September 14, 2018 / 9:17 AM / 7 days ago

FTSE tracks Europe higher on trade hopes; Shire shines

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* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct

* Shire gains after China nod to Takeda deal

* Housebuilders under pressure

* Investec rallies on spin-off plans

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Britain’s top share index tracked higher European markets on Friday with the mood buoyed by easing trade worries, while Shire rose after China cleared Takeda’s plans to buy the drugmaker.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent by 0857 GMT, underpinned by gains among the energy and healthcare sectors, which more than offset weakness among utilities, hit earlier this week by a profit warning from SSE.

“Traders (are) hopeful about U.S.-China trade talks despite President Trump being the fly in the ointment, downplaying prospects for quick negotiations,” Accendo Markets analayst Mike van Dulken said.

Trump said on Thursday that the United States was under no pressure to make a trade deal with China, even as Chinese officials welcomed an invitation from Washington for a new round of talks with more U.S. tariffs looming.

The FTSE was set for a small weekly gain following two consecutive weeks of losses partly due to a rally in the pound on prospects of a Brexit deal with the European Union.

On Friday the pound rose further, touching its highest level since early August. The index, whose constituents make more than two-thirds of their sales abroad, shrugged off the latest move in the pound but it remains down 5.3 percent so far in 2018.

Shire rose 1.5 percent.

Takeda Pharmaceutical said China approved its purchase of Shire, the latest regulator to clear the $62 billion deal and bring the Japanese group closer to becoming a global top 10 drugmaker.

Taked expects the deal to close in the first half of 2019 although it needs shareholder approval to raise the funds to pay for the $62 billion deal.

British housebuilders were under pressure after Bank of England governor Mark Carney was reported in The Times as having told ministers that a no-deal Brexit could cause house prices to fall by 35 percent over three years.

Barrat Developments and Taylor Wimpey were both down around 1 percent, among the top fallers on the FTSE.

Mid-cap Investec rose 8 percent on news it plans to hive off and separately list its asset management unit in a restructuring that comes as the long-serving company founder leaves the financial services group.

“Investec’s plan to spin off its asset management arm looks like a sensible decision as it should allow management more freedom to drive that business forward and not be constrained by having to follow the strategy of the current parent which is predominantly a specialist banking business,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

JD Wetherspoon declined 0.7 percent after the pub chain said it expected higher costs this year even though a record heatwave that brought in more customers lifted its full-year profit. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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