* FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent
* Shire advances on hopes for improved bid
* EasyJet falls; BofA ML cuts to "underperform"
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, June 30 UK shares inched up on Monday,
led by Shire on expectations of a higher offer for the
drugmaker from U.S. suitor AbbVie.
Shares in Shire advanced 1.6 percent, the top
blue-chip riser, following media reports that AbbVie's boss is
set to fly to London this week to court Shire's shareholders and
attempt to convince them of the merits of a potential takeover.
This could culminate in an increased bid, traders said, with
Shire having spurned a $46 billion takeover offer from AbbVie as
"They're pretty committed to getting this working and it's
obvious they're going to have to pay up for it, so I imagine
there will be a higher offer coming," Joe Rundle, head of
trading at ETX Capital, said.
Trading volume in Shire was robust, at half of its 90-day
daily average after just an hour's trade, against the FTSE 100
on just 9 percent of its average.
Budget airline easyJet was the worst performer on
the FTSE 100, off 4.5 percent, as BofA Merrill Lynch cut its
rating on the stock to "underperform" from "neutral", with
earnings headwinds likely to pressure stock price performance.
"We believe the consensus EPS upgrade story is over at
easyJet, as negative yield momentum will cause confidence in the
upgrade cycle to shatter," BofA ML analysts wrote in a note.
The broader FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent at 6,764.28
points by 0810 GMT, meaning it is broadly flat this year,
against a rise of around 4 percent seen from the euro zone's
Euro STOXX 50.
Britain's underperformance against the rest of Europe has
been exacerbated by further monetary easing in the euro zone,
which has strengthened the pound in comparison to the euro,
having an impact on exporters.
This has seen the FTSE 100 remain in a 200 point range since
the start of May, while other European indexes have pushed up to
multi-year highs, bolstered by stimulus from the European
And, with interest rate rises in Britain remaining on the
horizon as the country's economy grows robustly, investors are
reluctant to place big bets on the market.
"I would not be in a rush to buy with the next move in rates
up and a strong sterling hurting exporters," Lex van Dam, hedge
fund manager at Hampstead Capital, said.
(Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Alison Williams)