FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Talk of private equity bid lifts Weir

Chairman of the Weir Group Charles Berry. Picture: Robert Perry
Chairman of the Weir Group Charles Berry. Picture: Robert Perry
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Mining and drilling supplier Weir Group was the biggest blue chip riser amid speculation that its weak share price has made it a takeout target.

The Glasgow-based firm saw its stock add more than 4 per cent, up 74p at 1,813p as rumours of a US private equity consortium forming to launch a bid did the rounds.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “Weir’s share price has fallen by almost a third over the last six months as the commodities rout has taken a toll on prospects, so the prospect of someone seeing value at this level cannot be ruled out. After all, this industry isn’t facing extinction, it’s just that we’re seeing a levelling of supply and demand removing the toppy prices.”

Weir’s rise came despite a rout in the commodities sector. Heavyweight mining stocks were once again under pressure as the price of iron ore moved below $60 a tonne. The usual suspects headed lower, with Anglo American down 28.5p at 1,1136p and BHP Billiton 26.5p cheaper at 1,550.5p.

Across the pond the non-farm payrolls showed the US economy created almost 300,000 jobs in February and was taken as a signal that the Fed can’t wait too long before hiking rates. That boosted the dollar and helped to weaken precious metals, sending miners Fresnillo and Randgold to the bottom of a struggling FTSE 100.

Silver miner Fresnillo dropped 38p to 698.5p and Randgold Resources shed 255p at 4,581p. The FTSE 100 itself was 49.34 points lower at 6,911.8.

ITV was among the top risers for the third day in a row as more brokers joined Goldman Sachs in endorsing the broadcaster. The shares climbed a further 2.3 per cent to 246.5p, with Berenberg and Nomura among those upping their target price for the group.