London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.23% at 7,141.32 by noon on Friday, the blue chip benchmark nudging higher with miners and pharmaceutical stocks leading the way, although traders keeping their powder dry ahead of the latest US employment data.

Yet concerns over a recent jump in coronavirus infections outweighed reopening optimism and kept the index on course for a muted weekly showing.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) responded to demands from activist investor Elliott which questioned if CEO Emma Walmsley was the right person to lead the company once it separates the consumer healthcare arm. The FTSE 100 pharma group gave its full support for Walmsley, helping to lift the shares by 0.2% to £14.40.

Fellow consumer heavyweights Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) and Unilever (ULVR) also edged higher, while homebuilders Barratt Developments (BDEV), Persimmon (PSON) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) also featured among the FTSE 100 risers.

UK banks dragged on the index however, with Standard Chartered (STAN), HSBC (HSBA) and Lloyds (LLOY) all in negative territory by noon.

JD Sports Fashion (JD.) made modest gains, up 0.6% at 975.2p, despite revealing after the close yesterday that the chair of its remuneration committee would leave the board following a shareholder rebellion over management pay at the sportswear retailer.

COMPANY NEWS WRAP

Building materials distributor group Grafton (GFTU) gained 0.7% to £12.24 after it completed the previously announced acquisition of Isojoen Konehalli and Jokapaikka on 1 July 2021.

Omega Diagnostics (ODX:AIM), the medical diagnostics company focused on infectious diseases and food intolerance, rose 2.8% to 55.5p after announcing that its technology partner Mologic has filed a submission to the US Food and Drug Administration for its rapid point-of-care Covid-19 antigen test.

Drug discovery company E-therapeutics (ETX:AIM) edged 1.8% higher to 22.9p on the news it has met a key milestone in its collaboration with Galapagos NV, paving the way for the company to receive a milestone payment.

Staying in the healthcare space, pharmaceutical company Diurnal (DNL:AIM) added 1.9% to 65.5p after saying that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has granted a marketing authorisation to the company’s hydrocortisone capsules to treat adult and adolescent patients suffering with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Computer games maker Team17 (TM17:AIM) rallied 4.5% to 762.5p after announcing that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the business and assets of StoryToys, via the acquisition of its parent company TouchPress.

And Liontrust Asset Management (LIO) lost 2p to trade at £18.54 after the asset manager pulled the flotation of its first ever investment trust, Liontrust ESG Trust, after failing to drum up enough investor support.

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Issue Date: 02 Jul 2021