FTSE falls as pharma firms struggle

Pharmaceutical firms AstraZeneca (AZN), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Hikma (HIK) were among the top blue-chip fallers.

It was a bad week for pharma firms as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) voluntarily recalled its Ventolin asthma inhalers in the US, while broker UBS turned cautious on AstraZeneca ahead of results from a cancer drug trial.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.4% lower at 7,303.

West Texas Intermediate rose 0.9% to $51.61 and Brent crude oil was up 0.8% to $54.79 per barrel, respectively.

Gold glittered at $1,249 per ounce, while copper fell 1% to $5,842 per tonne.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

Wall Street investors were cautious ahead of US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both markets opened flat on Thursday.

Asian markets were concerned that the US Federal Reserve may reduce its balance sheet, causing the Nikkei 225 in Japan to close 1.4% lower on Thursday.

The Hang Seng and SSE Composite followed suit, but suffered smaller falls.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) entered a settlement agreement with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which resolved patent litigation concerning the latter’s Xyrem oral solution to treat narcolepsy.

According to media reports, BP (BP.) signed an agreement with chemicals logistics company AKR Corporindo for the joint development of a differentiated fuel firm.

Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever (ULVR) fattened 1% to £39.78 despite outlining actions and targets after a review of the business in response to a failed takeover attempt by US rival Kraft Heinz.

Among these aims was to target 20% underlying operating margin by 2020 and planned hike in its dividend by 12%. Management also said it would exit its spreads business.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) sold its stake in a New Zealand gas field while taking over its operating company under a plan to possibly divest its holdings in the country later on, according to reports.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

Home emergency services business HomeServe (HSV) reported strong momentum and said it expected results for the year ended 31 March to be at the upper end of market forecasts. The market marked the stock 11.6% higher to 632.5p on the good news.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Babywear retailer Mothercare (MTC) was up 3.3% to 118p as it posted a decent start to trading in 2017 with like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to 25 March up 4.5%.

TechFinancials (TECH) warned that 2017 will be challenging thanks to the loss of its largest customer and an uncertain environment in Europe, which already caused some of its licensees to halt their operations.

Management said this could have an impact on its revenue performance throughout the year, causing the stock to fall 13% to 8.2p.

Chinese medicines producer Taihua (TAIH) fell another 13.8% to 1.4p following its announcement on 5 April that it will seek shareholder permission to delist from AIM.

Hardide (HDD) announced that overall trading was comfortably ahead of its performance in the last financial year, triggering a 19.5% rise in the stock to 1.2p.

Blur Group (BLUR) reported a UK County Council would be continuing its programme of spend that could lead to a multiple six-figure roll out of its indirect spend management platform. Shares in the firm were up 8% to 14.6p.

Copper focused miner Weatherly International (WTI) highlighted reduced copper cathode output at Tschudi for its March 2017 quarter, with 3,236 tonnes produced 24% below installed capacity.

It revised down production guidance to 14,500-15,000 tonnes for the year to June 2017, prompting a sell off as the stock crashed 25.4% to 0.4p.

Greka Drilling (GDL) catapulted 68.5% to 4.5p after winning a three-year integrated drilling contract from Indian state oil firm ONGC for its Bokaro CBM asset.

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com