London Report: Takeover hope and US expansion keep FTSE 100 on a high

US expansion plans for Associated British Foods and expectations of consolidation in the drugs sector kept Britain’s top share index near a two-week high yesterday.

Clothing and food conglomerate AB Foods surged 8.8 per cent, its best one-day percentage gain for 14 years, after saying its fast-growing clothing chain Primark is to set up in the United States, while posting higher profits.

AstraZeneca’s 2.1 per cent rise built on a 4.7 per cent gain on Tuesday, after The Sunday Times reported a possible $100bn bid from Pfizer.

Both companies declined to comment on the report, but the prospect of deal-making in the sector also lifted Shire and GlaxoSmithKline for a second consecutive day.

The FTSE 100 – which on Tuesday hit its highest intra-day level since 4 April – closed down 7.02 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,674.74 points. Stocks trading without their latest dividend accounted for all of the index’s drop, with Aggreko, BG, Centrica, L&G, Antofagasta, Mondi, Old Mutual and Rolls Royce knocking off 8.7 points.