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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in Cheshire-based construction group Pochin surged late last week as Michael Chadwick, the chairman of Irish builders'merchant Grafton, nearly doubled his stake to 22 per cent.

In contrast, Vp was unsettled late on after suggestions the plant hirer could be a target for animal rights activists.

The militants are targeting firms involved with controversial animal testing group Huntingdon Life Sciences and the possible threat prompted a flurry of selling of Vp's stock at the end of last week.

A previous smear campaign from animal rights protesters depressed construction group Montpellier and it took another tumble last week after £1.9 million hit from bad jobs.

Despite little interest in the City, shares in Gleeson are close to their 12-month high but lost 3.5p last week, closing at 309p after the sale of the group's plant arm to Speedy, which fell sixpence to 695p.

Mitie rose 4.5p to 163.5p as brokers re-iterated positive stances.

Panmure encouraged traders in with a 'buy' rating, while Arbuthnot re-iterated a 'neutral' stance and rival money maker Bridgewell flagged Mitie up as a positive 'overweight'.

Amec sagged as Bridgewell issued negative sentiments on the former contracting giant with Balfour Beatty - up 3p at 335p - the broker's construction stock of choice.

Among the house builders, Persimmon gained after a trading statement that went down well in the Square Mile.

Morgan Stanley was among the brokers to change its rating on Persimmon, lifting its target price 60p to 694p, which helped boost the shares.