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Markets: FTSE inches to new post-pandemic high as Vectura takeover draws closer

·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
POLAND - 2021/07/12: In this photo illustration a Vectura logo seen displayed on a smartphone with stock market percentages in the background. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
In this photo illustration a Vectura logo seen displayed on a smartphone with stock market percentages in the background. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Stock markets in Europe rose modestly to hit new highs on Friday morning, overlooking weakness in Asia overnight.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was up 0.3% in London shortly after the open. The modest rally pushed the blue chip index to a fresh 18-month high in early trade, having first reached fresh post-pandemic highs earlier in the week.

The DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.1% higher in Frankfurt, returning to record-high levels. The CAC (^FCHI) was also at an all-time high, gaining 0.2% in Paris.

Stock markets in Europe have been buoyed by economic reopening and increasing optimism about the ability of vaccines to control the COVID-19 pandemic. There was little in the way of major economic or corporate news on Friday morning to drive sentiment.

In Britain, the board of inhaler-maker Vectura (VEC.L) said late on Thursday they were unanimously backing a £1.1bn takeover bid from Marlboro-maker Philip Morris International (PM). The deal has proved highly controversial due to the apparent conflict of a tobacco company owning a medical business. Vectura shares rose half a percent in early trade to change hands at 164p, just below Philip Morris' 165p-a-share bid.

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In Germany, shares in Adidas (ADS.DE) rose 1.7% after the sportswear giant announced plans to offload its Reebok brand. Adidas is selling the division to the Authentic Brands Group for $2.5bn — over $1bn less than it bought Reebok for in 2006.

US markets ground out small gains on Thursday and indexes were unchanged in early futures trade. Shares in Disney (DIS) rose overnight after the entertainment giant beat forecasts with third quarter numbers thanks to a boom in business at its streaming service Disney+.

Markets were lower across most of Asia overnight. Japan's Nikkei (^N225) lost 0.1%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) fell 0.9%, and the South Korean KOSPI (^KS11) dropped 1.2%. 

It came as China took the decision to close the world's third busiest port due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Bloomberg reported that the Ningbo-Zhoushan port had been closed, which is likely to exacerbate global supply chain issues. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) fell 0.2% and the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) dropped 0.7%.

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