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Market Watch


SHARES in the three construction industry companies that feature in the blue chip FTSE 100 all powered to record highs last week.

Plumbing distributor Wolseley put on 26p to 1,356p after the Office of Fair Trading decided not to refer the company's acquisition of insulation distributor Encon to the Competition Commission.

Wolseley bought Encon for £140.5 million last October but had been waiting on the outcome of a potential OFT intervention until last week.

An in-line trading statement from Wolseley earlier last week had prompted brokers Bridgewell and Goldman to both downgrade their rating on the stock but the OFT decision provoked enough confidence among investors to take the shares to a new level.

Hanson made the construction leader board as shares in the aggregates titan also hit a record high with brokers Williams de Broe reiterating a 'buy' rating.

House builder Persimmon failed to make the top ten risers but put on 68p to 1,301p as the acquisition of Westbury was concluded. Broker Teather & Greenwood said that the house builder was its number one industry stock.

The industry's bigger firms are not the only strong performers. The re-jigged FTSE Construction sector is well ahead of th is time last year.

The tiny AIM Construction sector did fall but the new, more clearly defined indices for Home Construction and Business Support Services, the latter representing outsourcing contractors, both rose.

Of the 105 shares on the Construction News index, 60 climbed last week with just 29 down.