LONDON MARKET PRE-OPEN: Lower Call As AstraZeneca Earnings Slip

LONDON (Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are seen opening marginally lower on Friday ...

Alliance News 18 May, 2018 | 7:42AM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - Stock prices in London are seen opening marginally lower on Friday after the FTSE 100 set a record closing high on Thursday, as AstraZeneca reported a drop in earnings for the first quarter.

IG futures indicate the FTSE 100 index is to open down 4.77 points at 7,783.20. The blue chip index closed up 0.7% at 7,787.97 on Thursday.

In early corporate news, Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said its performance in product sales benefited from strong launches and continued growth of newer medicines in China, but was hurt by lower sales of its cholesterol drug Crestor due to generic competition.

For the quarter ending March 31, revenue was down 4.0% to USD5.18 billion from USD5.40 billion in the first quarter last year. Product sales rose 3% at actual exchange rates to USD4.98 billion, but the group added that product sales growth this year is weighted to the second half.

Pretax profit declined 36% USD374 million against USD582 million.

"AstraZeneca's pipeline continued to bring significant benefits for patients, most recently with the expanded US approval of Tagrisso for lung cancer and Lynparza for breast cancer. With our transformation coming into sharper commercial focus as the year progresses, we are confident of delivering on our goals," said Chief Executive Pascal Soriot.

Jordan-founded generic drugmaker Hikma Pharmaceuticals said it has made an encouraging start to the year, with its Global Injectables unit performing well, The division was supported by six product launches in the year, and "strong quality track record enabling to meet increased demand across our marketed portfolio", the company added.

"Our efforts to reduce costs across the group are on track and we continue to focus on enhancing and investing in our pipeline. Our cash position remains very healthy and our balance sheet is strong. Altogether, these factors reinforce our positive outlook for the Group and enable us to reiterate our guidance for the full year," said CEO Siggi Olafsson.

Oil companies BP and ConocoPhillips are in discussions for an asset swap deal that would see the UK energy major gain a greater foothold in a key project in the North Sea and the US explorer get Alaskan assets, the Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

BP is considering taking Conoco's stake in the Clair field, in which BP already holds a 28.6% stake and is the operator, according to the financial news service. BP describes Clair as "the largest undeveloped hydrocarbon resource" in the UK.

Elsewhere, Unite Group said Property Director Richard Simpson will leave the student accommodation developer to take the CEO role at student accommodation builder Watkin Jones. Simpson will remain with Unite until December and take up his new position at Watkin Jones in January.

Ophir Energy said CEO Nick Cooper has stepped down effective immediately, Non-Executive Director Alan Booth will assume the role of interim CEO until a replacement is found.

"This decision to appoint a new CEO reflects the company's ongoing move to rebalance its portfolio towards a larger production and cash flow base, to support more focused and sustainable exploration activity," Ophir said.

Sterling was flat quoted at USD1.3516 early Friday, versus USD1.3510 at the London equities close on Thursday.

In the economic events calendar on Friday there is eurozone trade data at 1000 BST.

In the US on Thursday, Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down 0.2%, S&P 500 down 0.1% and Nasdaq Composite ending 0.2% lower.

Stocks in the US closed lower on Thursday as traders expressed some uncertainty about the second round of trade talks between the US and China.

Blaming the trade policies of previous administrations, US President Donald Trump expressed some doubt about whether the high-level trade talks with China will be successful.

Trump told reporters he tends to doubt the talks will be successful in remarks during an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"The reason I doubt it is because China has become very spoiled," Trump said. "The EU has become very spoiled. Other countries have become very spoiled, because they always got 100% of whatever they wanted from the US."

The Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.3% Friday. In China, the Shanghai Composite is up 0.8%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is up 0.5%.

In Asian economic news, nationwide consumer prices in Japan were up just 0.6% on year in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. That was shy of expectations for a gain of 0.7% and was down sharply from 1.1% in March.

Core CPI was up 0.7% on year, beneath forecasts for 0.8% and down from 0.9% in the previous month. On a monthly basis, overall CPI was down 0.4% and core CPI eased 0.1%.

By Arvind Bhunjun; arvindbhunjun@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2018 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Rating
Watkin Jones PLC 219.00 GBX 0.00 -
Ophir Energy PLC 44.90 GBX 1.35 -
UNITE Group PLC 872.00 GBX 0.98 -
Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC 1,547.50 GBX -0.16
AstraZeneca PLC 5,570.00 GBX 1.09
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