LONDON (Alliance News) - London share prices were flat to slightly higher Friday, ahead of UK retail sales data for January at 0930 GMT, which will indicate whether higher inflation is dissuading British shoppers.
Shares in drug maker AstraZeneca was one of the early risers, up 1.0%, after it announced its Lynparza breast cancer treatment met its primary endpoint in phase 3 trials. Jeffries kept a Buy rating on the stock.
Also on the rise was SEGRO, up 3.2% and leading FTSE 250 gainers. The property investor said the Brexit vote last June has had "little apparent impact" on occupier and investment demand for modern warehousing in the UK.
Here is what you need to know at the London market open:
FTSE 100: flat at 7,278.01
FTSE 250: up 0.3% at 18,760.27
AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.1% at 907.73
Hang Seng: closed down 0.4% at 24,023.76
Nikkei 225: closed down 0.6% at 19,234.62
DJIA: closed flat at 20,619.77
S&P 500: closed down 0.1% at 2,347.22
GBP: flat at USD1.2485 (USD1.2493)
EUR: flat at USD1.0656 (USD1.0668)
GOLD: soft at USD1,237.08 per ounce (USD1,240.80)
OIL (Brent): firm at USD55.77 a barrel (USD55.33)
(changes since previous London equities close)
ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
Friday's Key Economic Events still to come
(all times in GMT)
0900 EU current account
0930 UK retail sales
1000 EU construction output
1500 US Conference Board leading indicator
1800 US Baker Hughes US oil rig count
Britain will not seek to "cherry-pick" which parts of European Union membership it wants to keep after Brexit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said. The PM said her aim to leave the single market, but strike a free trade deal with the EU including the "greatest possible access" to the trade bloc, does not amount to selectively choosing the best aspects of membership. Her comments come ahead of Downing Street talks on Friday with French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
US President Donald Trump went head to head with reporters at a wide-ranging news conference in which he denied having any dealings in Russia and accused the news media of being negative and dishonest. Trump hammered the media in particular over its reporting on leaks based on anonymous sources about people close to him having had contact with Russians during the campaign. "The leaks were real," Trump said, while at the same time paradoxically claiming that reports about the leaks were "fake news." He said he would look into investigating the leaks, which he said were "criminal."
The retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL asked by Trump to replace disgraced national security advisor Michael Flynn has turned the offer down, US media reported. In a statement, Bob Harward said that he "currently could not make" the commitment required for the job, according to CNN. But a friend of Harward told CNN that the Rhode Island native rejected the offer because the White House seemed so chaotic.
A day after the withdrawal of his first choice, Trump announced former US attorney Alexander Acosta will be his new nominee for Labor Secretary. Acosta, who is currently dean of the Florida International University College of Law, previously served on the National Labor Relations Board, as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division and as US attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta, the son of Cuban-American parents, would be the first Hispanic member of Trump's Cabinet if confirmed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the Trump White House was ready to work with Moscow but warned the Kremlin that it must implement peace efforts in eastern Ukraine. The talks between Tillerson and Lavrov at the Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bonn was the first face-to-face meeting between a top Moscow official and a representative of the new Trump White House. "The US will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people," Tillerson said after the meeting with Lavrov.
Pakistan's political and military leaders said they would go to any length to crush Islamic extremists after more than 100 people were killed in a latest wave of violence this week ending a period of fragile calm. A spate of suicide bombings, improvised explosive device explosions and drive-by shootings claimed by Taliban insurgents and Islamic State militants shook the country this week. An Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself among devotees at the most revered shrine of Sufi Islam overnight Thursday.
At least 45 people were killed Thursday in a car bombing claimed by the radical Sunni Islamic State group in a mostly Shiite area of Baghdad, a security official said. Forty-nine people were wounded by the blast in Baghdad's south-western district of Bayaa, according to Saad Maan, a spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command, the agency in charge of the city's security.
BROKER RATING CHANGES
JEFFERIES RAISES ASTRAZENECA PRICE TARGET TO 5250 (4800) PENCE - 'BUY'
JEFFERIES RAISES GLAXOSMITHKLINE PRICE TARGET TO 1800 (1780) PENCE - 'BUY'
UBS CUTS INMARSAT TO 'SELL' ('NEUTRAL') - TARGET 550 (810) PENCE
GOLDMAN CUTS COBHAM PRICE TARGET TO 88 (110) PENCE - 'SELL'
COMPANIES - FTSE 100
Cabin crew at British Airways, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group, will launch a fresh wave of four strikes in a long-running dispute over pay on Friday. Unite said its members at the airline were "piling on the pressure" by walking out from Friday, and again for four days from February 22. Members of the so-called mixed fleet have taken 11 days of action so far this year in protest at "poverty" pay.
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said its Lynparza breast cancer treatment met its primary endpoint in phase 3 trials of the drug. AstraZeneca said patients treated with Lynparza showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival for metastatic breast cancer sufferers compared to those treated with chemotherapy.
