Share indices in the week to 30 March 2001
Laing had a better time of it after it stunned the industry by announcing that subcontractor O'Rourke was preferred bidder for its contracting arm (pages 9-12). The shares leaped 14p to 527p as the City rejoiced in the news that the troublesome business was about to be sold. Meanwhile, in the housebuilding sector, things are starting to look up for Barratt.

Its share price has wallowed in the doldrums for years despite consistently producing strong profits and growth. But since the announcement of its results for the past six months, when pre-tax profit jumped 25% to £63.1m, the share price has steadily improved.

Shares jumped 25.5p to 309p last Wednesday, the day the results came out, and by earlier this week they were up to 331.5p. It's a big improvement on the 52-week low of 199.5p but, according to analysts, there is still a long way to go.

One analyst, who was particularly gloomy about Barratt's long-term prospects on the stock market, even thought the group should go private.

He said: "It's obvious the market doesn't like them when you look at the price." Despite the low valuation, such drastic action seems unlikely.