FTSE Today: AstraZeneca soars as FluMist nasal spray gains FDA nod

The FTSE 100 index ended on a high note on Tuesday, propelled by positive data from the US private sector and anticipation surrounding third-quarter results of major US technology firms. The index closed up 14.87 points, marking a 0.2% rise, settling at 7,389.70. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 experienced a dip of 0.4%, closing at 16,994.10, and the AIM All-Share concluded down 1.96 points, a 0.3% decline, at 678.45.

In a notable feat, Rio Tinto emerged as the top performer in the FTSE 100, rising by 3.5% after Barclays upgraded its rating for the London-based mining company to ‘overweight’ from ‘equal weight’. AstraZeneca followed suit, ascending by 3.4%, building on previous gains after the European Commission approved its Enhertu treatment for adult lung cancer patients.

The Cambridge-based pharmaceutical firm, AstraZeneca, achieved a significant milestone on Tuesday, with the US Food & Drug Administration approving the review for its FluMist Quadrivalent self-administered flu vaccine. If granted regulatory approval during the first quarter of 2024, FluMist will become the first self-administered flu vaccine, offering an additional option for influenza vaccinations.

In contrast, Barclays faced challenges as the second-worst performer in the FTSE 100, seeing a decline of 6.5%. Despite a 5.2% year-on-year increase in total income to £6.26 billion, the bank fell short of market expectations, reporting a pretax profit of £1.89 billion for the third quarter, down 4.3% from the previous year. Barclays backed its annual return on tangible equity forecast of ‘greater than 10%’ but adjusted its UK net interest margin guidance to approximately ‘3.05% to 3.10% in 2023’.

In the FTSE 250, CAB Payments saw its shares plummet by 72%. The cross-border payments and foreign exchange firm revised its annual revenue projections downwards, citing challenges that could impact its bottom line.

Softcat, despite reporting ‘another record year’, experienced a dip in performance, with shares falling by 12%. The IT infrastructure and services provider reported a pretax profit of £141.9 million, marking a 4.2% increase, while revenues declined by 8.6% to £985.3 million.

FD Technologies, based in County Down, Northern Ireland, faced a decline of 33% after revealing a pretax loss of £4.5 million for the six months ending August 31. The company’s revenue dropped to £142.5 million from £147.4 million, with expectations for financial 2024 revenue in the range of £285 million to £295 million.

In Wednesday’s UK corporate calendar, market analysts anticipate trading statements from prominent companies including Fresnillo, Ibstock, Lloyds Banking, and Reckitt Benckiser, which are likely to influence the FTSE tomorrow.