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FTSE flirts with 14-year high as housebuilders provide boost

FTSE 100 briefly hits 14-year high before retreating. Housebuilders and AstraZeneca among risers as Pfizer hints at bigger offer. 

 
FTSE flirts with 14-year high as housebuilders provide boost

The FTSE 100 has touched a 14-year high in a day of chopping trading where housebuilders have led momentum, supported by AstraZeneca as US rival Pfizer hinted it could bid more for the pharmaceutical giant.

The FTSE 100 briefly reached 6,877 this morning, the highest level in more than 14 years, but has since lost ground. The UK blue-chip index is now up 12 points, or 0.2% on the day, at 6,864. With dividends included, the FTSE is up around 3% since the start of the year, having recovered from falls in February and April.

Barratt Developments (BDEV), led the index higher, up 2.9% to 385p, followed by Persimmon (PSN), up 2.6% at £13.95, after smaller rival Taylor Wimpey (TW) soared 5.7% on good results.

Engineers and component manufacturers also gained with Melrose Industries (MRON), GKN (GKN) and Rolls-Royce (RR) dominating the leaders' list.

AstraZeneca (AZN) gained 88.5p or 1.9% to £46.99 as Pfizer hinted it could raise its £50 per share offer for the British drugs company. Pfizer chief executive Ian Read this morning laid out the case for its takeover of Astra before MPs. Speaking before the House of Commons business committee, Read said the proposed takeover was was an opportunity 'to bring the strength of the combined portfolios and to bring our financial strength into the Uk and globally'.  

EasyJet (EZJ) dived 4.6% to £16.51 despite cutting pre-tax losses by 13% to £53 million in the six months to 31 March. The first half of the year is a period in which the budget airline normally runs a loss. It said a ‘ruthless focus on cost’ meant it was well placed for the second half of the year.

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