AstraZeneca was the day's stand-out performer, up by more than 15 per cent this afternoon after US pharma giant Pfizer confirmed that it had made a 'preliminary, non-binding indication of interest' regarding a possible merger in January. The 60bn pound proposal was rejected by AstraZeneca's board but Pfizer said it is considering its next move.
After Pfizer's initial proposal was rejected and Astra declined to engage in further talks this month, the US group said it is "currently considering its options". Pfizer said that any potential transaction would offer AstraZeneca's shareholders a "highly compelling opportunity to realise a significant premium" to the recent share price and would include a "substantial" cash payment.
Other companies in the pharmaceutical sector were also performing well today as a result, including Shire and GlaxoSmithKline.
William Hill was another strong riser, aided by comments from Beaufort Securities, which reiterated its 'buy' rating on the betting firm following Friday's trading update. The gains also come ahead of a review due out Wednesday on fixed-odds betting terminals, which are expected to be softer than previously anticipated.
Precious metals miner Randgold Resources was higher after it welcomed a new mining code in Côte d'Ivoire, which it hopes will draw global investors and accelerate the country's emergence as a significant gold producer. The new mining code, which was developed by the government in close collaboration with the mining industry, covers areas such as exploration permits, tax incentives and nationality requirements.
Meanwhile, cyclical stocks such as miners and banks were dragging on the FTSE, with the market notably subdued after US President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against Russian officials in a bid to deter Moscow from further 'escalating' the crisis. Rio Tinto and Royal Bank of Scotland were both notable fallers.
Investors in Reckitt Benckiser Group ignored guidance from Nomura to buy the stock, and in doing the opposite sent the share price more than 2% lower in afternoon trade.
Gas giant BG Group delivered a double blow to investors on Monday as it announced the departure of Chief Executive Chris Finlayson, warned its 2014 production levels would be at the lower end of expectations - due to challenges in Egypt. The group said its 2014 production guidance remained unchanged at 590,000 - 630,000 boed, although production is now expected to be at the lower end of the range given the issues in Egypt. The deterioration in Egypt will similarly impact 2015 production.
FTSE 100 - Risers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 4,696.50p +15.11%
William Hill (WMH) 349.10p +2.68%
Shire Plc (SHP) 3,283.00p +2.27%
SABMiller (SAB) 3,183.50p +1.68%
Fresnillo (FRES) 862.00p +1.41%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 326.60p +1.40%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 298.40p +1.36%
British Land Co (BLND) 689.00p +1.17%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 96.90p +1.10%
Tesco (TSCO) 302.10p +0.90%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,208.00p -2.15%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,854.00p -2.10%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 296.90p -2.08%
Ashtead Group (AHT) 847.50p -1.80%
Travis Perkins (TPK) 1,757.00p -1.73%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 880.00p -1.73%
St James's Place (STJ) 766.00p -1.67%
Royal Mail (RMG) 511.00p -1.64%
Capita (CPI) 1,065.00p -1.57%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,299.00p -1.44%