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British midcaps hit record high; Equiniti Group shines

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British midcaps hit record high; Equiniti Group shines 1

By Devik Jain

(Reuters) -British shares rose on Monday, with midcaps hitting a record high, as gains in industrials and consumer discretionary stocks underpinned the market, while shares of Equiniti Group jumped on a non-binding acquisition proposal.

The British outsourcer jumped 13.8% after U.S. private equity firm Siris Capital tabled a 624.3 million pounds ($864.59 million) bid in an all-cash deal.

The blue-chip index edged 0.1% higher in choppy trading, with gains being capped by a 0.8% decline in heavyweight energy shares as they tracked lower oil prices. [O/R]

AstraZeneca rose 0.4%, and was among the biggest boost to the FTSE 100 after the Philippines said it will resume administering drugmaker's COVID-19 vaccine to people below 60 years of age.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index also gained 0.4% to touch a record high.

"Markets are back to being a bit dull for now but pretty buoyant," Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid wrote in a note.

"It's a lighter week ahead, with the main highlight likely to be at the end of the week with the flash PMIs for April … And there'll be particular attention on the price gauges as well as investors stay attuned to any signs of growing inflationary pressures."

With the FTSE 100 gaining 8.7% year-to-date and UK vaccine rollout continuing to progress, markets will have a chance to gauge the impact on the economy as employment data, retail sales, CPI, PPI, and flash April PMIs are all due this week.

Meanwhile, homebuilders added 0.6% after property website Rightmove said advertised prices for homes in Britain hit a record high after finance minister Rishi Sunak stoked the market again by extending a tax-cut for home-buyers last month.

Johnson Matthey rose 0.9% after the chemicals company signed a long-term agreement with Russian metals producer Nornickel for the supply of nickel and cobalt to produce materials used to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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