British midcaps rise on strong earnings, Vectura shines



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* Vectura surges on agreeing to $1.4 bln takeover by Carlyle

* Marks & Spencer rises on positive profit outlook

* Croda rises on double upgrade by Goldman Sachs

* FTSE 100 flat, FTSE 250 adds 0.9% (Updates with market close)

By Shivani Kumaresan and Devik Jain

May 26 (Reuters) - British midcaps rose on Wednesday, boosted by solid earnings updates from companies including Marks & Spencer and Softcat, while Vectura Group topped the mid-cap index after agreeing to a takeover by The Carlyle Group.

The domestically focused mid-cap index .FTMC advanced 0.9%, helped by consumer discretionary and industrials stocks.

Vectura Group VEC.L surged 33.8% to the top of the index, after the pharmaceutical company focused on inhaled medicines agreed to a 958 million pound ($1.36 billion) takeover by global investment firm The Carlyle Group.

Marks & Spencer MKS.L climbed 8.5% after the retailer said it was making progress with its turnaround plan, had traded well in the early weeks of the 2021-22 year and that profits would recover.

"The UK stock market has started to regain favour with investors around the world after a long period in the doldrums and private equity is pouncing hard and deploying large cash resources by striking new deals," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"Trade buyers are also in the market, seeing opportunities to buy rivals and increase market share."

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE was flat, with banks, including HSBC HSBA.L , Prudential Financial PRU.L , Standard Chartered Plc STAN.L falling between 0.6% and 1.9%.

Globally shares rose too after U.S. Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed a dovish monetary policy stance, reassuring investors worried about the prospect of rising inflation, while hinting at talk of debating a "taper".

The FTSE 100 index has gained 8.6% year-to-date on optimism that speedy vaccine rollouts and constant policy support from the government would drive a stronger recovery from a pandemic-led recession.

Among other stocks, Softcat SCTS.L added 6.9% after the IT services and consulting firm said it expected annual results ahead of expectations.

Specialty chemical maker Croda International CRDA.L climbed 2.6% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" from "sell".

Spire Healthcare Group SPI.L jumped 26.9% after it agreed to a takeover offer from Australian hospital operator Ramsay Health Care RHC.AX for about 1 billion pounds ($1.41 billion).
Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, William Maclean

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