Around the World's Markets: London

LONDON SHARES closed sharply higher yesterday as rumours of large mergers in the telecom sector continued to sweep the market.

The FTSE 100 index closed 75.6 higher at 6,503.6, less than 12 points from its all-time high, in unusually low turnover of about 900m. The blue- chips' rally did not feed through to the mid-cap, which ended just 4.1 higher at 5,788.6. The Small Cap fared better, finishing 11.7 up at 2,533.9, another 1999 record. Market report, page 17