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Real estate, insurance stocks push FTSE 100 higher; Admiral jumps

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FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London
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By Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 ended higher on Monday as gains in insurance stocks led by Admiral Group outweighed weakness in heavyweight energy and mining stocks, while concerns over a rise in coronavirus infections in Britain kept gains in check.

Admiral rose 3.9% to the top of the FTSE 100 after the British motor insurer said it was on track for a higher-than-expected first-half profit due to lower motor accident claims during pandemic lockdowns.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended 0.1% higher, with non-life insurers, healthcare and real estate stocks gaining the most.

AstraZeneca gave the biggest boost to the FTSE 100 after brokerage Jefferies raised its price target on the stock, while Thailand said it would use the drugmaker's vaccine as a second dose for those who received Sinovac's shot as their first dose in a bid to increase protection.

England will go ahead with plans to lift almost all legal restrictions on day-to-day life on July 19, health minister Sajid Javid said on Monday.

"There still seems to be a great deal of uncertainty prevailing over the rate of increase in Delta variant cases, and the prospect of a much slower re-opening process, as governments try to win the race between vaccines and accelerating case numbers," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Concerns over a recent jump in UK coronavirus infections have kept the FTSE 100 range-bound near 7,100, limiting further gains and also leading the index to largely underperform its local mid-cap peer.

Daily Mail and General Trust Plc climbed 3.3% after the founding family and leading investor in the publisher said it was considering taking the group private in a $1.1 billion deal.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index inched 0.1% lower with travel and leisure stocks falling the most.

(Reporting by Shashank Nayar in BengaluruEditing by Subhranshu Sahu and Mark Potter)

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