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GSK leads FTSE to gains after rebuffing Unilever move

London’s top flight ended the day 68.28 points, or 0.91%, higher at 7,611.23 points.


GSK was among the strongest on the index (PA)

GSK was among the strongest on the index (PA)

GSK was among the strongest on the index (PA)

The FTSE 100 struck its latest pandemic high after it was lifted by strong trading in Asia and a leap for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK was among the strongest on the index after weekend confirmation that fellow FTSE firm Unilever had a roughly £50 billion approach for its consumer health business knocked back.

Unilever investors were less happy about the news, but the takeover interest helped boost the price of other listed consumer firms.

London’s top flight ended the day 68.28 points, or 0.91%, higher at 7,611.23 points.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been a quiet but positive start to the week for markets in Europe, after Asia markets largely got the week off to a positive start, after the People’s Bank of China unexpectedly eased monetary policy.

“The FTSE 100 has had another good day, moving above the 7,600 level, to another post-lockdown high, helped largely by M&A activity with the weekend news of Unilever’s bid for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer goods business, reinforcing the truth that a lot of companies on the UK’s benchmark index are seriously undervalued.”

GSK investors, who have been expecting the consumer spin-off to float later this year, were boosted by the confirmation of takeover offers. It sent the firm’s shares 66.8p higher to 1,707.8p.

However, Unilever was greeted by criticism from analysts, such as brokers at Barclays who downgraded its stock in response.

The Marmite and Dove soap manufacturer finished the day 274.5p lower at 3,662p.

Meanwhile, Europe’s other major markets were also in the green on Monday as they soaked up positive trading sentiment from Asia while Wall Street was on hold due to the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday.

The German Dax increased by 0.34% and the French Cac rose by 0.93%.

Elsewhere, sterling was calm amid the closure of the US markets, as the pound stayed flat versus the US dollar at 1.364, and decreased 0.01% against the euro at 1.196.

In company news, housebuilder Taylor Wimpey climbed after it said a spike in the price of its homes fully made up for the soaring costs of staff and building materials.

Taylor Wimpey’s boss said the firm delivered an “excellent performance” last year, and that demand remains strong for the company’s newly-built homes, which became £12,000 more expensive.

The company saw shares rise by 6.45p to 160.4p at the close of play.

Cyber security company Darktrace slid in value after criticism from short-seller ShadowFall that its business model is “watery-thin” and will not stand the test of time.

Darktrace closed 31.4p lower at 413.2p after the hedge fund said the company’s addressable market is nowhere near as large as its bosses claim.

The price of oil kept up its recent momentum to strike a new three-year high but then stagnated later in the trading day as Libya reported an increase in output.

Brent crude increased by 0.24% to 86.27 dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Taylor Wimpey, up 6.45p at 160.4p; Admiral, up 130p at 3,241p; Antofagasta, up 57.5p at 1,436.5p; and GSK, up 66.8p at 1,707.8p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Unilever, down 274.5p at 3,662p; Flutter, down 150p at 11,125p; Evraz, down 6.8p at 573p; and Polymetal, down 8.5p at 1,154p.