force in ITV -up 4 1 /2p at 116 3 /4p. Outside the top flight Carlton gained another 9 1 /4p to reach 214 1 /4p.

Other blue chips making progress included mobile phone firms mmO2 and Vodafone -up 2p to 64p and 1p to 124 1 /2p respectively. But it was a mixed session for banking shares. While mortgage bank Northern Rock managed to stay on positive ground by the end of the session, up 13p at 731p, Royal Bank of Scotland, slipped into the red to close 6p lower at 1614p. Rival HSBC closed 9 1 /2p lower at 843p and Abbey National slid 7 3 /4p to 533p. Meanwhile a number of high street retailers in the second tier impressed investors with strong sales figures.

They included Iceland owner Big Food Group, which climbed 6 per cent or 6p to 113 1 /2p following a return to growth for the frozen food business.

Like Big Food, Mothercare is also seeing success in its battle to revive fortunes as it reported a 6.6 per cent rise in likefor-like sales. With brokers upping their forecasts, shares in Mothercare dramatically rose 24 per cent or 54p to 278p.

Sports retailer JJB also offered investors hopes of a trading revival, with sales picking up after a tough first six months of the financial year.

Wigan-based JJB, which said it had started talks over the sale of its TJ Hughes chain, saw its share price rise 10p to 279 1 /2p.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Amersham up 89 1 /2p at 641p, Sage up 7 3 /4p at 182 3 /4p, Granada up 4 1 /2p at 116 3 /4p and mmO2 up 2p at 64p.

The biggest fallers included Rexam down 11 3 /4p at 389 3 /4p, Unilever down 11 1 /2p at 515p, Centrica down 3 1 /2p at 189 1 /4p and BT off 3 1 /4p at 185p.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 9, 2003
Words:541
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