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Market Watch


TONY Pidgley's plan to return cash to investors by slimming down Berkeley did wonders for shares in his house building business but also set investors thinking.

Mr Pidgley's plan is not dissimilar to one in the late 1980s when Berkeley reduced its landbank before the property market crashed and a sense of deja vu filtered through the Square Mile last week.

Elsewhere, Wolseley gained 18.5p to 847.5p after analysts at Citigroup Smith Barney re-iterated a 'buy' rating with a target price of 950p, arguing that the products giant would benefit from strengthening US lumber prices.

Analysts are gloomier on Ultraframe, suggesting the stock will hit 100p before bottoming out, but share-buying from director David Ewing helped the conservatory maker up 3.25p to 122.25p.

With the annual general meeting season still in full swing, investors were sufficiently impressed with the rest of Havelock Europa's AGM statement to ignore a warning that profits at its fit-out operation would be biased towards the second half of this year due to seasonal fluctuations.

As a result, the shares closed the week up a penny to 95.5p.

On the Alternative Investment Market, services outfit Cape put on 15.5p to 100p after a positive AGM statement including expected cost savings from restructuring in the north-east and Scotland.

Still on AIM, Spring Grove was flat at 37.5p as founders Kevin Childs and Andy Milne each bought 83,333 shares to increase their stake in the maintenance contractor to 19.4 per cent apiece.

Montpellier continues to slide on concerns that the contracting group is being targeted by animal rights activists.