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FTSE starts new week in slightly stronger mode

Rio Tinto shares were hit after the company decided to abandon plans to IPO its Canadian iron ore operations after six years of trying unsuccessfully. The decline was fairly moderate, down 0.5%, far behind some of today’s bigger fallers such as Whitbread and AstraZeneca. 

The GlaxoSmithKline vs AstraZeneca race to capture the market for ovarian cancer drugs put Glaxo in the lead this morning with the release of the data for its latest drug showing an improvement on AstraZeneca’s most recent product. The two companies are almost neck-a-neck in developing drugs for this specific type of cancer and the release helped Glaxo gain 1.6% while AstraZeneca slipped 1.8%. 

UK GDP, Conservative conference to steer sterling trade

Pound crosses will be in focus in the forex market later this morning after the UK reports its final numbers for second quarter GDP. Brexit uncertainty is expected to have continued to erode GDP growth between April and June compared with the first quarter but year on year GDP should still be showing some improvement. 

Otherwise the pound is a touch firmer as the Conservative Party starts its conference in Manchester which is likely to see a replay of the heated debates at Labour’s party conference witnessed last week as the party remains deeply divided over what course to take next. 

Brent crude is trading just a whisker above $60 after Chinese PMI data showed that the country’s manufacturing is still teetering on the verge of contraction. 

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