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London Markets: Johnson Matthey leads FTSE after optimistic update, while AstraZeneca sees strength

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Shares of Johnson Matthey rose as much as 8% after the chemicals group and metals refiner said results would come in at the top end of expectations.

Johnson Matthey
JMAT,
+2.84%

said increased activity in automobiles and other key end markets, and cost control, will mean adjusted operating profits at the top end of the £405 million to £502 million consensus.

Johnson Matthey also said it is conducting a strategic review of its health business. Analysts at the brokerage Equita say the sale price “could easily exceed” the £500 million valuation in its sum-of-the-parts valuation.

Laura Hoy, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the sale of the health business could help increase its transition away from making catalytic converters to supplying materials for batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

“The shift toward a more sustainable future hasn’t been lost on JMAT, whose bread and butter is making catalytic converters to strip emissions from traditional car exhausts. With the transition to electric vehicles well under way, the devices could eventually become obsolete and that’s prompted the group to embark on a major strategy shift,” she said.

The environmental theme also was prevalent as miner Anglo American
AAL,
+1.99%

rose after announcing it will spin off its thermal coal operations into a publicly listed company in Johannesburg and London.

The broader FTSE 100
UKX,
+0.37%

rose 0.4%, rising in line with global markets as traders reacted to signs of continued bond purchases by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

AstraZeneca
AZN,
+2.62%

was another gainer, up nearly 3%. The pharmaceutical has been weighed down by continued concerns over the safety of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Cambridge Cognition Holdings
COG,
+1.52%
,
an AIM-listed company, jumped 20% after winning a contract worth £500,000 with a new pharmaceutical client to provide cognitive assessments in an at-home clinical trial. It didn’t name the client, which it said had a pipeline of central nervous system drugs.

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