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Market Watch

FINANCE

THE YEAR ended on a high for shareholders in Connaught after a round of takeover gossip drove shares in the social housing contractor to a record high.

The stock closed at the end of 2004 flat on the previous week at 570p as there was little trading between Christmas and New Year.

The run-up to Yuletide saw heavy speculative buying in the shares, which are listed on the Alternative Investment Market, with Lloyds TSB controlling a 10 per cent stake.

A handful of results and deals were concluded over the holiday period on the junior market with Montpellier - flat at 25.25p - releasing annual figures that indicated signs of a steadier hand at the tiller of the contracting group.

Also on AIM, Greenfield, up a quarter of a penny at 11.5p, put out maiden halfyear results that showed a deficit of £33,000.

This loss was built up in the period before cash shell Hightower reversed into groundworks subbie Greenfield and includes no trading from the enlarged group.

Still on the junior market, Raven Mount - which remained static at 71.5p - concluded its acquisition of Raven, the privately-owned property group controlled by Raven Mount's own management.

On the main market, Birse put out interim results that disappointed and Bristol Water lost 2.5p to 520p as a trading statement showed no sign of a conclusion to the long-planned sale of contracting arm Lawrence.

There was some relief for shareholders in Jarvis as half-year figures suggested that the ailing services group will survive.