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It's all (about) the election stupid

Election to dominate as polls suggest a turbulent week ahead while cancer forum will put spotlight on pharma
Theresa May
A shoe-in? No way says the polls

It’s not just the Tories who are getting pre-election nerves.

Sterling and the FTSE are set to wobble ahead of Thursday’s general election as Labour continues to narrow the gap on the Conservatives in the latest polls.

Prime Minister Theresa May was predicted to be a shoe-in when she first announced the decision to bring the election date forward three years.  But the Tory lead has shrunk in the most recent polls.

Pollster YouGov has the Conservatives ahead at three points over Labour, down a point since last week and pointing to a hung parliament. The ICM/Guardian poll has the Tory lead at 12 points, down by two points.

The latest polling averages put the Conservatives at 46.2% and Labour at 26.2% while the Liberal Democrats are at 10.9% and UKIP is at 7.0%.

The dividing line is age. Labour has a 19 point lead among 18-24 year-olds with its plans for free tertiary education while the Conservatives continue to be popular among the over 65s with a 49-point lead.

HSBC said if the YouGov poll is right, we might be heading for hung parliament and that could mean carnage for markets.

The bank suggests the Conservatives might be able to band together with the Lib Dems, independents and Northern Irish unionists to secure a majority.

“If they failed, though, it would fall to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to try to form a government, with the SNP the most viable partner,” HSBC said.

“This would likely be a big upset to the markets, implying an administration with little experience of government handling the Brexit negotiations, a higher deficit and debt levels and possibly a second Scottish independence referendum.”


Cancer forum to give updates on cure progress

It’s also a big week for the pharmaceutical industry with the annual meeting of the American Society of Clincial Oncology (ASCO for short), where companies and industry opinion formers gather to update on the progress of their cancer research and progress on new treatments.

Immuno-oncology or helping the body’s own immune system to deal with the threat of cancerous cells is where the big money is being spent with notable advances already being notched up by Merck with Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo.

Here in the UK, AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) also has key trials due to report top line data very soon.

The most important of which is the phase III MYSTIC trial for lung cancer. This is designed to test Imfinzi  (durvalumab) as a single treatment and also in combination with tremelimumab versus  standard-of-care chemotherapy.

Endpoints are tough, with progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival endpoints in patients with PDL1-expressing tumours as well as in ‘all comers’ for the combination of durva/treme, though Astra received a big boost last month.

An Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) concluded that the trial has already met a primary endpoint by showing statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful PFS in patients with unresectable (Stage III) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer at AstraZeneca, said: "These are highly encouraging results for patients with locally-advanced lung cancer for whom surgery is not an option.

AstraZeneca is scheduled to present at ASCO on 5 June.

But it is not just the giants that will present at the meeting.

Nano-treatment pioneer Nanobiotix (EPA:NANO) will present data from its phase I/II head and neck cancer trial for lead product NBTXR3 ahead of the next stage of clinical trials, a decison on which will be influenced by the data to be presented.


CMC Markets adjusting after crackdown

After IG Group PLC (LON:IGG) pleased the market this week with an upbeat trading statement, despite a quiet fourth quarter in financial markets and regulatory concerns, investors will eye full-year results from rival spread betting firm CMC Markets Plc (LON:CMCX) due on Thursday.

Back at the end of March, CMC repeated its full year guidance for a decline in net operating income as regulators crack down on the industry.

READ: CMC Markets expects drop in operating income amid strict new rules on spread betting

The company said it had grown customer numbers during the year despite the impact of stricter rules on contract-for-difference (CFD) products, while revenue had been modestly higher during the second half of the financial year as costs remained broadly in line with first half.

Regulatory issues remain key for the firm, with CMC’s shares having plunged by more than a third in December after the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced tighter regulation for spread betting firms.

CMC has noted that the FCA’s consultation into spread betting closed on March 7 and the company made an “extensive and thorough submission”.

Last month, CMC and IG both welcomed the outcome of a consultation by German regulator BaFin into the retail contracts-for-difference industry in country, as both firms said they already comply with the upcoming changes.


Announcements due

Monday 5 June

ASCO meeting (Chicago 2- 6 June)

Tuesday 6 June

Interims: Oxford Metrics Plc(LON:OMG); Gooch & Housego PLC (LON:GHH)

Finals: Acal Plc (LON:ACL); GB Group PLC (LON:GBG); WYG PLC (LON:WYG); Carclo PLC (LON:CAR); FreeAgent Holdings PLC (LON:FREE); BP Marsh & Partners PLC (LON:BPM); AO World (LON:AO.)

Trading Statements: Joules Group PLC (LON:JOUL); International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG)

Wednesday 7 June

Finals: Ramsdens Holdings PLC (LON:RFX); RPC Group PLC (LON:RPC); Tricorn Group PLC (LON:TCN); Workspace Group plc (LON:WKP); Picton Property Income Ltd (LON:PCTN); Grafenia (LON:GRA); Biotech Gwth (LON:BIOG)

Thursday 8 June

UK election polling

Trading update: PLC (LON:BOO)

Finals: CMC Markets Plc (LON:CMCX); FlyBe (LON:FLYB);
First Property Group PLC (LON:FPO); Auto Trader Group Plc (LON:AUTO); Volex Group PLC (LON:VLX)

Friday 9 June

UK election result

Finals: Fuller Smith & Turner PLC (LON:FSTA)

AGMs: Deltex Medical Group plc (LON:DEMG); MP Evans Group (LON:MPE); Richoux Group plc (LON:RIC), TomCo Energy Plc (LON:TOM)


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