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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in support services companies were in demand last week.Jarvis was the biggest gainer, although with a share price at 9.75p, any change can translate into a big percentage move.

Atkins' shares resumed their upward march, climbing 34p to 657p.The firm is in a Carillion-led joint venture that has been chosen as the support services supplier on a £700 million contract to maintain and upgrade Ministry of Defence family accommodation.

Shares in fellow support services group Mitie, which has recently spent £4 million to acquire Intruder International as the first step in building up a national electronic security business, rose by just over 6.2 per cent to 158.5p.

Meanwhile shares in Tolent also attracted interest, rising almost 6 per cent to 215p.The contractor recently reported record profits and painted an optimistic picture for 2005 with a strong workload and a near-fully let property portfolio.But at the larger end of the industry, positive trading statements from Balfour Beatty and Carillion had little impact on their respective share prices.

Luton-based Gibbs & Dandy, one of the few remaining independent quoted builders'merchants, rose 6 per cent on the week.

Montpellier, down by almost 11 per cent, stood out among the fallers. Severfield-Rowen, the structural steel fabricator, was down by almost 6 per cent to 577p.Managing director John Severs last week sold 38,920 shares at 595p, although other directors added to their holdings.