London midmorning: Mining rally peters out

London midmorning: Mining rally peters out

Leading shares failed to maintain their early gains on Monday morning as weak utilities dragged on sentiment with even a bullish mining sector failing to offset the losses.

Cairn Energy was the worst performer with BP also dragging its heels on the back of reports that crude production in Iraq remains strong.

Otherwise utilities dragged on the market with National Grid, Scottish Power and Severn Trent all trading lower on the session.

Elsewhere the mining sector limited the losses with Kazakhmys and BHP Billiton were both strong. Corus was another riser on hopes that the settling of the bid for steel group Arcelor could spark a re-rating of the sector or possibly more bid action.

On that theme, pharmaceutical group Shire was strong on a report at the weekend that it could be in the sights of Swiss rival Serono.

Cadbury Schweppes was a loser on the withdrawal of a series of its products after the discovery of minute traces of salmonella at one of its UK chocolate factories.

Hotel group De Vere has recommended a £723.5m, 825p per share takeover from AHG Venice, a vehicle of Alternative Hotels Group. Private equity group Permira still says it is interested in making a counter offer for De Vere and is advising shareholders to take no action.

Casino group Stanley Leisure has confirmed it is in merger talks with London Clubs International to be effected by way of a share-for-share exchange on the basis of 1 new Stanley share for every 6 London Clubs shares.

Housebuilder Persimmon says like-for-like sales reservations in the year-to-date rose around 7% and first-half sales will exceed £1.5bn versus £1.09bn. Average selling prices edged up 2.4% with the housing market active and operating at a satisfactory level.

Contractor Balfour Beatty has made a £32m recommended cash offer for civil engineering firm Birse Group. The offer is worth 16.625p per Birse share.

Car dealer Inchcape’s first-half trading has been in line with its expectations. It remains confident of further growth and strong cash generation in 2006, its statement said.


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