Buy programmes give equities a lift


THE stock market, which had braced itself for the aftermath of an expected storm on Wall Street over night, gathered itself after a soft opening and closed in good heart.

Wall Street's panicky response on Wednesday to Mr Alan Greenspan's testimony to Congress, in which he repeated his warning about the doubtful sustainability of the recent rise in US equities, had seen the Dow Jones Industrial Average slide more than 100 points, before rallying strongly to close 55 points lower.

More worrying for global markets was the two point fall in US Treasury bonds, prompted by Mr Greenspan's warning about the potential for a pre emptive increase in interest rates to head off inflationary pressures.

With little or no evidence of any substantial selling by the big institutions, however, the FT SE 100 index delivered a comforting performance to close 9.9 higher.

Another powerful reason for the good closing performance by London was evidence of two trading programmes, one small to medium sized but the other of substantial proportions, and both said to have been weighted on the buy side.

The bigger of the two programmes included a block of over 7 million Vodafone shares 4.8 million Prudential, 3 million P & O, 3.2 million Grand Met and 1.9 million BAT, as well as big blocks in other leading stocks.

The expected trouncing of the Conservative Party in the Wirral South by election, where Labour was confidently forecast to overturn an 8,000 majority in yesterday's poll, was viewed as a foregone conclusion, and had little or no impact on the market, dealers said.

Turnover, lifted by the programme trading, reached 800.8 million by the 6 p.m. cut off point. Customer business on Tuesday was valued at £2.25 billion.