Broadcaster ITV was propelled up the top flight index amid speculation it is ripe for a takeover.
Shares closed at the highest level since May 2007 as traders bet on it becoming the target of a bid, with the mood buoyed by the recent acquisition of Virgin Media by US giant Liberty Global and US entrepreneur Warren Buffett’s swoop on food giant Heinz.
ITV shares jumped 3% or 3.3p to 120.3p, but it was an otherwise subdued day on London’s FTSE 100 Index which closed down 10 points to 6318.2 with volumes dented as US traders were away from their desks for President’s Day.
Attention turned to Europe where the Italian election continued to play on investors’ minds, with the recent rise in popularity of Silvio Berlusconi highlighting the growing hostility towards austerity.
And president of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi told European lawmakers the 17-country eurozone must move swiftly in setting up a joint fund to restructure and wind down troubled banks, claiming it is needed to stabilise the financial system.
The pound continued to struggle after last week’s stubbornly high inflation figures and a gloomy quarterly report from the Bank of England, with it down against the euro at 1.16 and also down against the US dollar at 1.55.
The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Hammerson up 16.8p to 504p, ITV ahead 3.3p to 120.3p, Aggreko 28p higher at 1708p and Imperial Tobacco up 38p to 2356p.
The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were Eurasian Natural Resources down 12.4p to 390.3p, Anglo American off 56p to 1983p, Kazakhmys 20.5p lower at 726p and Evraz down 6.4p to 283.1p.