COMPANIES - FTSE 250
SEGRO said the Brexit vote last June had "little apparent impact" on occupier and investment demand for modern warehousing in the UK, as SEGRO's net asset value rose over 2016. The warehouse property investor reported EPRA net asset value per share of 500.00 pence at December 31, up 8.0% over the year, driven by a 4.8% like-for-like increase in the value of its portfolio. SEGRO declared a final dividend of 11.20p per share, taking its dividend for the year to 16.40p per share, up 5.1% from the 15.60p per share offered a year earlier.
Unite Group said it has sold 13 student accommodation properties in the UK for GBP295.0 million, from which Unite will receive GBP102.0 million. The student accommodation manager and developer said the disposal of the properties, which comprise of 4,175 beds, were sold to a Brookfield-managed fund. The properties were sold in line with book value, Unite said.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels said pretax profit declined slightly in 2016 despite growth in revenue, due to one-off charges, and also appointed a new interim chief executive. Millennium & Copthorne said it made a pretax profit of GBP108.0 million in the year to the end of December, down 0.9% from GBP109.0 million in 2015. Total revenue rose 9.3% to GBP926.0 million from GBP847.0 million the year before, but was flat in constant currencies. Revenue per available room rose 6.6% on a reported basis to GBP76.71, but declined 2.3% in constant currencies. The hotelier declared a final dividend of 5.66 pence per share, meaning its total payout rises 20% to 7.74p. Millennium & Copthorne said Tan Kian Seng has been appointed interim CEO, effective from March 1. He is currently group chief of staff and interim president of the firm's Asia business. Former CEO Aloysius Lee retired at the end of January.
Plastic and fibre products manufacturer Essentra issued a bleak outlook for 2017 and said its results for 2016 came in below its downgraded guidance range. The company, which makes retail packaging products, industrial components and cigarette filters, had in January warned on its outlook, saying adjusted operating profit will be at the lower end, or "modestly below" its GBP137.0 million to GBP142.0 million guidance range for 2016. On Friday, Essentra said adjusted operating profit for the year was GBP132.0 million, below the bottom end of the guidance range. The adjusted number strips out exceptional items. Essentra recommended a final dividend of 14.40 pence per share, flat year-on year. Its total payout was also flat at 20.70p. Essentra said it anticipates a further fall in like-for-like, constant currency revenue in 2017 and said adjusted operating profit will also decline, based on revenue weakness in the final quarter of 2016 and at the start of 2017 for Health & Personal Care Packaging.
COMPANIES - LONDON MAIN MARKET AND AIM
Life sciences investor Arix Bioscience said it has raised the GBP100.0 million it targeted from its listing on the London Main Market. London-headquartered Arix announced its plans to float earlier this month and said on Friday it has raised GBP100.0 million by issuing 48.3 million shares. It did not state the pricing of the shares, but the amount raised and number of shares issued implies a price of 207.00 pence. Arix said its market capitalisation upon admission will be GBP187.0 million.
COMPANIES - INTERNATIONAL
German insurer Allianz reported its fiscal 2016 net income attributable to shareholders grew 4.0% to EUR6.9 billion compared to the previous year. Operating profit rose 0.9% to EUR10.8 billion, near the upper end of its target range. Allianz said the net income growth was driven by a 9.3% improvement in operating profit in the Life and Health segment, largely due to an increased investment margin. Revenue was down 2.2% to EUR122.4 billion from EUR125.2 billion the prior year.
German generic pharmaceutical firm Stada Arzneimittel has said the open-minded talks with the two potential bidders, the interest from which was revealed earlier this week, are continuing. Stada also confirmed that it has received another legally non-binding conditional expression of interest regarding a bid to buy the company at an indicative takeover price of 58.00 euros per Stada share. On Monday, Stada said it had opened talks with two bidders, private equity houses Cinven Partners LLP and Advent International Corp. The Cinven bid was pitched at EUR56.00 a share, valuing Stada at EUR3.50 billion.
Samsung Electronics heir Lee Jae Yong was arrested over bribery allegations linked to the corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun Hye, the Yonhap news agency reported. The decision by the Seoul Central District Court to allow the arrest of Lee, vice president of the electronics giant, makes him the first leader in Samsung's history to be held on criminal charges. In January, a court rejected a request to arrest 48-year-old Lee, the de facto boss of the Samsung conglomerate, saying it did not see the necessity. But prosecutors made a second request on Tuesday, filing more charges against Lee including hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets abroad, Yonhap said.
Airbus Group has issued a statement in response to the criminal allegations made by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence against Airbus Defence & Space and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug, alleging wilful deception and fraud linked to the order for Eurofighter jets back in 2003. "We cannot see any foundation in particular for the allegations of bad faith and fraud," Airbus stated.
Boeing and Juneyao Airlines announced the finalisation of an order for five 787-9 Dreamliners, valued at about USD1.32 billion at current list prices. This new order, which also includes options for five more 787-9s, represents the Shanghai-based private airline's first Boeing order and first widebody airplane order.
Executives at Google's Project Loon, an ambitious effort to circulate broadband-emitting balloons across the globe, said they have found ways to run the program with fewer balloons. Rather than building a worldwide network, the team will now launch a small number of balloons into particular regions that need internet access. That will accelerate the project's path toward becoming an actual commercial operation, the Loon team said.
Thursday's Shareholder Meetings
Gooch & Housego
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