Techs give the market a lead


Techs and telecoms stocks dominated the Footsie risers' board yesterday (Wednesday) as the London Stock Exchange got off to a confident start.

After the first hour, the FTSE-100 Index of leading companies was ahead by 63.1 points at 6277.8.

The upbeat start to the session was helped by strong gains overnight on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-dominated Nasdaq finished ahead.

On this side of the Atlantic, telecom stocks in particular recovered lost ground following yesterday's falls, with Colt Telecom picking up 60p at 18.60 and Vodafone gaining 4p at 230p.

Among the techs, software companies Sage and Autonomy of Cambridge were strongly ahead, up by 16p at 359p and by 77p at 23.35 respectively.

Computer services group Dimension Data was stronger by 121/2p at 5041/2p.

With little corporate news to catch the eye, attention focused on the latest takeover developments in the housebuilding sector.

Following Taylor Woodrow's swoop for Bryant Homes, Persimmon entered the fray today with a 537 million offer for Beazer Homes.

That boosted Beazer's share price by 21/2p to 172p while Persimmon slipped almost 5 per cent, or 12p, to 244p.

And there was more gloom in the retail sector after designer outlet Ted Baker said a tough Christmas period would affect full-year profits.

That news sent shares down by more than 22 per cent, slipping 671/2p to 2361/2p.