FTSE 100 Friday close: Busy week in the pharmaceutical sector helps blue-chips edge higher

25th April 2014

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The UK’s blue chips gained some ground over the week driven by a spate of activity across the pharmaceutical sector writes Philip Scott.

The FTSE 100 closed on Friday at 6,685.69, 17.31 points down on the day but 1% stronger over the trading week.

Shares in pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca rocketed by 8% to 4,080p on the back of reports that US drugs giant Pfizer is preparing a takeover bid. During the Easter weekend, reports emerged that Pfizer had approached the UK firm about a £60bn takeover and according to a report in The Telegraph, the group has brought in Wall Street behemoths Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to advise it on any fresh takeover move by its larger US rival.

Some positive broker updates alongside rumours of a allegedly rejected takeover bid, sent stock in biopharmaceutical group Shire up 10% to 3,210p, making it the leader-board’s strongest rise over the past week.

Analysts at Citigroup and Jeffries both reiterated ‘buy’ recommendations on the shares while according to a report on Reuters health care group Allergan approached Shire in recent months about a possible takeover only to have its advance reportedly rejected.

Elsewhere medical technology business Smith & Nephew rose 6% to 915p while the news of a joint venture between Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline sent the latter firm’s stock up by 6% to 1,655p.

For its part bookmaker William Hill, reportedly set to close more than 100 shops this year because of the government’s move to up taxes on betting machines firmed 6% to 340p.

Insurer Admiral was another 6% riser, closing at 1,425p while Primark owner Associated British Foods enjoyed a 7% rise to 2,906p, after the clothing retailer reported very positive first-half numbers.

International equipment rental company Ashtead loosened by 5% to 863p, despite both Investec Securities and Liberium Capital reaffirming their respective ‘buy’ stance on the shares.

A repeat of Westhouse Securities’ buy’ did not help the stock of Chilean based miner Antofagasta either which also slipped 5% to 790p.

Other fallers over the week included Barratt Developments down by 4% to 360.2p, British Gas parent Centrica also dropped 4% to 332.7p and Old Mutual lost 3% to finish at 194.6p.

Within the banking sector HSBC witnessed its stock drop 2% to 602.5p as did its Asian competitor Standard Chartered which finished at 1,293.5p. Royal Bank of Scotland closed the week flat at 303.2p while Lloyds, updating the market next week, edged ahead by 1% to 74.84p. Barclays, under fire this week over staff bonuses, also closed 1% up at 248.85p.

Next week sees updates and results arrive from among others BP, British American Tobacco, fashion house Next and BSkyB.

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