(Alliance News) - The following stocks are the leading risers and fallers within the main London indices on Wednesday.
FTSE 100 - LOSERS
AstraZeneca, down 0.9%. Clinical trials of one of the most advanced experimental Covid-19 vaccines, which is being developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University, were "paused" Tuesday after a volunteer developed an unexplained illness. With billions of people around the world still suffering from the fallout of the pandemic and the global death toll nearing 900,000, a worldwide race for a vaccine is under way, with nine companies already in late-stage Phase 3 trials. A spokesperson for the AstraZeneca vaccine said in a statement Tuesday that "we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee. "This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials." The company said that in large trials, illnesses will sometimes happen by chance but must be reviewed independently. AstraZeneca didn't offer further details, but medical news site Stat News, which first reported the volunteer's illness, quoted a source saying it had involved a "serious adverse reaction" to the vaccine.
FTSE 250 - WINNERS
Computacenter, up 1.2%. The IT services firm reported profit growth for the first half, amid an increased demand due to Covid-19 pandemic, and said that it has agreed to buy Pivot Technology Solutions in Canada. Revenue for the first half of 2020 rose 1.5% to GBP2.46 billion from GBP2.43 billion year-on-year, while pretax profit grew by 43% to GBP72.4 million from GBP50.8 million. First half adjusted pretax profit totalled GBP74.6 million, up 39% year-on-year. The IT services firm said significant reductions in spend from industrial customers was offset by new business within the government and financial services sector. Separately, Computacenter said it has agreed to buy Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Pivot Technology Solutions. Computacenter will pay CAD2.60 cash for each Pivot share, the deal worth CAD105.8 million - nearly USD80 million or GBP62 million - based on the firm's 40.7 million shares.
FTSE 250 - LOSERS
JD Wetherspoon, down 6.5%. Leisure stocks were hit after the UK government tightened virus restrictions in England. The legal limit on social gatherings will be reduced from 30 people to six. It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors â€“ including private homes, as well as parks, pubs and restaurants. Some 2,420 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus were recorded in Britain as of 9am on Tuesday, following the 2,988 reported in the UK on Sunday, which was the largest daily figure since May. Marston's was down 8.9% and cinema chain operator Cineworld down 4.7%.
OTHER MAIN MARKET AND AIM - WINNERS
Amryt Pharma, up 46%. The biopharmaceutical company reported positive top line results from its pivotal phase 3 EASE trial of Filsuvez for the treatment of dystrophic and junctional epidermolysis bullosa. EASE is the largest phase 3 trial ever conducted in epidermolysis bullosa, which is a rare, chronic and distressing genetic skin disorder that causes the skin layers and internal body linings to separate. There are currently no approved treatments. The EASE trial was conducted in patients across 58 sites in 28 countries. It comprises a three month double-blind randomised controlled phase followed by a 24 month open-label, single-arm phase. The primary endpoint of the trial was to compare the efficacy of Filsuvez versus control gel according to the proportion of patients with complete closure of the target wound within 45 days of treatment. The primary endpoint was achieved, Amryt said.
OTHER MAIN MARKET AND AIM - LOSERS
Tullow Oil, down 11%. The South America and Africa-focused oil and gas company swung to a loss in the first half of 2020 after writing off more than USD900 million of exploration costs in Kenya and Uganda. Tullow turned to a USD1.31 billion loss for the six months ended June 30 from a USD387.6 million profit the year before. The company wrote off a total of USD941.4 million of exploration costs, compared to just a USD81.2 million write-off a year before. This USD941.4 million figure included a USD429.2 million write-off for Kenya Blocks 10BB and 13T due to a reduced long-term oil price assumption. Tullow also wrote off another USD417.5 million in Uganda in relation to a sale and purchase agreement with Total Uganda, part of Total SE. Under the agreement, Tullow agreed to transfer its interest in blocks Blocks 1, 1A, 2 and 3A in Uganda as well as the proposed East African crude oil pipeline system to Total. Additionally, revenue fell 16% to USD731.0 million in the recent half from USD872.3 million a year before, while cost of sales climbed 51% to USD567.0 million from USD375.1 million, resulting in a sharp gross profit drop of 69% to USD164.0 million from USD526.5 million.
Ryanair, down 2.4%. The Irish low-cost airline has reduced its annual passenger target to 50 million, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary told Reuters in an interview. Ryanair in July had guided to 60 million passengers in its current financial year, ending in March. In the 2020 financial year, Ryanair carried 149 million passengers. O'Leary said Ryanair is now guiding for 50 million passengers for the full year to the end of March, though added that "at the moment the way governments are handling it the risk is to the downside". The CEO told Reuters that fares will also be "aggressively down", and he thinks winter of 2020 "will essentially be a write-off". Other airline stocks were lower, with British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines down 3.3% and easyJet down 4.7%.
By Lucy Heming;Â email@example.com
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