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Healthcare stocks lift UK's FTSE 100

Thursday, August 21 09:52:46

Britain's top equity index rose on Thursday on gains in healthcare stocks, led by AstraZeneca on speculation rejected U.S. suitor Pfizer might make another bid. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up by 0.2 percent, or 10.83 points, at 6,766.31 points in early trading, approaching three-week highs touched earlier this week.

AstraZeneca rose 1.8 percent, while healthcare rival GlaxoSmithKline advanced by 0.8 percent, adding the most points to the FTSE 100. Beaufort Securities sales trader Basil Petrides said there was a good chance Pfizer would come back with a new bid, and that shareholders would put pressure on AstraZeneca to respond.

AstraZeneca snubbed a Pfizer bid earlier this year. The FTSE 100 hit a peak of 6,894.88 points in mid-May, which marked its highest level since December 1999. Central Markets' trading analyst said the FTSE had to get past a July peak of 6,830 points if the index was to then make further progress and challenge record highs of 7,000 points later in the year.

The market was little changed after July data showing British retail sales grew at a weaker pace than expected and public finances posted a small deficit. (Reuters)

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