* FTSE 100 up 0.8 pct
* Pharma sector lifts broader market
* AstraZeneca surges on reported Pfizer bid interest
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 22 Merger and acquisition activity
in the pharmaceutical sector drove Britain's top equity index
higher on Tuesday, pushing it to its best level in nearly two
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up by 0.8 percent,
or 54.77 points, at 6,680.32 points in early trading.
Drugmaker AstraZeneca surged 8.1 percent, with
trading volumes in the stock well above those for the index
after the Sunday Times newspaper reported a 60 billion pound
($101 billion) approach from U.S. peer Pfizer.
Both companies declined to comment. Analysts at Citigroup
said in a research note they expected Pfizer "to push
aggressively ahead with a second approach."
Rival drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline rose 4.4 percent
after exchanging assets with Swiss peer Novartis,
while the general mood dragged rival Shire up 4.8
The FTSE 100 hit a peak of 6,867 points in late January,
which marked its highest level since early 2000, but has since
slipped back due to concerns over a slump in emerging markets
economies and tensions between Russia and Western powers over
McLaren Securities' managing director Terry Torrison said
the activity in the pharmaceuticals sector would help the market
progress, along with solid quarterly results from major U.S.
"We've got steady earnings coming out of the U.S., and the
mergers and acquisition news doesn't do us any harm either,"
($1 = 0.5951 British Pounds)
(Editing by John Stonestreet)