The FTSE 100 is off to a good start to the week with gains of 12.5 points, or 0.23%, to 5,544.1, with drug stocks leading the advance in response to news a US judge has upheld key patents on Pfizer's Lipitor cholesterol drug.
AstraZeneca, which makes the Crestor cholesterol treatment, has risen 65p, or 2.37%, to 2,812p, while GlaxoSmithKline has gained 30p, or 2.05%, to 1,490p, as the US ruling handed Pfizer patent protection on the world's best-selling drug until June 2011, dealing a blow to generic drug makers.
Elsewhere, Kazakhstan miner Kazakhmys, entering the FTSE 100 for the first time since its October flotation, has fallen 8p, or 1.16%, to 680p, after it said copper cathode production in the first nine months of the year was in line with expectations.
Housebuilder Persimmon, which is also making its FTSE debut, has added 4p, or 0.33%, to 1,234p.
Meanwhile, Dairy Crest has advanced 51p, or 10.57%, to 533.5p, after reports that French firm Groupe Lactalis had held detailed talks with the firm over a possible £800m takeover.
In Japan the Nikei 225 Stock Average rose 218.41, or 1.4%, to 15,391.48 at its close a short time ago, as the dollar rebounded against the yen and oil prices fell, with exporters such as Canon pacing the advance.
The rebound in the dollar against the yen today pushed shares of companies that rely on US sales higher.
Honda Motor, which had more than half of its sales generated in the US, rose 100 yen, or 1.5%, to 6,670, while Toyota Motor, the world's most valuable carmaker, gained 50 yen, or 0.9%, to 5,740. Meanwhile, Canon, the world's largest seller of digital cameras, also gained 120 yen, or 1.8%, to 6,960, as the company generated almost 75% of its sales from overseas last year.
Elsewhere, drugmakers dropped, after reports Japan will cut its contribution to the public health care system by 3.2%, the most ever, to force patients to shoulder more of the costs and reduce medical spending.
Takeda, Japan's largest drugmaker, fell 50 yen, or 0.8%, to 6,380, while Astellas Pharma, the second biggest, declined 20 yen, or 0.4%, to 4,520.
In the US on Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6.08 points, or 0.06%, at 10,875.59, as major oil company stocks slid following a drop of nearly $2 a barrel in crude oil and after software maker Oracle posted a lower profit.
Lower oil pulled down shares of Chevron, which fell 2.6% to $57.51 and Exxon Mobil, which slid 2.4% to $58.06. US crude dropped $1.93 to $58.06 a barrel on forecasts for milder weather.
Meanwhile, Oracle shares slid 1.1% to end at $12.69, while United Technologies rose 0.8% to $58.03 after CIBC raised its rating on the conglomerate, citing strong confidence in 2006 growth.
Shares of General Motors also slid 1.1% to $21.89, as Citigroup's chief executive said it was hard for him to see the largest US bank buying General Motors Acceptance, the financing unit of the world's largest carmaker.IFAonline
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