FTSE 100 continues record run, Darktrace rallies on buyout deal

FILE PHOTO: A worker shelters from the rain as he passes the London Stock Exchange in London

By Pranav Kashyap, Sruthi Shankar and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -Britain's benchmark FTSE 100 scored its fourth consecutive record high on Friday as strong earnings from U.S. tech giants buoyed investor sentiment, while cybersecurity firm Darktrace rallied following a buyout deal by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.8%, after hitting a fresh all-time high of 8,146.79 points earlier in the day. On a weekly basis, the index marked its biggest gains since mid-September.

"The combination of recovering earnings and reasonable prices continue to make things look quite attractive for the UK market," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG Group.

Sentiment in Asian and broader European markets also gained support from upbeat earnings from Wall Street tech titans Alphabet and Microsoft. [.N]

Among stocks at home, NatWest jumped 6.1% to the top of FTSE 100, touching a more than one-year-high after the British bank's first-quarter profit fell by a less-than-expected 27%.

Anglo American rejected BHP Group's 31.1 billion pound ($39 billion) takeover proposal, saying the bid significantly undervalued the London-listed miner and its future prospects.

"The usual playbook for mega deals in the resources space is for the original suitor to respond to rejection by coming back with a better offer, or someone else throwing their hat into the ring. That contender could be Rio Tinto," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, in a note.

However, Anglo advanced 3.2% after activist fund Elliott disclosed a $1 billion stake in the company.

Convatec Group fell 6.5% after Peel Hunt downgraded the stock to "reduce" from "add".

The midcap FTSE 250 advanced 1.1% and clocked its best week in three months/ since January.

Darktrace rallied 16.4%, leading gains on the index after Thoma Bravo agreed to buy the Mike Lynch-backed cybersecurity company for about $5.32 billion.

Meanwhile, British consumer sentiment returned to a two-year high this month as households took a more positive view of the economy and their own finances, a long-running survey showed.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. monthly inflation rose moderately in March, but stubbornly higher housing and transportation costs suggested the Federal Reserve could keep interest rates elevated for a while.

(Reporting by Pranav Kashyap, Khushi Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema, Mrigank Dhaniwala and Josie Kao)