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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in Galliford Try have hit record levels after the group snapped up private house builder Chartdale.

Galliford's shares have virtually doubled over the past year and more than 70 million shares were traded last week, showing there is an appetite for the diminishing band of companies still combining house building with contracting.

Not so long ago Galliford's market capitalisation was nearly eclipsed by Rok, which wanted to buy and break up the business.

Worries over rising debts weighed on Rok recently but last week it released a positive end-of-year trading statement detailing a reduction in debts.

Rok is still only valued at £144 million against £228 million for Galliford, which was formed six years ago when Galliford and Try merged.

Elsewhere among the contractors, Carillion firmed a ha'penny to 303p after a £315 million offer for rival Mowlem was cleared when Balfour Beatty opted not to bid. With no chance of a knock-out bid, shares in Mowlem sagged under the 220p per share offered by Carillion.

In contrast, Balfour Beatty ticked up tuppence to 362.75p with brokers Bridgewell re-iterating an 'overweight' rating on these shares and Carillion.

AWG gained 16p to 1, 098p after brokers Williams de Broe upgraded shares in the utility to contracting group from a 'hold' to a 'buy.

WdB also took a look at McCarthy & Stone after the retirement house builder held a site visit for analysts.

After the trip to Surrey, WdB told clients to 'hold' the stock ? a rating shared by Bridgewell ? and McStone closed last week up 9.5p at 667.5p, with over 23 million shares traded.