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Market Watch

BAHRAIN-based contractor Raymond International has sold its entire stake in Costain.

Raymond has owned shares in Costain since 1992 and had a 12 per cent stake 18 months ago but has gradually been selling to try and increase the stock's liquidity.

Last week Raymond sold its remaining 12.5 million shares, which represented a 5.5 per cent stake in Costain that is likely to be off-loaded to institutional investors.

Elsewhere among the contractors, Balfour Beatty dropped a penny to 303p as some investors took profits as the contracting giant's shares traded at an eightyear high.

North Midland and structural steel specialist Severfield-Rowen also both sank as directors sold shares.

Countryside closed the week up 9p at 280.5p as the Cherry family unveiled a cash bid of 275p that valued the house builder at £218 million. But rival Crest Nicholson slipped after failing to impress with a trading statement.

Aggreko ticked up 5p to 160p after a positive trading statement that prompted some brokers to upgrade their forecast for 2004 earnings from the temporary power hirer.

On AIM, loss-making contractor Wigmore gained after raising £384,000 of working capital by issuing 320 million shares and recruiting former St Modwen finance director Paul Doona as executive chairman.

Today (Thursday) sees another float on AIM as Creon looks to raise £1.5 million to loan out to local house builders in need of funds. Creon is floating at 50p per share, which values the firm at £3.1 million.