Investors snapped up shares in biotechnology minnow Novacyt as the coronavirus edged closer to becoming a pandemic.
AIM-listed Novacyt is selling a test for the infection that delivers a result in two hours and doesn’t need a doctor to oversee it.
It was the first company to receive an approval for a Covid-19 test, meaning it complies with EU health and safety rules.
Novacyt has not revealed how many units of the test, which is designed and made in Southampton, it has sold so far.
AIM-listed Novacyt is selling a test for the infection that delivers a result in two hours and doesn’t need a doctor to oversee it
But as the company received a whopping 288,000 inquiries after the news was announced, traders are betting it will be in high demand after the number of global cases topped 77,000, northern Italy went into lockdown and worrying outbreaks emerged in South Korea and Iran.
Its share price tailed off from a high of 166p last week as data over several days showed the spread of the flu-like virus was dropping in China.
But its stock surged 33.3 per cent, or 35p, to 140p last night as outbreaks gained steam elsewhere.
A fellow junior market-listed group, disinfectant maker Tristel, also made gains as analysts said there was the potential for it to benefit from a ‘Covid-19 bonus’.
It closed 10.8 per cent, or 42.5p, up at 437.5p, as it also posted financial results that showed its profit rose in the first half, beating expectations to rise 27 per cent to £2.8million in the six months to December 31.
Stock Watch – Loop Up
Conference call service provider Loop Up plunged 31.5 per cent, or 25.9p, to 56.6p after it warned it might lose more customers than normal in the first six months of this year.
There were disruptions for some users who were moved from a platform provided by Meeting Zone, which it bought in 2018, to its own service.
This could lead to ‘higher than normal churn issues’.
It also said US customers used its software for 8 per cent fewer minutes on average in the second half.
But FTSE 100-listed drug maker Glaxosmithkline, however, failed to be boosted by a collaboration with a Chinese firm to develop a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Glaxo will give Clover Biopharmaceuticals access to ingredients that stimulate an extra immune response, which can help provide immunity for longer and at a stronger rate when compared to just a vaccine alone. But Glaxo fell 1.7 per cent, or 28.4p, to 1629.8p.
Worries about the effect on companies and countries almost across the board meant there were few bright spots in London, with mining companies and airlines hammered especially hard.
The FTSE 100 lost 3.34 per cent, or 247.09 points, to close at 7156.83, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 index shed 3.04 per cent, or 662.33 points, to close at 21,117.87.
One of the few companies staying out of the red was Ascential, which rose 3.8 per cent, or 13.6p, to 367.6p.
Profits at the business data provider and marketing firm, which owns political intelligence brand De Havilland, fell 65 per cent to £10.2million as it spent big.
But revenue rose 19 per cent to £416million on the back of acquisitions, while investors also welcomed news of a £120million share buyback.
Business supplier Bunzl also rose – by 2.7 per cent, or 52.5p, to 2001p – as the takeover-hungry group bought outfits in Brazil and Denmark and flagged that more are in the pipeline.
It sells products that companies need to do business but do not sell directly to customers, such as cleaning equipment, food packaging and hard hats.
Revenue edged 2.7 per cent higher to £9.3billion, while profit before tax rose from £423million to £453million in 2019.
Irish support services group DCC has hired outgoing BP executive Tufan Erginbilgic, who heads its downstream business until the end of March, as a non-executive director. He will join on April 6. DCC fell 4.3 per cent, or 270p, to 5982p.
Blue-chip publishing group Pearson made gains as buyers picked up shares at a cheaper price. It fell on Friday after it said its US education unit was weighing on profits. But it rebounded 3.2 per cent, or 18.2p, to 579.6p.
And Botswana Diamonds rocketed 19.4 per cent, or 0.15p, up to 0.93p, after drilling found kimberlite at a project – it is a type of rock that sometimes contains diamonds.
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