London Report: FTSE rises to 7-week high as pharma deal hopes lift sentiment

THE UK’S top share index hit a seven-week closing high yesterday, bolstered by expectations of deal-making in the healthcare sector, though renewed tension in Ukraine dented the market’s gains.

Smith & Nephew, Europe’s largest maker of artificial hips and knees, led the blue-chip gains by rising 3.4 per cent after medical device maker Zimmer Holdings said it would buy orthopaedic products firm Biomet. The acquisition – the latest in a burst of deal-making and bids in the healthcare industry aimed at either gaining scale or specialising in certain disease areas – supported a long-held view that Smith & Nephew might itself become a target.

Trading volume in Smith & Nephew was four and a half times its 90-day daily average, contrasting with the FTSE 100 on about three quarters.

The FTSE 100 closed up 28.26 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 6,703.00 points, its highest close since 7 March, though off an earlier peak of 6,724. AstraZeneca climbed 3.3 per cent to a record high, extending this week’s strong advance on Pfizer’s reported interest.