(Alliance News) - The following is a summary of top news stories Friday.
AstraZeneca said its drug Imfinzi has been approved in Japan to treat extensive-stage small cell lung cancer, an aggressive and fast-growing cancer that usually recurs and progresses quickly. Imfinzi, the brand name for durvalumab, was approved by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare based on positive results from Astra's phase 3 Caspian trial. The approval is for Imfinzi in combination with etoposide plus platinum chemotherapy. The Caspian trial showed the drug plus chemotherapy achieved "a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival" compared to chemotherapy only. Caspian met the primary endpoint of overall survival with chemotherapy in June 2019, reducing risk of death by 27% versus chemotherapy alone. Median overall survival was 13.0 months, compared to 10.3 months with just chemotherapy.
Pfizer said late Thursday that following positive phase one trial data for its potential Covid-19 vaccine BNT162b2, it is on track for a regulatory review by October, which could lead to the global supply of up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020. The US drugmaker, in partnership with German company BioNTech, released key safety and immunogenicity data from the US phase one trial for the vaccine candidate, which at 30 micrograms demonstrated strong immunogencity in younger and older adults, seven days at after the second dose. In addition, the BNT162b2 administration was well tolerated, with a mild to moderate fever in fewer than 20% of the participants.
London shares were slightly higher with the FTSE 100 overturning earlier losses as the pound weakened after negative Brexit comments from Brussels. The euro was down against the dollar after data showed business activity across the eurozone slowed in August. US stock market futures were pointed to a flat open.
FTSE 100: up 0.1% at 6,019.37
FTSE 250: up 0.2% at 17,529.03
AIM ALL-SHARE: down 0.1% at 956.12
GBP: flat at USD1.3163 (USD1.3160)
EUR: down at USD1.1816 (USD1.1849)
GOLD: down at USD1,933.55 per ounce (USD1,946.90)
OIL (Brent): flat at USD44.58 a barrel (USD44.64)
(changes since previous London equities close)
ECONOMICS AND GENERAL
The UK has accused the EU of making post-Brexit negotiations "unnecessarily difficult" and warned "time is running short for both sides" as talks threatened to stall. David Frost, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief negotiator, said he believes a trade deal is still possible but warned "there has been little progress" after seven rounds. His EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, also lamented the failure to make a breakthrough on the key area of fisheries where there has been "no progress whatsoever". After a breakfast meeting between the top negotiators on Friday, Frost said: "We have had useful discussions this week but there has been little progress." Frost blamed the EU position on state aid and fishing policy as being a key stumbling block. Barnier told reporters after the seventh round of talks with Britain ended in Brussels he was "disappointed and concerned and surprised" by the lack of progress.
Business activity across the UK continued to gain traction in August, growing at its fastest pace since 2013, according to figures from IHS Markit. The UK services purchasing managers' index reading was 60.1 in August, up from 56.5 in July. The figure beat the consensus estimate, cited by FXStreet, of 57.0. This was the strongest rate of growth for six years, according to Markit. The UK manufacturing PMI score was 55.3 in August, up from 53.3 in July. The print beat the consensus estimate of 53.8. The UK composite output index registered 60.3 in August, up from 57.0 in July. The August print signalled the fastest rate of business activity expansion since October 2013. All three readings continued to post above the 50.0 mark which separates expansion from contraction.
UK retail sales rose in July as lockdown restrictions were relaxed, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. UK retail sales were up 1.4% in July on an annual basis, having decreased 1.6% in June. Market consensus, according to FXStreet, was for zero annual growth. On a monthly basis, UK retail sales were up 3.6% in July, having jumped 14% in June. The reading beat market consensus for a 2.0% monthly rise.
UK public sector borrowing hit more than GBP2 trillion for the first time in history, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The ONS said that in July the public sector spent more money than it received in taxes and other income, borrowing GBP26.7 billion, compared to a small repayment a year ago. Total public sector net debt excluding public sector banks exceeded GBP2 trillion for the first time at the end of July, the ONS said. Since April, the UK has borrowed GBP150 billion, which is GBP128 billion more than a year ago as costs to support the economy mount.
Business activity across the eurozone dropped in August, but still remained at expansion levels, data from IHS Markit revealed. The flash Eurozone purchasing managers' composite output index declined to 51.6 in August, compared to July's final reading of 54.9 in July, mainly driven by a drop in the services sector and a dip in manufacturing. The flash Eurozone services PMI activity index dropped to 50.1 in August from 54.7 in July, while the flash Eurozone manufacturing PMI index was 51.7 compared with 51.8 the month before. IHS Markit said its PMI reading signalled a slowdown in the pace of output growth, following the first expansion of activity in five months shown in July.
Joe Biden accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party to become president of the US, in a resounding speech Thursday that sharply denounced President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The mostly-forward looking address from the former vice president declared that "hope is more powerful than fear," and vowed to get a grip on the virus and the recession from the first day of a Biden presidency, including by enforcing a mask mandate. The forceful address, given without a crowd because of the pandemic, and therefore lacking the normal cheers and applause, seemed also designed to lay to rest attacks on Biden from the Trump camp that the 77-year-old had become mentally feeble.
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