Market Report: The $13bn purchase of Biomet by rival Zimmer stokes speculation about further deals in the sector

The FTSE 100 index closed at its highest level in more than six weeks yesterday, amid speculation that blockbuster deals could be in the pipeline. The $13.4bn purchase of US medical equipment supplier Biomet by rival Zimmer stoked speculation about further deals in the sector, with artificial hip-to-sports medicine group Smith & Nephew seen as a likely target. The latter’s shares leapt 29.5p to 909p amid talks that Johnson & Johnson or Stryker could make a play for it.

Pharmaceuticals stocks continued to climb thanks to merger and acquisitions talk: AstraZeneca was up 132.5p to 4175p, despite playing down speculation that US rival Pfizer could return for a second bid.

The Footsie reached an early afternoon high of 6724.48, but news of deaths in Ukraine sparked a pull-back and the index closed up 28.26 points at 6703,

Despite what looked like a strong trading update, the building supplies group Travis Perkins fell 69p to 1763p, with investors wary of easy comparative numbers and fears that margins could be under pressure.

The microchip designer Imagination Technologies rallied thanks to better-than-expected results from Apple Computer in the US. Imagination is one of the few companies publicly named as Apple suppliers and strong iPhone sales helped its shares to rise by 13.6p to 197.4p.

The Egyptian gold-miner Centamin jumped 6.55p to 62.5p after announcing that a new law banning legal challenges of government contacts with outside investors could end a long-standing case there. The FTSE 250 operator has faced a legal challenge over its right to work its Sukari mine since 2012.

The small-cap miner Kenmare Resources was on the march, up 1.25p at 13.5p, after revealing strong rises in titanium production and shipments, and a generator deal with Aggreko which will make Kenmare less susceptible to power cuts in Mozambique.

Shares in the Aim-listed Bahamas Petroleum closed 1.46p higher at to 2.95p after it revealed that former BP country manager Bill Schrader and James Smith, a ex-member of the Bahamas’ finance ministry and Senate, are both joining as non-executive directors.

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