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Market Watch

FINANCE

SOCIAL housing maintenance contractor Mears made the leaderboard by drumming up interest on the Alternative Investment Market for its shares after taking institutional investors around a project in Hackney, east London, last Wedne sd ay.

Elsewhere, Bellway, up 6.5p to 876p, and Mouchel Parkman, ahead 10p to 277p, rose as traders took positions in the run-up to results released earlier this week.

Shares in Jarvis firmed a quarter of a penny to 82.5p as signs that the fire sale at the business is abating.

Jarvis was expected to offload its Herefordshire road maintenance arm as part of an overall sale of its highways maintenance division to Accord but will keep the business after completing a restructuring.

Outsourcing was a focus for the occupants of the Square Mile's counting stools last week, with WS Atkins ticking up 12p to 716p as Dutch banking giant ABN Amro reiterated a 'buy' rating.

Outsourcing giant Serco also put on 6.25p to 257.75p on an upgrade by German investment bank DrKW.

After upgrading its target price on the shares from 252p to 320p, DrKW said in a research note: 'Serco's margins are low relative to the sector, partly ref lecting investment for growth, strong risk management and bid costs.' There was also interest in Capita, which gained after an upgrade to 'outperform' from investment bank Goldman Sachs, while brokers Panmure Gordon reiterated a 'buy' rating on the shares up to a target price of 400p.

Other brokerages are even more bullish about Capita, with Bridgewell putting a fair value price of between 400p and 430p for the stock, which closed last week at 380.5p.