AstraZeneca lifts FTSE 100 to its best session in one week

By Reuters

<div> <p>By Bansari Mayur Kamdar, Shashank Nayar and Amal S</p> <p> -London’s <span class="caps">FTSE</span> 100 ended higher on Wednesday, as AstraZeneca boosted healthcare stocks on completing a takeover deal to sharpen its focus on rare-disease drugs. </p> <p>AstraZeneca rose 4.2% and was the top boost to the blue-chip <span class="caps">FTSE</span> 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.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">FTSE</span> 100 rose 1.1% to mark its best day in a week. <span class="caps">HSBC</span> 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%.</p> <p>The blue-chip index has risen 10.1% so far this year on highly accommodative central bank policies and optimism around steady <span class="caps">COVID</span>-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.</p> <p>“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. </p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>The domestically focussed mid-cap index advanced 0.1%, with travel and leisure stocks among the top gainers.</p> <p>Among stocks, clothing retailer Next Plc rose 3.9% after raising its full-year profit guidance.</p> <p>Upper Crust owner <span class="caps">SSP</span> Group fell 5.4% over a slow recovery as sales remained at half of the pre-pandemic levels.</p> <p>Morrisons gained 1.4% on report that a $9.5-billion fight for the British supermarket will be decided at an auction on Saturday. </p> </div>