Britain’s FTSE steadies as GSK leads health stocks, miners weigh

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* FTSE 100 flat

* Fresh hopes for GSK’s HIV biz lifts shares

* Admiral, Hikma results in focus

* Miners fall as copper price declines

By Kit Rees

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – The UK’s top share index steadied on Wednesday as a fall across mining stocks capped results-driven gains, with GlaxoSmithKline a standout riser after the result of a clinical trial boosted hopes for its HIV business.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was flat in percentage terms at 7,609.19 points by 0854 GMT, while mid caps gained 0.2 percent.

Global markets more broadly have been hit by financial crisis in Turkey, though both the FTSE and European markets have stabilised.

However, a rise among UK health stocks provided the biggest boost to the index, led by a 1.4 percent jump for heavyweight GlaxoSmithKline.

A positive result from a study lifted shares in Britain’s biggest drugmaker. A long-acting injection developed by GlaxoSmithKline and given once a month has proved as effective as standard daily pills for controlling the AIDS virus.

This has lifted prospects for Glaxo’s key HIV business.

“GSK has now delivered positive data from all three of the key elements making up its strategy of offering patients a move to less toxic dual therapy with the option of a monthly injectable,” analysts at Liberum said in a note, adding that the prospects for dual-drug therapy are now much improved compared to a year ago.

Health stocks were also a bright spot among mid cap, with shares in Hikma soaring around 9 percent to a 15-month high after the Jordanian drugmaker raised its outlook at its two top units.

A half-year earnings update also boosted shares in Admiral Group 5.5 percent to the top of the FTSE 100.

The UK insurer posted a better-than-expected rise in first-half pre-tax profit thanks to demand for its insurance products.

“Admiral’s 2018 H1 (first half) results were ahead of our estimates, with customer numbers, reserve releases and underwriting discipline all better than expected in the UK Motor business,” analysts at Peel Hunt said in a note.

However, gains were limited by a fall across heavyweight mining stocks, with shares in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton , Glencore and Antofagasta all down between 1.4 percent to 1.8 percent as the price of copper fell to its lowest level in more than a year.

The large FTSE miners tend to track the underlying price of copper, which has extended losses into a fourth session as fears receded over a possible strike at a copper mine in Chile. (Reporting by Kit Rees Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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