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FTSE edges up, boosted by Compass, Vodafone

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Apr 10 (Reuters) Britain's leading share index hovered near par on Monday, boosted by gains in Compass after the world's biggest caterer agreed to sell its travel concession unit to groups of investors.

The benchmark index's rise was supported by strength in Vodafone , whose shares rose 0.8 percent after JP Morgan upped its rating on the stock to ''neutral''. The Daily Mail reported that a consortium including Verizon , Telefonica and private equity firm Blackstone hope to find funding for a 160p/share Vodafone bid.

By 0728 GMT the FTSE 100 was down 0.9 points at 6,025, pausing after Friday's dip after strong economic data fuelled concerns that there may be further interest rate rises in the United States.

Fellow market heavyweight GlaxoSmithKline also featured on the upside, in part boosted by relief it would not be buying Serono after the Swiss biotech company called off a 5-month search for a suitor after the controlling Bertarelli family dismissed takeover offers it had received as too low.

''Drugs are strong on the back of the dollar move and it is more of a defensive name, after Friday's sell-off,'' said one dealer.

''There is interest from the Serono news, but most people had expected Glaxo and Novartis not to be involved anyway.'' REUTERS PV DS1341

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