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FTSE rises as gaming stocks gain ground

written by Bella Palmer

The FTSE 100 was up 14.30 points, or 0.2%, at 7,480.21

Gambling operators and pharmaceutical firms were in focus in London early Friday in a mixed start to the last day of an eventful week which brought the promise that peak inflation has been reached.

The FTSE 100 was up 14.30 points, or 0.2%, at 7,480.21. The FTSE 250 index was down 17.86 points, or 0.1%, at 20,228.07. The AIM All-Share index was flat at 928.30.

The Cboe UK 100 index was up 0.2% at 747.57. The Cboe 250 was down 0.1% at 17,563.33. The Cboe Small Companies was flat at 14,467.00.

In Paris, the CAC 40 stock index was up 0.3%, while in Frankfurt, the DAX 40 was 0.4% higher.

In the FTSE 100, Flutter Entertainment was the standout performer, up 9.7%. The gambling firm said it is yet to see ‘discernible signs’ of a hit to the business from falling consumer confidence.

Rival Entain was up 2.2% in a positive read-across.

In the six months to the end of June, Flutter's revenue increased 11% to £3.39 billion from £3.05 billion a year earlier. However, it swung to a pretax loss of £51 million from a £77 million profit.

Flutter reported amortisation costs increased 3.6% year-on-year to £286 million. Operating costs were 17% higher at £1.60 billion.

During the half, Flutter said it increased its average monthly players base to players to 8.7 million, 14% higher than the prior year. Flutter said the rapid expansion of its US business FanDuel was key to this growth, along with good underlying player momentum in the UK & Ireland, as well as Australia.

GSK was up 2.4%. The drugmaker said it would ‘vigorously defend all claims’ against Zantac lawsuits, after it was named as a defendant in federal litigation in the US, alongside Sanofi and Pfizer.

Fears about the heartburn treatment have hit the pharma stocks. GSK is down 13% for the week.

Ranitidine, sold under the name Zantac, was offered over-the-counter in the US by French drugmaker Sanofi and was originally manufactured by GSK. Zantac was withdrawn after the US Food & Drug Administration in 2019 warned that the product contained levels of NDMA, a probable human carcinogen - a substance which has been linked to cancer.

GSK said it has been named as a defendant in around 3,000 filed personal injury cases in US federal and state court and ‘numerous’ unfiled claims. Class actions have also been filed, it said.

Sanofi said that as of August 1, it was aware of 2,850 personal injury plaintiffs in the US. When factoring in additional Zantac cases that do not include Sanofi, this number rises to 3,450. The stock was up 0.3% in Paris.

Sanofi noted that there are other potential personal injury claimants who, in lieu of filing a court case, have instead joined a registry of ‘unfiled’ claims.

Pfizer late Thursday said it has ‘significant defences’ against Zantac litigation, while Haleon revealed it is ‘not a party’ to any claims. Pfizer lost 3.3% in New York on Thursday.

Haleon, which is down 14% this week alone, said that it is ‘not primarily liable’ for any over-the-counter or prescription claims involving Zantac. The stock was up 0.3% early Friday.


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