Major UK equity markets lost the positive momentum established in the previous session during early trading on Wednesday morning.

Both the blue chip FTSE 100 FTSE 250  dipped into negative territory. At 9am the FTSE 100 was trading down 0.05% at 7501.43, and the FTSE 250 was 0.07% weaker at 23,880.65.

Investors will be awaiting the release of US ADP private sector payrolls data later today for December. These may provide some insights regarding the extent to which Omicron has negatively impacted economic growth.

The market will also be closely monitoring the minutes of the US central bank’s 15 December policy decision which will be published after the London market close.

American equity markets recorded a mixed performance on Tuesday with the Dow Jones Industrial reaching a new all-time high, despite the release of slightly weaker-than expected economic data.

The Dow closed 0.59% higher at 36,799.65, while the S&P 500 drifted 0.06% to 4,793.54. The Nasdaq fell 1.3% at 15,622.72.

UK supermarkets were higher on news of strong festive sales from Kantar.

MARKET NEWS.

Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) moved 0.1% higher to £84.83 after announcing that it had completed the transfer of its global rights for pulmonary drugs Eklira and Duaklir to Covis Pharma for $270 million.

Eklira, known as Tudorza in the US, and Duaklir are inhaled respiratory medicines used for the maintenance treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Shares in online supermarket Ocado (ODCO), moved 4.2% higher to £16.21 following a broker upgrade from Berenberg from 'hold' to 'buy'.

Shares in telecommunications and mobile money services company Airtel Africa (AAF) fell 1.4% to 139p after it  announced the first closing of the transaction to sell its telecommunications tower assets in Tanzania to a joint venture company owned by a subsidiary of SBA Communications Corporation, and Paradigm Infrastructure.

The gross consideration for the transaction is $176.1 million. Around $60 million from the proceeds would be used to invest in network and sales infrastructure in Tanzania and for distribution to the Government of Tanzania.

'The balance of the proceeds will be used to reduce debt at group level,' it added.

Shares in London Stock Exchange (LSEG) were in demand following an upgrade to 'buy' from 'neutral' at Citigroup. Shares were 2.6% higher at £72.56.

Shares in gene and cell therapy group Oxford Biomedica (OXB) edged 0.9% higher to £12.22 after it announced that it had signed a new license and supply agreement with Cabaletta Bio, granting the latter with a license to the company's LentiVector platform.

DSG3-CAART was being evaluated in the DesCAARTes phase 1 clinical trial as a potential treatment for patients with mucosal pemphigus vulgaris, a prototypical B cell-mediated autoimmune disease.

Specialty pharmaceutical company Shield Therapeutics (STX:AIM)  has entered into an exclusive licence agreement for Accrufer its iron deficiency product, with KYE Pharmaceuticals in Canada.

Under the agreement, KYE Pharmaceuticals would undertake and be responsible for all costs required to achieve marketing authorisation and commercialisation of Accrufer in Canada.

Shield will receive double-digit royalties on net sales of Accrufer.

Shares moved 2.26% higher on the news.

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Issue Date: 05 Jan 2022