UK stocks opened weaker on Friday following losses in Asia and confirmation that the economy is still subdued after the latest GfK survey showed consumer confidence at its lowest level since 2013.

The FTSE 100 index dipped 32 points or 0.4% to 7,384 with miners Anglo American (AAL), Antofagasta (ANTO) and Evraz (EVR) together with money manager St James’s Place (STJ) at the bottom of the pile.

Grocery delivery firm Ocado (OCDO) was by far the brightest star, up 13% to £13.67, after it announced a partnership with Japan’s Aeon to develop an online grocery service in Japan using the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP).

Aeon is one of Asia's largest retailers, operating in 14 countries, with over 20,000 stores and about 100m customers. The deal sees expected sales capacity of around Y600bn (£4.2bn) by 2030, growing to about Y1tn (£7bn) by 2035.

Pharmaceutical giant AsztraZeneca (AZN) announced more positive news for its Imfinzi cancer drug. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) granted a ‘priority review’ for the drug to treat extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. Shares traded sideways at £74.88.

The approval came following positive results from Phase III trials which showed that combining Imfinzi with chemotherapy resulted in a ‘statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival’ against chemotherapy alone.

Further down the market van-hire firm Northgate (NTG) announced it would take over roadside support firm Redde (REDD) in an all-share merger worth just under £400m.

As part of the deal, Redde shareholders will get 0.37 new Northgate shares for each Redde share they hold. That equates to around 128p or an 18% premium to last night’s close in Redde.

Redde shares gained 5% to 114p on the news while Northgate shares lost 5% to 333p.

Shares in computer games-maker Codemasters (CDM:AIM) jumped 11% to 233p after it announced a placing of £20m of new shares at 210p per share.

The proceeds will be used to acquire rival games-maker Slightly Mad Studios (SMS), which produces highly successful racing franchises and games including Project CARS and Need For Speed Shift.

Also racing ahead were shares in Aggregated Micro Power (AMPH) which leapt 25% to 85p after the renewable-fuel and power distributor received a cash bid from private equity fund Fossa Holdings.

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Issue Date: 29 Nov 2019