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AstraZeneca lifts FTSE 100 to its best session in one week

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain
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By Bansari Mayur Kamdar, Shashank Nayar and Amal S

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 ended higher on Wednesday, as AstraZeneca boosted healthcare stocks on completing a takeover deal to sharpen its focus on rare-disease drugs.

AstraZeneca rose 4.2% and was the top boost to the blue-chip FTSE 100 after the pharmaceutical company said its newly acquired Alexion division would buy the remaining equity in Caelum Biosciences in a deal that could be worth up to $500 million.

The FTSE 100 rose 1.1% to mark its best day in a week. HSBC Holdings advanced 2.1% and led the banking sub-index 1.7% higher, while Investec, Natwest Group and Lloyds rose between 0.7% and 2.2%.

The blue-chip index has risen 10.1% so far this year on highly accommodative central bank policies and optimism around steady COVID-19 vaccination drives. But in September, it is set to record its worst month since January this year as inflation and economic slowdown worries weighed on investor sentiment.

"To counter the threat posed by rising prices they (central banks) face the prospect of dialling down economic support at a time of mounting uncertainty over the recovery," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

The benchmark UK 10-year bond yield slipped on Wednesday but has gained nearly 50 basis points in the past eight trading sessions, as signs of a more persistent inflation pattern raised bets of a sooner-than-expected interest rate hike. Banks generally perform better in a higher interest rate environment.

Britons have reported a first worsening in their financial situation in more than a year as inflation pushes up the cost of living, a survey showed.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index advanced 0.1%, with travel and leisure stocks among the top gainers.

Among stocks, clothing retailer Next Plc rose 3.9% after raising its full-year profit guidance.

Upper Crust owner SSP Group fell 5.4% over a slow recovery as sales remained at half of the pre-pandemic levels.

Morrisons gained 1.4% on report that a $9.5-billion fight for the British supermarket will be decided at an auction on Saturday.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar, Shashank Nayar and Amal S; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Marguerita Choy)

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