TOP NEWS SUMMARY: China factory output booms but retail sales trail

(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories ...

Alliance News 17 May, 2021 | 10:52AM
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(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Monday.

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COMPANIES

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Sanofi's and GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvanted recombinant Covid-19 vaccine candidate achieved strong rates of neutralizing antibody responses, the companies reported. The interim results showed 95% to 100% seroconversion following a second injection in patients from 18 to 95 years old and across all doses, with acceptable tolerability and with no safety concerns. Overall, the vaccine candidate elicited strong neutralizing antibody levels that were comparable to those generated by natural infection. The results came from a phase 2 study in all adult age groups with 722 volunteers. A global pivotal phase 3 study is expected to start in the coming weeks, the pharmaceutical companies said.

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US telecommunications giant AT&T could announce as soon as Monday a merger between its WarnerMedia unit – which owns CNN and HBO – and Discovery media, reports said. The new entity is expected to be owned by AT&T and Discovery, according to a CNBC report, but no details were immediately released. Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported a deal "could be announced announced as soon as this week." Contacted by AFP, neither AT&T, WarnerMedia, or Discovery had responded on Sunday evening. The transaction could create a giant able to compete with Netflix and Disney+, which have seen their number of subscribers surge during the pandemic. A slowdown in the growth of the Walt Disney empire's streaming platform between January and March, however, made investors fret and caused the group's shares to plunge last week.

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Ryanair fell to a loss of more than EUR1 billion in its most recently ended financial year but said Monday it expects an improvement as coronavirus restrictions ease and it introduces a more efficient airplane. The Irish budget airline said it swung to a loss for the year to the end of March of EUR1.11 billion from EUR648.7 million profit recorded the year before. Annual revenue fell 81% year-on-year to EUR1.64 billion from EUR8.49 billion, in line with the fall in traffic to just 27.5 million from 148.6 million the year prior. Load factor declined to 71% from 95% year-on-year. Looking ahead, Ryanair expects first-quarter traffic to be between 5 million and 6 million guests. It also believes that annual traffic is likely to be towards the lower end of its previously guided range of 80 million to 120 million passengers, which would represent a jump of up to four times year-on-year. The airline said it thinks financial 2022 will be close to breakeven, assuming vaccine rollouts allow the lifting of intra-European travel restrictions in time for the July to September peak period.

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HSBC Holdings has been picked as coordinator for Saudi Arabia's potential first initial public offering of a tech startup, Bloomberg reported. The bank's Saudi unit was hired by Jahez International Co for Information Technology, a food delivery firm founded in 2016. HSBC will be sole financial adviser and global coordinator for the potential IPO on the Saudi stock exchange's secondary market, Bloomberg reported, citing the company. A valuation was not disclosed, although the company raised USD36.5 million in a funding round last year, Bloomberg said. Jahez said it has 2 million customers in Saudi Arabia and processed 20 million orders last year.

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MARKETS

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Asian and European markets were mixed at the start of the new week, torn between the ending of Covid-19 restrictions in some countries such as Portugal and the UK and concerns about the Indian variant of the virus.

"The UK continues to see a very smooth and successful rollout of vaccines, but other countries are still playing catch-up or are experiencing supply shortages," commented Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. "That's why it could be better late than never for GlaxoSmithKline which has reported encouraging Phase 2 results from its joint vaccine candidate with Sanofi. The more vaccines the better, as that would in theory increase the chance for countries around the world to have a fighting chance of tackling Covid and start living lives normally again."

Glaxo shares were down 0.4% in London, while Sanofi was up 0.3% in Paris.

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CAC 40: down 0.2% at 6,374.26

DAX 30: up marginally, 6.90 points, at 15,423.54

FTSE 100: down 0.4% at 7,016.03

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Hang Seng: closed up 0.6% at 28,194.09

Nikkei 225: closed down 0.9% at 27,824.83

S&P/ASX 200: closed up 0.1% at 7,023.60

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DJIA: called down 0.2%

S&P 500: called down 0.2%

Nasdaq Composite: called down 0.3%

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EUR: firm at USD1.2145 (USD1.2138)

GBP: up at USD1.4103 (USD1.4088)

USD: down at JPY109.23 (JPY109.40)

GOLD: up at USD1,853.11 per ounce (USD1,837.50)

OIL (Brent): up at USD68.79 a barrel (USD68.30)

(currency and commodities changes since previous London equities close)

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ECONOMICS AND GENERAL

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China's industrial production recorded strong growth in April after last year's pandemic-induced slump, official data showed, but retail sales picked up less than expected amid uncertainty in the global economy. The world's second-largest economy, where the coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019, was also the first to bounce back from strict virus lockdowns. It was a recovery led by factory activity, with Chinese firms producing everything from protective gear to electronics and other consumer goods desired by global consumers stuck at home and ordering online. Industrial output rose 9.8% on-year last month, in line with expectations. Retail sales grew 18%, but missed expectations. Also in April, the urban unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.1%, the NBS added.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health experts have urged people to exercise caution when they head to pubs and restaurants as the lockdown eases despite concerns about the spread of an Indian coronavirus variant. Although ministers believe the vaccines will be effective against the highly transmissible Indian variant of concern, there are worries about the impact of its spread on those who have refused to have a jab or not yet been offered one. The prime minister urged people to treat the latest easing of restrictions with a "heavy dose of caution" while Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned against excessive drinking for those returning to bars. People in England can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, and indoors in groups of six, or two households, with pubs and restaurants able to serve customers inside. Museums, cinemas and other indoor attractions can reopen. The "stay in the UK" restriction will lift and people will be able to go on holiday to "green list" countries including Portugal without having to quarantine on their return, provided they take one post-arrival test.

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UK house prices notched another record high in May, property portal Rightmove said on Monday, as the sector continues its post-lockdown surge. UK house prices rose 1.8% monthly to an average of GBP333,564, a record high. Annually, prices are 6.7% higher. Rightmove noted that during housing market upturns in the UK, it is often London that leads the way. That is not the case this time, however, as house price growth in London since last year is just 0.2%. To compare, both the North West of England and Yorkshire & the Humber have seen growth of 11%.

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Israeli air strikes hammered the Gaza Strip on Monday after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian, despite international calls for de-escalation. Before dawn, in the space of just a few minutes, dozens of Israeli strikes bombarded the crowded coastal Palestinian enclave controlled by Islamist group Hamas, according to AFP journalists and the army. Flames lit up the sky as intense explosions shook Gaza city, sparking widespread power cuts and damaging hundreds of buildings, local authorities said. No casualties were immediately reported. Some 3,100 rockets have also been fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel since conflict escalated on May 10 in the heaviest exchange of fire between the rivals in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem.

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By Tom Waite; thomaslwaite@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Rating
GlaxoSmithKline PLC 1,415.00
Sanofi SA 88.22

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