Cadbury drives FTSE rise

Drinks and confectionery group Cadbury Schweppes helped steer an advance for the London market today after reports surfaced indicating private equity groups could be interested in its US beverages business.

Drinks and confectionery group Cadbury Schweppes helped steer an advance for the London market today after reports surfaced indicating private equity groups could be interested in its US beverages business.

Shares in the group jumped almost 3%, or 17.5p to 691p amid the speculation that the business could fetch as much as £8bn (€11.7bn), even before Cadbury has separated its operations.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 43.8 points at 6623.1 by mid-morning buoyed by an advance for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after it broke through the 13500 barrier for the first time.

Uncertainty over trading conditions this summer saw British Airways top the fallers board, as shares dived more than 3%.

The stock was 16p lower at 485.5p after BA said it had seen some weakness in non-premium trading segments, most notably on North Atlantic routes.

High oil prices meant energy companies were propping up the Footsie, with BP up 12.5p at 583p and Royal Dutch Shell ahead 34p at 1893p.

A broker upgrade from Credit Suisse sent More Than insurer Royal & Sun Alliance climbing 4.8p to 173.6p.

Barclays was trading 11p higher at 725.5p after it received permission from the Reserve Bank of India to open three branches in the country. It will now launch its retail banking services in India, where it already has a presence with its investment banking arm, Barclays Capital.

Meanwhile, retailers suffered after HSBC issued a downgrade on the sector saying it expects the pressure on household income to accelerate in the second half of the year.

B&Q owner Kingfisher fell 3.25p to 257.75p, Marks & Spencer was off 7p to 734p and Currys owner DSG International slipped 1.5p to 170.5p.

In the second-tier, Galiform shares rose as the furniture business said it had continued to progress following the disposal of the MFI retail arm last year.

The group, which now consists of a manufacturing and joinery business, gained 1.5p to 160.5p.

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