Brewing giant SABMiller was the standout stock as the Peroni owner agreed “in principle” to sell itself to rival Anheuser-Busch InBev in a near-£70 billion mega deal.
SABMiller’s shares raced 9 per cent higher, although the wider FTSE 100 Index closed 28.9 points lower at 6,342.28 as miners and commodity stocks fell into the red on fears over China’s slowing economy. Germany’s Dax and France’s Cac 40 were both almost 1 per cent lower.
Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, said: “Markets have grown used to underperforming Chinese data and thus today’s [trade] data was no surprise. However, it did show the path continues to be one of deterioration and a recovery seems out of sight – for now.”
In London, there was also some economic news as official figures showed inflation dipped back into negative territory last month after falls in the prices of food and petrol and offset rises for new fashions.
SABMiller was the biggest gainer in the top flight – up 326.5p to 3,948p – as it edged closer to a mega-merger with Belgium-based Budweiser brewer AB InBev.
Barclays was also in the spotlight following reports it is poised to appoint former JPMorgan investment banker Jes Staley as its new chief executive. But its shares were 2 per cent or 5.2p lower at 251.4p amid wider falls in the banking sector.