Market Report: AstraZeneca strengthen with purchase of asthma drug


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The Independent Online

AstraZeneca is trying to make good on its promise to investors that it’s better off alone.

The pharmaceutical giant rebuffed Pfizer’s £55 a share takeover offer two months ago, setting out a strategy for going it alone that many saw as over ambitious. Yesterday boss Pascal Soriot shrugged off doubts, strengthening the company’s pipeline with the $2.1bn (£1.2bn) purchase of an asthma drug developed by Spanish outfit Almirall.

There are rumours of another deal: Astra is said to be sniffing about German biotech outfit Evotec, with Johnson & Johnson also thought to be interested. Astra climbed 35p to 4,357.5p.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was once again on the back foot, retreating 34.31 points to 6,773.44. Most put the slump down to fears over Russia’s reaction to sanctions from the US and EU. Even better than expected US GDP numbers arriving in the afternoon failed to ease the gloom.

Results drove much of the day’s trading activity. Better than expected half-year figures from Barclays, up 9.3p to 228.4p, sparked a resurgence for banks, and lenders added 3.99 points to the index.

Despite rising copper production in the second quarter and steady full-year forecasts, Chilean miner Antofagasta slipped 39p to 816p, as falling metal prices led to rising costs.

Rio Tinto slipped 41p to 3,434p, after offloading assets in Mozambique at a huge loss: it paid $3.7bn for Riversdale Mining in 2011 but yesterday revealed it had sold on the company’s coking coal operations for just $50m.

Pets at Home shot up 12p to 182p on the mid-cap index after a solid set of results, while accessory specialist 4imprint leapt up 60.5p to 705p after what Espirito Santo Bank dubbed a “stunning” set of first half numbers.

AIM-listed Summit Corporation climbed 4.5p to 108p as chief executive Glyn Edwards spent £31,000 on shares. African iron and manganese producer Ferrex lost 0.32p to 1.1p – its project in Gabon has fallen through. Technology company Tern jumped 0.5p to 2.12p, as director Al Sisto advanced £100,000 to the company prior to converting it into new equity.