* FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent
* Glaxo falls after fraud office opens criminal
* Smith & Nephew spikes on bid rumours, subsequently denied
* Weir retreats after walking away from Metso
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, May 28 Britain's top shares struggled to
gain ground on Wednesday, with GlaxoSmithKline falling
after UK authorities launched a criminal investigation into its
The drugmaker fell 1.6 percent on the fraud office probe,
which poses a new challenge for the firm, already facing claims
of bribery in China and four other countries.
Traders, however, bet that Glaxo's losses would be limited.
"As much as the allegations are serious, at this stage that
is all they are (- allegations)," said Jordan Hiscott, senior
trader at ayondo markets, who reckoned on the share price
bottoming out around current levels on the probe news.
Among other big movers, Smith & Nephew jumped 17.5
percent to a record high of 1,120 pence on rumours U.S. medical
devices manufacturer Stryker Corp intended to make a bid
for its UK rival.
But the shares lost ground after Stryker's denial to close
up just 4.3 percent.
Engineering group Weir also retraced gains made
earlier in the session - after it abandoned efforts to acquire
rival Metso when the Finnish company rejected a
second, improved takeover bid.
Investors, who had been concerned the UK firm might overpay,
expressed relief that the bid had been snubbed, before shifting
their attention to the possibility of another planned takeover
that could engender further uncertainty. Weir's shares fell 0.8
"That might have opened Weir's hand in terms of its
acquisitive nature. In other words, even if this Metso thing
isn't going to happen, that's not to say they won't be looking
elsewhere potentially," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at
The FTSE 100 closed up 6.28 points, or 0.1 percent,
at 6,851.22 points and is now just 0.6 percent shy of May's 2014
That peak is the last resistance level before all-time highs
set in December 1999. Wednesday's trade saw the index move
within 1.5 percent of its highest-ever level.
The FTSE is lagging other European indexes including
Germany's DAX, which has hit record highs this year.
Valerie Gastaldy, who heads technical analysis firm Day By
Day, said it was too early to tell whether the FTSE's recent
slim gains were the start of a challenge for new 2014 highs, and
noted that the move was made in low volumes.
"With those limitations, we do favour a new high on the FTSE
100 at around 6,945 in June," she said.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout, Sudip Kar-Gupta and
Francesco Canepa; Editing by Susan Fenton)