London Report: Pharma giants and Fed move lift FTSE to a two-week high

BRITAIN’S main share index rose to a two-week high yesterday, helped by gains in pharmaceutical stocks and by a pledge from the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low.

Some investors expect the blue-chip FTSE 100 index to rally into the end of 2013, forecasting gains of roughly 50-150 points between now and the end of this month.

The FTSE 100 closed up 1.4 per cent, or 92.62 points, at 6,584.70 points, bringing its gains since the start of 2013 to around 12 per cent.

The FTSE’s rise broadly tracked those of stock markets worldwide after the Fed sugar-coated a surprise first cut to its crisis-era bond-buying programme with a pledge to keep interest rates low.

Investors around the world took the Fed’s decision to trim the programme by $10bn to $75bn a month largely in their stride, considering it a modest step that the US could withstand.

A rise in major pharmaceutical stocks such as AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline gave one of the biggest lifts to the FTSE, as M&A activity provided a boost.

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