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Earnings, M&A Chatter Lift FTSE 100 to Record High, Entain Tumbles

  • Stanchart surges on report of FAD Bank pressing ahead with bid
  • Entain tumbles as MGM says "moved on" amid M&A speculation
  • Watches of Switzerland Group slumps after quarterly trading update
  • FTSE 100 up 0.7%, FTSE 250 adds 0.1%

Feb 9 (Reuters) - UK's FTSE 100 hit an all-time high on Thursday, buoyed by a slate of upbeat earnings and merger talks tied to Standard Chartered, while Entain shares tumbled on news U.S. casino operator MGM was ending talks to takeover the betting firm.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 rose 0.7% to touch a record high of 7,943.68, while the midcap FTSE 250 index inched up 0.1%.

AstraZeneca jumped 4.3%, set for its best day in nearly a year, after the drugmaker forecast earnings growth in 2023.

Unilever rose 0.4% after the consumer goods giant reported quarterly underlying sales growth above expectations.

Standard Chartered jumped 9.0% to the top of FTSE 100 after Bloomberg News reported that First Abu Dhabi Bank is pressing ahead with an all-cash bid of $30 billion-$35 billion for the Asia-focussed bank.

"Investors have been looking towards the UK market over the last year as an attractive geography in the search for potential takeover targets, given the depreciation of the pound and the corresponding increased attractiveness of sterling-priced valuations," said Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

"The recent revival of the pound could spur investors to move quickly as valuations become richer again."

Entain tumbled 10.1% after MGM's chief executive officer said on Wednesday that the company had "moved on" from the gambling firm amid speculation of a takeover.

"We see a short-term negative Entain share price reaction given the prolonged period of discussion about the possibility of an MGM/Entain combination," Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

British American Tobacco fell 5.6% after it reported full-year results and said it expects to complete the sale of its Russian business to its local partner in 2023.

Watches of Switzerland Group (WoS) slumped 13.1% after it gave its quarterly trading update.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

Source: Reuters

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