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TUESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Drugs firm Astra helps FTSE get high

Astrazeneca shares added 49.5p. Picture: AP

Astrazeneca shares added 49.5p. Picture: AP

  • by DOMINIC JEFF
 

Drugs giant AstraZeneca helped the market stay on the front foot as a three-month closed period on negotiations with suitor Pfizer expired.

Its shares added 49.5p at 4,467.5p, having already rallied more than 7 per cent last week as speculation grew that its US rival would return with an offer to trump the £69 billion bid that failed in May.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “There are no guarantees, but with Shire having already been snapped up in the sector, even if it’s not Pfizer you wouldn’t want to bet against someone else sniffing around Astra.”

Dovish comments by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi over the weekend helped the wider market with the prospect of money-printing to reflate the floundering eurozone. The FTSE 100 climbed 47.51 points to 6,822.76, with traders having apparently got over their recent fears over the Ukraine and the Middle East.

Bunzl was among the risers after the distribution company announced profits were up 14 per cent in the first half. Its shares closed 9p higher at 1,639p after giving back the lion’s share of their early gains.

The world’s biggest advertising group, WPP, also climbed on the back of decent interim results. It added 17p at 1,244p.

But there wasn’t much to cheer about for miner Antofagasta, which reported group profits down 11.5 per cent. It was the biggest faller in the top flight, although the shares shed little more than 1 per cent, down 9.5p at 798.5p. Other miners were also pulled lower, with Rio Tinto off 35p at 3,357.5p and Fresnillo 9p lower at 912.5p.

Outside the top flight, Perth-based transport group Stagecoach was on the move after it reported higher revenues, helped by its Megabus brand gaining traction in the US. Its shares advanced 5.7p to 365.2p.

 

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