DEAL activity in the insurance sector and a string of well-received trading figures saw the London market end a five-day streak of heavy losses.
More Than owner RSA soared 80.7p or 18.4 per cent to close at 518.5p after rival insurer Zurich said it was considering an offer for the group.
Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG, said: “Zurich’s decision to come calling for RSA was, in a sense, inevitable, given the poor share price performance of the UK firm; the euphoric reaction in RSA’s share price seems to indicate investors will welcome a safe harbour within the comforting embrace of the Swiss insurance giant.”
RSA’s surge, along with official data showing the UK economy expanded by 0.7 per cent in the second quarter, helped the FTSE 100 Index finish the session 50.15 points higher at 6,555.28.
Broadcaster ITV was another riser, gaining 6.5p to 270.2p after a better-than-expected 25 per cent hike in half-year underlying profits to £391 million, which offset figures revealing its worst audience numbers for at least 15 years.
An upgrade to the profit outlook at Next, prompted by a weather-related boost to its sales, saw the fashion retailer add 205p or 2.7 per cent to end the day at 7,705p.
Royal Mail was the biggest top-flight faller after regulator Ofcom said its provisional view was that the postal giant broke competition law when it tried to change the way it charged rivals such as Whistl for use of its network. Shares fell 17.3p or 3.4 per cent to close at 486.7p.
Supermarkets were also out of favour after industry figures showed the “big four” chains continue to feel the squeeze from discount rivals Aldi and Lidl. Morrisons fell 1.8p to 179.6p, while market leader Tesco ended the session 1.9p lower at 212.4p.