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FTSE 100 tracks upbeat global mood, Countryside soars after takeover approach

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FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London
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By Amal S and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -Britain's FTSE 100 edged higher on Monday, as an easing of China's COVID-19 curbs lifted spirits across global markets, while Countryside soared after its shareholder made a second approach to buy the homebuilder.

After rising to its highest level since April 22, the blue-chip FTSE 100 gave away some gains to end 0.2% higher, while the domestically focused FTSE 250 rose 0.8%.

Asian and European stocks gained on news that Shanghai authorities will cancel many conditions for businesses to resume work from Wednesday, easing a city-wide lockdown that began two months ago.

"It has been mostly a subdued day of trade for the UK markets; while the start was good, the benchmark index could not manage to keep the momentum going," said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive at research firm Kalkine.

"There has been a concern across the global markets about the economic growth that weighs down the investors' sentiments."

Wall Street closed sharply higher on Friday ahead of Monday's Memorial Day holiday as signs of peaking inflation and consumer resiliency led to optimism that the Fed will be able to tighten monetary policy without tipping the economy into recession. [.N]

Gains were broad-based in UK stocks, with spirits maker Diageo, consumer giant Unilever, and miner Anglo American providing the biggest boost to the FTSE 100.

Countryside Partnerships surged 18.6% after Inclusive Capital, which owns about 9.2% of Countryside, said was looking to engage with the homebuilder for a possible takeover offer valuing it at about 1.47 billion pounds ($1.86 billion).

The wider housing index climbed 2.1%.

"The bid is testament to the appeal of the UK housebuilding sector which, regardless of the economic backdrop, should benefit in the long term from supportive supply and demand dynamics," added Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Ted Baker rose 4.6% after a report said that Juicy Couture owner Authentic Brands is the British fashion chain's preferred bidder and that the two firms could agree on a 300 million pound ($379.35 million) deal.

Martin Sorrell's digital advertising group S4 Capital gained 4.3% as it reiterated its full-year outlook, saying it expected robust demand despite forecasts of slowing global economic growth.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Tomasz Janowski)

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