Markets: Rollercoaster day for big City name

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SHARES in engine maker Rolls-Royce took a hammering yesterday after it emerged that the cornerstone of British industry was the subject of a probe by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Rolls said it was co-operating with the SFO after its own internal investigations identified bribery and corruption allegations involving its intermediaries in overseas markets, including China and Indonesia.

The stock fell 3 per cent or 28.5p to close at 885p, wiping nearly £600 million from its market value. Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG Index, said: “A big issue for investors right now is the credibility of UK-listed companies.

“It is hard enough to decide where to allocate capital, without the added worry that our biggest names are constantly releasing past skeletons – so many have done so in the past year or two that one wonders when this trend will stop.”

The wider FTSE 100 index closed up 9.34 points at 5,901.42 as markets gave a muted response to both the Bank of England and European Central Bank leaving their respective interest rates on hold.

London’s blue-chip stocks were propped up by the heavily-weight mining sector amid market chatter that BHP Billiton was preparing a takeover bid for Alabama-based coal producer Walter Energy, a rumour on which BHP refused to comment. The stock closed up 15.5p at 2,013.5p.

High street stalwart Marks & Spencer climbed 1.5 per cent or 5.9p to 397.8p after traders began speculating that Arcadia chairman Sir Philip Green will use some of his £500m windfall from the sale of a 25 per cent stake in Top Shop to put towards a takeover attempt on M&S. Arcadia denied the suggestion.

NEW YORK: Wall Street edged higher last night, a day ahead of the key monthly US jobs report, with a rebound in Apple’s shares helping to boost the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 39.55 points, or 0.30 per cent, to end the day at 13,074.04 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 4.64 points, or 0.33 per cent, to finish the session at 1,413.92.

The Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 15.57 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 2,989.27.