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Market Watch

FINANCE

TRAVIS Perkins attracted buyers last week after forecastbusting half-year figures from the builders' merchants.

DrKW had predicted interim turnover of £1.3 billion but Travis Perkins beat this, bringing in sales of £1.4 billion and pre-tax prof its of £110.4 million compared to a prediction from the German investment bank of £91.5 million.

DrKW analyst Wayne Gerry, who has a 'buy' rating to a 1,700p target price on the shares, said: 'Despite the continuing difficult market conditions, lead indicators remain positive for the second half of the year.'

Credit Suisse is staying with a neutral tag but still upped its target price by 110p to 1,650p as many investors who had been cautious on Travis piled in last week, when volumes neared 22 million and the shares gained 104p to 1,595p.

Alfred McAlpine put on 11.25p a t 469.25p after kicking off the results season for the contractors, while Wimpey did the same for the house builders.

This gave Wimpey a chance to detail trading in a week that saw a rise in interest rates and, with interim pre-tax profits of £152.3 million, above many analysts' forecasts, the shares firmed 1.5p to 477p.

David Taylor, an analyst at stockbrokers Teather & Greenwood, said: 'They have certainly delivered.' He expects half-year profits at Wimpey of between £140 million and £145 million.

He added: 'The UK outlook seems set reasonably fair with stable volumes and recovering margins but the US is harder to read. It is plain that the peak of the cycle has passed.'