The FTSE 100 has ended the day higher with gains of 8.2 points, or 0.15%, to 5,539.8, as it shrugged off weakness at Unilever and amongst oil shares as buoyant drug stocks and mining issues pushed higher.
AstraZeneca, which makes cholesterol treatment Crestor, gained 3.02% to 2,830p, after a US court on Friday ruled in favour of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor.
GlaxoSmithKline joined the advance, adding 1.58% to 1,483p, following the decision that granted patent protection to Pfizer on its blockbuster drug until 2011. It gained further support from news over the weekend regarding its experimental vaccine Cervarix that combats uterine cancer.
BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto also stood out as gold bounced back from last week's sell off. BHP Billiton added 1.48% to 893.5p, while Rio Tinto gained 1.49% to 2,526p.
But Unilever proved a drag, falling 1.72% to 572.5p, on news it is to strengthen its dual-listed structure by making its London and Amsterdam listed shares equal in value and allowing shareholders to nominate board candidates.
Oil stocks also weighed as US crude dropped towards $57 a barrel on forecasts for warmer weather in the US. BP fell 0.48% to 621p, while Royal Dutch Shell slipped 0.27% to 1,835p. Cairn Energy also dropped 0.74% to 1,867p, but shares in BG ended with gains of 1.09% to 557p, as the oil and gas giant unveiled a sharp increase in fourth quarter production.
In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 33.22 points, or 0.31%, to 10.908.81, as oil prices fell and pharmaceutical issues rose on a court ruling upholding Pfizer's patents on the cholesterol drug Lipitor.
Pfizer shares are up 10.98% to $25.06, as a federal judge on Friday upheld the validity of the drugmaker's Lipitor patents, blocking a generic version of the medicine that had threatened the company's largest source of revenue.
Merck, another drugmaker, has also gained 7.23% to $32.18, while Schering-Plough has gained 5.01% to $20.76, as Citigroup raised its price target on Pfizer to $26 from $24, and on Merck to $31 from $29.
In earnings news, No. 2 US electronics chain Circuit City Stores has gained 5.55% to $22.43, as they reported a quarterly profit that beat analysts' estimates, reversing a year-earlier loss.
Meanwhile, shares of Microsoft are down 0.78% to $26.69, while Google is up 3.21% to $443.94, after sources said Google is close to signing a deal to buy a 5% stake in Time Warner’s AOL Internet unit for $1bn. A deal would shut out Microsoft, which was seeking its own arrangement with AOL. Time Warner also added 0.56% to $18.10.IFAonline
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