A big breakthrough in cancer treatment could be on the cards as the FDA’s advisory committee backs the tumour investigation therapy CTL019, developed by Novartis. This is superb news for the UK’s Oxford BioMedica (OXB), whose pin-prick blood test technology is a key part of the process.
Getting the advisory committee’s thumbs-up makes it much more likely to get full FDA clinical approval, which explains why Oxford Biomedica’s share price soars more than 12% on Thursday to 10.5p, valuing the business at just shy of £325m.
Elsewhere in healthcare, drugs giant AstraZeneca (AZN) is under selling pressure that swipes 4% of the share price to £49.84, topping the FTSE loser board. Colostomy bag blue-chip designer ConvaTec (CTEC) is also down 2% at 292.6p, despite little newsflow from either group.
Engineering business Babcock (BAB) heads the FTSE 100 leader board in early trade on Thursday as it flags a solid start to the new financial year. The £4.5bn company talks up robust finances, improving new business visibility and a contract that could be worth up to £500m to run planes for the Norwegian Health Service from summer 2019. That sparks a 2.8% share price rise to 894p.
Overall, London markets are largely flat in a quiet start to trading on Thursday. The FTSE 100 slips a modest 11 points to 7,405, while midcaps (FTSE 250) and the smaller company index make very small moves higher, to 19,276 and 4,041 respectively.
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct (SPD) has taken a 26% stake in struggling gaming outlets chain Game Digital (GMD). This may come as a shock to Shares readers, given our long-run views on Game Digital’s prospects and the company’s most recent dismal trading update. Game shares leap 13.4% on the news to 27.5p, while Sports Direct stays flat at 300.2p.
ONLINE SALES STAR
Online fashion retail star ASOS (ASC:AIM) reports more strong trading. Overall sales for the four months to 30 June jump 32% to £676m, helped by a surge in international sales and investment in lower prices.
Shares in specialist fashion retailer N Brown (BWNG) tumble 6.5% to 284.7p as the company admits to possible insurance product mis-selling by third-parties between 2006 and 2014. It may seem odd for insurance products to be sold alongside dresses and cardigans, but it relates to an old catalogues business. Yet the company is having to set aside between £35m and £40m this year to meet possible redress claims.
Elsewhere, serial fundraiser Arian Silver (AGQ:AIM) slumps 22% to 0.52p as it taps investors for another £600,000. The cash, successfully raised, will be used to, press ahead with exploration plans at its mining concessions in Zacatecas, Mexico. The microcap miner last raised cash in April 2016, pulling £700,000 from investors.