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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in Westbury surged 34p to 494p at the end of last week on rumours of a bid that was confirmed on Monday as coming from Persimmon.

With land for house building becoming increasingly scarce, traders viewed the 15,100 plots held by Westbu ry as a prize worth having and marked Persimmon up 39.5p to a record 950p.

Shares in Carillion also hit an all-time high of 289.25p ? up 13.25p ? after the contracting group was confirmed as the predator behind a bid for ailing rival Mowlem ? up 8.5p to 191p.

In a busy week for corporate activity, Vp firmed a penny to 203.5p after the plant hirer unveiled a £11.5 million acquisition of portable roads and fencing outf it Trax.

With all these deals in the offing, construction stocks proved popular with 67 of the 104 shares on the Construction News index up on the previous week.

Of the 25 stocks that did fall, a number were unsettled by a profits warning from the builders' merchant Travis Perkins, which also undermined confidence in Irishbased rival Grafton.

The prospect of consumers spending less also upset trading in some retail focused suppliers, such as SIG and Marshalls, which gave up 6.25p to 292.75p.

On the junior markets, social housing contractor Connaught hit a record high of 828.5p after positive results that prompted some earnings upgrades for the Alternative Investment Market-listed shares.

KBC Peel Hunt and Seymour Hunt both re-iterated a 'buy' rating on Connaught's shares.

Numis also encouraged buyers up to 1,000p, while Altium Securities raised its target price 150p to 950p.