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FTSE advances, helped by pharma stocks

04/04/2016 | 12:05pm

LONDON (Reuters) - British shares edged higher on Monday, buoyed by a rise in pharmaceutical firms, which helped the index to gain for the first time this quarter.

Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index <.FTSE> closed up 18.67 points, or 0.3 percent at 6,164.72 points, snapping a two-session losing run, which had seen it close out the first quarter with a 1.1 percent fall to start 2016.

Monday's rise failed to recoup a 0.5 percent drop in the previous session, the first trading day of the second quarter.

The index remained in a range of around 200 points which has persisted since the start of March, and volumes were thin.

Pharmaceutical stocks added the most points to the index, led by Shire (>> Shire PLC).

It rose 2.9 percent after it announced positive results for a trial of an ADHD treatment.

Travel and leisure stocks also gained after Irish-listed Ryanair Holdings (>> Ryanair Holdings plc) posted a jump in March traffic figures.

British Airways owner IAG (>> International Consolidated Airlns Grp SA) rose 0.8 percent and mid-cap Wizz Air (>> Wizz Air Holdings PLC) advanced 3.8 percent, with analysts citing a weaker oil price as also supporting the sector.

Tui <TUIT.L> missed out on gains, down 2.8 percent after UBS cut its target price on the sector.

Retailer Marks and Spencer (>> Marks and Spencer Group Plc) rose 0.8 percent after broker Peel Hunt upgraded its rating to "buy" from "hold" and raised its target price.

Worldpay Group (>> Worldpay Group PLC) rose 1 percent, with its shares rebounding after a 10 percent droup in the first quarter.

The payments-processing firm had been under pressure after results last month disappointed the market, but traders said that fundamentals remained strong.

"Markets were uninspired by what management described an ‘in-line’ start to 2016 and thus less bullish than shareholders had been hoping for ... (however) the fundamentals for the company are ... pretty solid as we move toward a cashless society," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.

Paper and packaging company Mondi (>> Mondi Plc) fell 2.5 percent after the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of the Russian Federation said it had initiated an investigation into Mondi Syktyvkar over the pricing of offset paper.

Mondi said it had not yet received any FAS notification.

Downgrades by investment bank Credit Suisse weighed on car insurer Admiral Group (>> Admiral Group plc) and Rolls-Royce Holdings (>> Rolls-Royce Holding PLC), which fell 1.3 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

By Alistair Smout

© Reuters 2022
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