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FTSE 100 consolidates gains to end up; Shire biggest riser

FTSE 100 ended the day 0.58% up at 6,713, with specialty biopharma Shire (LON: SHP) the biggest gainer.

Sentiment was lifted by positive date from China and hopes of an improving global picture.

Lloyds Banking Group (LON:LLOY) and Aberdeen Asset Management (LON:ADN) were among the top risers as the latter confirmed speculation it is in talks with the former about a possible takeover of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

Reports suggest Aberdeen is proposing an all-share deal to buy out the Lloyds’s fund management division, which oversees around £140 billion of clients’ money.

“The potential acquisition would add further scale and diversity to the company's product range, thus complementing organic growth, consistent with the board's strategy,” Aberdeen said in a statement.

Lloyds is yet to comment on the deal.

Shire’s (LON:SHP) shares jumped the most after an impressive third quarter update prompted an earnings guidance uplift.

A 13% year-on-year increase in product sales helped the shares up to end the day 9.31% up.

Sports Direct (LON:SPD) fell 3.79% after owner Mike Ashley sold £106mln worth of shares on the back of yesterday’s impressive quarterly results.

The Newcastle United owner still holds more than 60% of the sportswear retailer’s stock, which is worth around £2.5bn.

On the small cap index, Wessex Exploration (LON:WSX) was a stand-out stock. It shot up over 27%, with more than 5mln shares changing hands.

Baobab Resources (LON:BAO) edged higher after it and Mozambique’s state-owned electricity company  agreed jointly to commission a study on how to meet the power requirements of the Tete pig iron project.

Ben James, Baobab’s managing director, said the memorandum of understanding with Electricidade de Moçambique was a significant milestone in its negotiations on access to infrastructure in the African country.

The company has taken on Parsons Brinckerhoff to complete the study, which will be incorporated into the project’s Bankable Feasibility Study.

Meanwhile, in afternmoon trade, shares in drug developer ValiRx (LON:VAL) surged nearly 14% after it got the green light for a plan to carry out an expanded Phase 1b trial for lead compound VAL201.

Paperwork for the expanded trial of the anti-cancer therapeutic is being targeted for a start in the first quarter of 2014. The study is expected to yield early results within 8 weeks of starting, the company told investors.

The firm believes the revised strategy will accelerate VAL201's clinical programme to Phase 2a and 2b studies - key value inflection points - and lead to time and cost savings alongside generating greater value.

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