StockMarketWire.com - Utility companies were in demand after broker Exane issued a research note on takeovers and breakups which included reference National Grid (NG.) and other sector players.

United Utilities (UU.) surged 8.3% to 724p and Severn Trent (SVT) rallied 6.1% at £18.48.

National Grid sparked 5.5% higher to 805.3p and British Gas owner Centrica (CNA) gained 2.9% to 141.4p.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.6% higher at 7,044.

Brent crude oil dipped 1.5% to $69 per barrel. Gold reversed 1% to $1,327 per ounce and copper was down 0.1% at $2.99 per pound.

Rare diseases specialist Shire (SHP) remained the top riser, climbing 14% to £35 on news of takeover interest from Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical.

In UK corporate news, embattled sofas seller DFS Furniture (DFS) said trading had recently picked up. Investors were relieved that full year guidance and the half year dividend were untouched despite a squeeze in big ticket spending, pushing the shares 8.3% higher to 184.2p.

Markets trading business NEX (NXG) jumped 10.2% to 975.7p on chatter that futures trading group CME was about to firm up a takeover offer, having recently confirmed early stage talks.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

A weaker performance from financial and technology stocks kept Wall Street in the red, with the exception of the Dow Jones, up 25.9 points at 23,883 around 5pm UK time.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Distributor Diploma (DPLM) enjoyed robust trading in the six months to 31 March, helping the shares rise 4.4% to £11.68.

The resignation of Saga's (SAGA) financial director Jonathan Hill weighed on the stock, down 0.9% at 112.5p. He is leaving to join bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB).

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Retail meat packer Hilton Food (HFG) beat forecasts with its latest annual results as pre-tax profit rose 7.9% to £37.4m in 2017. The stock fattened 3.9% to 800p.

Cash shell Gloo Networks (GLOO) plummeted 65.4% to 33p after reporting it is no longer pursuing a reverse takeover.

A new farm-out agreement for Lansdowne Oil and Gas (LOGP) excited investors as the shares soared 32% to 1.7p.

Media business Time Out (TMO) delivered strong e-commerce growth as it continued to transition from a focus on listings to transactions, but higher costs kept the shares flat at 130p.


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