* FTSE 100 index rises 0.4 percent
* Shire surges on report of new takeover bid
* St. James's Place gains on positive update
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 29 Britain's top share index
climbed to a seven-week high on Tuesday, boosted by merger and
acquisition news and positive updates from companies such as
Whitbread and St. James's Place.
British drugmaker Shire jumped more than 3 percent,
the biggest percentage gainer on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index
, after Reuters reported that Botox-maker Allergan Inc
was preparing a fresh takeover approach.
British wealth manager St. James's Place was up 2.1 percent
after saying improved confidence among retail investors helped
it get a strong start in 2014. Whitbread, the owner of Britain's
Premier Inn hotel and Costa Coffee chains, rose 2 percent after
posting a 16.5 percent rise in full-year profit.
"Investors are waiting to see the start of some positive
earnings momentum, which has been missing in recent years. Any
sign of a positive momentum is likely to support share prices,"
James Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts, said.
"We are also witnessing the biggest indicative M&A
activities since the credit crisis, highlighting that corporate
confidence is improving," he added. "A further rise in the GDP
numbers would suggest that the economy is back on a stronger
recovery path, confirming the strong PMI data."
Investors keenly awaited Britain's gross domestic product
figures, due at 0830 GMT, which are likely to show that the
country notched up its fastest economic growth in nearly four
years in the first three months of 2014.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said in an interview
published on Tuesday that Britain's economic recovery was
starting to broaden and there were early signs it would be
The FTSE index was up 0.4 percent at 6,726.22 points by 0758
GMT after hitting an intra-day high of 6,751.06 points, the
highest level since early March.
Among other movers, oil major BP rose 0.9 percent
after posting quarterly profit slightly above forecasts and
raising its dividend for the second time in six months, in line
with an earlier pledge to focus on returning more cash to
(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Andrew Heavens)