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Weir Group given boost as US growth sparks 4% share surge

SHARES in Weir group rose 4% after a brokerage said the engineering group's oil and gas division would benefit from resurgent activity in shale areas in the USA.

Initiating coverage of Glasgow-based Weir Group with a buy rating, Redburn Partners said there is scope for material increase in the company's shares.

It believes the company's US oil and gas business will achieve strong growth in spite of concerns in some quarters that activity may have peaked following a boom in the key onshore market.

Weir Group issued a profit warning in November when it noted an unexpected fall in rig count in the US in the third quarter.

Redburn analyst Stephen Swanton wrote: "There is recovery in the US fracking market and improved rig economics will see the Oil & Gas division grow sales more than 10% in 2014."

Fracking involves forcing sand water and chemicals into shale rocks under high pressure to help release hydrocarbons.

Mr Swanton said Weir would benefit from oil and gas firms replacing the pumps used in the fracking process and buying new ones.

Traders said Weir shares were boosted by news that the number of US natural gas and horizontal rigs increased last week.

Mr Swanton said Weir's mining business should be able to grow revenues even if big firms cut spending on new projects.

Weir earns much of its revenues from servicing mining pumps.

On Friday, Societe Generale reiterated its sell rating on Weir shares, saying the company's earnings would be affected by delays in mining projects and the strength of the pound.

Shares in Weir Group closed up 90p at £22.27. They have traded at near £25 in recent times.

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