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Shire stumbles as FTSE rounds off a positive quarter

Britain’s FTSE 100 makes a 3.5% gain in the first quarter of 2012 as biopharmaceutical group Shire falls following a failed drug trial.

 
Shire stumbles as FTSE rounds off a positive quarter

Markets made cautious gains as eurozone finance ministers agreed to boost the region’s bailout package.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.46%, or 27 points, to 5,768 and the Mid-250 index added 0.64%, or 108 points, to 11,539. See the FTSE’s performance and the index’s top risers and fallers.

The benchmark UK index of blue-chip shares closed the first quarter of 2012 some 3.5%, or 196 points, ahead of where it started in January. The recovery weakened in March following the first quarter’s high of 5,966 points in the middle of the month. 

Biopharmaceutical group Shire (SHP.L) lost 93p, or 4.4%, to hit £20.25, making it the FTSE 100's biggest faller as trials of its bowel drug Lialda ended in failure.

Ministers agree to increase eurozone bailout fund

European finance ministers agreed to increase the eurozone bailout fund to €500 billion in an attempt to contain the region’s sovereign debt crisis. It is hoped that non-eurozone International Monetary Fund (IMF) nations will provide a similar amount of money. However, the package is not the ‘mother of all firewalls’ that has been called for by the OECD to support the region.

David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index, said: ‘Once the first quarter is out of the way, it is likely that attention will refocus itself on Europe, where tensions are once again on the rise. Today’s summit is not expected to produce any fireworks, with an increase to the general bailout fund announced earlier today, while Spain appears to have knuckled down to its tasks with a tough new austerity budget.’

Other stock markets in Europe also rose: Germany’s DAX index took on 1.04% to 6,947, France's CAC 40 index added 1.26% to 3,424, and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares took on 0.94% to 1,069.

In the US consumer confidence rose to its highest level in 13 months, with a reading of 76.2, up from 75.3 in February, as sentiment about jobs and incomes improved.

Stateside markets also rose as the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% to 13,198, the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.3% to 1,408, and the Nasdaq Composite index increased 0.11% to 3,099.

Indian government threatens Vodafone

Citywire Top Stock Vodafone (VOD.L) slipped 2p, or 1.1%, to 172.5p as the Indian government threatened to impose a retroactive tax on its profits despite a court ruling in the company’s favour earlier this month. 

Diploma (DPLM.L) increased 23.7p, or 5.6%, to 444p as group revenues for the first half of 2012 are expected to be 12% ahead of 2011, and analysts at Panmure Gordon raised their target price on the stock from 400p to 440p.

Sweetener-maker Tate & Lyle (TATE.L) added 10p, or 1.4%, to 705p as it reported strong results in the final quarter of 2011, with growth expected to boost its full-year results.

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