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FTSE 100 firmly lower as Merck exits vaccine race

Mon, 25th Jan 2021

News that pharma firm Merck had given up on developing a Covid-19 vaccine helped deliver a knock to sentiment on Monday afternoon. By the close the FTSE 100 was down 0.8% at 6,638.65, with the S&P 500 down 0.6% to 3,816.83 by 4.30pm UK time. Airline shares were still under pressure on concern over travel restrictions being introduced to curb the Covid-19 pandemic with International Consolidated Airlines down 7.2% to 140.7p. Cinema operator Cineworld gained 1.8% to 67.3p even as it faced a shareholder rebellion on pay with almost a third of shareholders voting against share-based awards for top directors. Specialist lender Amigo fell 11.5% to 7.43p as it warned it faced insolvency if a rescue plan which involves limiting customer payouts fails. Online fashion retailer ASOS rose 5.9% to £50.68, having confirmed media speculation that it was in exclusive talks with Arcadia's administrators to acquire Topshop. Fellow online retailer Boohoo rallied 5.1% to 349.9p as investors embraced its decision to acquire the intellectual property assets of Debenhams for £55 million in cash. Infant merchandise retailer Mothercare was down 4.3% to 11.1p on announcing that it expected to post a small annual operating loss, as the pandemic hurt sales following a restructure of the struggling group. In other sectors, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca rose 1.2% to £78.73 after it announced positive trial results and an approval in Japan, both for a lymphocytic leukaemia treatment. Automotive fluid system maker TI Fluid Systems fell 1.9% to 230.9p, reversing earlier gains, as it forecast 'slightly' better-than-expected annual margins amid a fall in sales pinned on the pandemic. Inter-dealer broker TP ICAP shed 0.2% to 217.31p after its efforts to relocate staff to countries in the European Union in the wake of Brexit was delayed due to the pandemic. Financial services company JTC advanced 3.1% to 593.8p as it guided for annual results in line with management and consensus estimates following new business wins. Pawnbroker H&T gained 10.4% to 298p as it said full-year pre-tax profit was expected to be ahead of market expectations following stronger-than-anticipated performance in November and December. Sirius Real Estate added 4.1% to 90p after its Titanium joint venture with AXA IM Alts had acquired the Sigma Technopark in Augsburg, Germany for around €80 million from a fund managed by Corestate. Telecom services group Maintel gained 2.6% to 390p on forecasting annual revenue and adjusted earnings in line with guidance it delivered in September, despite the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns. Story provided by

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