DCC trades in line with forecasts, WPP to sell 60pc of Kantar to Bain Capital
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 13 points higher on Friday, having closed down 0.28% at 1,509.82 on Thursday.
Stocks to watch
AstraZeneca announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation (ODD) to ‘Imfinzi’ (durvalumab) for the treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The FTSE 100 pharmaceuticals giant said SCLC constituted about 15% of all lung cancer diagnoses, and was the most aggressive type of lung cancer with only 6% of patients alive after five years. It explained that the FDA granted ODD status to medicines and potential new medicines intended for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases or disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the US.
Sales, marketing and support group DCC said it had traded in line with expectations in the first quarter, with “good growth” in group operating profit, driven by acquisitions completed in the prior year. “DCC's profits are significantly weighted towards the second half of its financial year. At what is still a very early stage in the financial year, the group reiterates its belief that the year ending 31 March 2020 will be another year of profit growth and development,” the company said in a trading statement.
WPP said it planned to sell 60% of its Kantar market-research business to US private equity company Bain Capital, valuing Kantar at $4bn (£3.19). The advertising giant said it would retain around 60% of net proceeds to reduce debt, with the balance, around $1.2bn returned to shareholders. WPP is trying to transform itself after the sudden departure in April last year of chief executive Martin Sorrell over alleged misconduct, which he denied, and several profit warnings.
Senior executives of Reckitt Benckiser face pressure to return lucrative bonuses after it agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve long-running US investigations into the sales and marketing of a treatment for opioid addiction. The FTSE 100 company said it had reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission relating to a $3 billion indictment issued in April against Indivior, the UK-listed drugs company it spun off in 2014. - The Times
Theresa May appeared to back down on Thursday in her fight to choose Britain's next ambassador to the US after her foreign minister hinted that an early appointment was unlikely. Although a Downing Street spokesman would only confirm that Sir Kim Darroch’s replacement would be announced “in due course”, Sir Alan Duncan admitted: “We do really want to make sure we get the very best person and I think it'd be a pity if in the interests of alacrity we chose a number two rather than a number one.” - Telegraph
The Bank of England has warned that a no-deal Brexit could trigger a material shock to the UK economy while causing widespread disruption for EU companies by cutting them off from London-based banks. Stating that the risk of Britain crashing out without a deal had risen, the Bank said the City of London was ready to withstand such a scenario and avoid banks failing, as they did in the financial crisis. However, there would still be major disruption for companies. - Guardian
Investors who hold Neil Woodford's frozen Equity Income fund on the Hargreaves Lansdown platform can now switch it to a rival broker if they want, following a change of stance by share registrar Link. Woodford is currently overhauling his fund and shedding illiquid assets, in a process initially intended to last 28 days but that is now thought likely to take until Christmas. - Daily Mail
Wall Street ended a bumper session with a bang on Thursday, with the Dow hitting a record high a day after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell suggested the central bank was open to easing monetary policy in the near future.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 0.85% at 27,088.08 and the S&P 500 added 0.23% to 2,999.91, while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.08% to 8,196.04.
At the open, the Dow cracked 27,000 for the first time in history after it closed ahead 76.71 points higher on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 also broke above 3,000.
Stocks did reverse some of those earlier gains after Donald Trump tweeted that China was "letting [the United States] down" by not purchasing the US farm products "that they said they would".
That came after reports that the Trump administration was growing increasingly concerned regarding the prospects of a trade deal with Beijing.