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FTSE 100 dips, AstraZeneca surges, house prices higher in February

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© Reuters. LIVE: FTSE 100 dips, AstraZeneca surges, house prices higher in February

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FTSE 100 down 6 points at 7,705.
Curry’s takeover bid rejected.
AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) surges.

House prices see first rise in six months

House prices have moved upwards for the first time since July this month, offering renewed optimism for the downtrodden market.

Prices increased by 0.1% year-on-year over the start of February and added £3,091 from last month to reach an average £362,839, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

“Mortgage rates have fallen considerably from their peak and are now remaining broadly stable after the uncertainty of late 2022 and 2023,” Rightmove’s Tim Bannister commented.

“Momentum to move in 2024 is continuing to build, but prospective sellers mustn’t get carried away. Buyers now have more choice of property for sale and many are still very price-sensitive, with mortgage rates remaining elevated.”

Rightmove added that increasing numbers of both buyers and sellers were now coming to market, but that properties were still taking longer on average to sell than last year.

The morning so far

AstraZeneca was top of the FTSE 100 movers table this morning. The pharma giant rallied nearly 4% after it emerged that its drug Tagrisso, with the addition of chemotherapy, has been approved in the US for lung cancer patients.

The approval followed a priority review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on the results from the FLAURA2 Phase III trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

It showed Tagrisso slowed disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer.

High-street electronics retailer Currys (LON:CURY) surged by a third after rejecting a £700 million takeover bid from Elliot Advisers.

“The board of Currys considered the proposal, together with its financial advisors, and concluded that it significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects,” said the group.

Separately, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com confirmed a Telegraph report on the weekend that it is also considering a takeover offer for Currys.

“In response to the recent press speculation regarding Currys, JD.com confirms that it is in the very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Currys,” said the group.

Moneysupermarket.com (LON:MONY) unveiled its preliminary results for the year ended December 31, 2023, which showed total revenues increasing 11% to £432.1 million.

Growth was spearheaded by the Insurance sector, which saw a notable 28% increase in revenue as high premium inflation continued, driving high search traffic and a surge in consumers switching home and car cover providers.

On the macroeconomic calendar, a jump in house prices in Rightmove’s monthly survey offered a ray of light.

Average new seller asking prices rose by 0.9% (or £3,091) to £362,839, in line with the seasonal rise that is traditional in February, according to the property website.

Prices on average are now up by 0.1% compared to February last year, following annual falls in every month since August 2023.

AstraZeneca seen higher following Tagrisso approval

AstraZeneca shares swung nearly 4% higher this morning after it emerged that its drug Tagrisso (osimertinib), with the addition of chemotherapy, has been approved in the US for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated (EGFRm) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The approval followed a priority review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on the results from the FLAURA2 Phase III trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

It showed Tagrisso slowed disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Business Unit, said: “This important new treatment option can delay disease progression by nearly nine additional months, establishing a new benchmark with the longest reported progression-free survival benefit in the 1st-line advanced setting.

“This approval reinforces Tagrisso as the backbone of EGFR-mutated lung cancer treatment either as monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy.

“This news is especially important for those with a poorer prognosis, including patients whose cancer has spread to the brain and those with L858R mutations.”

Shares were swapping for 10,482p as of 8.30am.

JD.com confirms bid for Currys

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has confirmed a Telegraph report on the weekend that it is considering a takeover offer of British high-street electronics retailer Currys.

“In response to the recent press speculation regarding Currys, JD.com confirms that it is in the very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Currys,” said JD.com.

“There can be no certainty that any offer will ultimately be made for Currys, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.

Under City rules, JD.com must now announce a firm intention to bid for Curry’s, or announce that it does not intend to make an offer, by 18 March.

Currys today nixed a takeover bid from Elliot Advisers’ £700 million conditional offer, stating: “The board of Currys considered the proposal, together with its financial advisors, and concluded that it significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects.”

Shares flew 32% higher to 62.16p in opening Monday exchanges.

Hipgnosis launches High Court claim against founder

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited (LON:SONG) has initiated a High Court lawsuit against its founder and previous investment advisor, Merck Mercuriadis, along with his firm, Hipgnosis Songs Management.

The music royalty enterprise announced its intention to file a Part 20 claim in the High Court, aiming for comprehensive indemnification from Mercuriadis and HSM.

The goal for Hipgnosis is to shield itself against potential liabilities stemming from the alleged improprieties of Mercuriadis during his leadership tenure.

This legal action follows the fund’s announcement earlier in the month about its intentions to secure an indemnity from Merck Mercuriadis and Hipgnosis Songs Management Limited, a company primarily controlled by funds managed by Blackstone (NYSE:BX).

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