BUSINESS LIVE: GSK to appeal US court ruling; Lord Ashcroft to chair Marlowe; Franchise Brands ups guidance

The FTSE 100 is up 0.7 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are GSK, Marlowe, Franchise Brands, WH Ireland and Frasers Group. Read the Monday 3 June Business Live blog below.

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Market open: FTSE 100 up 0.7%; FTSE 250 adds 0.6%

London-listed stocks have kicked off the week on the front foot, echoing counterparts in Asia, as investors anticipate a rate cut by the European Central Bank, while drugmaker GSK keeps gains in check..

The ECB will meet later this week where investors expect it to trim borrowing costs by a quarter point.

Analysts predict the Bank of Englandto closely shadow the ECB’s movements, positioning itself to quickly follow suit in initiating the rate-cutting cycle.

The BoE will meet two weeks from now to take a call on interest rates in Britain.

Investors will also closely monitor a slew of economic data set to drop this week, including domestic manufacturing data for May due later in the day.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has gained 1 per cent after Blackstone sweetened its offer for the music rights investor by a cent to $1.31 from $1.30 as part of a revised bid.

GSK has dropped 9.5 per cent after a Delaware ruling allowed more than 70,000 lawsuits to proceed over its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac.

St. James’s Place is the top gainer on the benchmark index, with a 5.6 per cent jump, after JP Morgan upgraded its rating on the stock to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’.

GSK to appeal US court ruling

GSK will seek an appeal after a US judge ruled more than 70,000 lawsuits over discontinued heartburn drug Zantac to go forward, with expert witnesses permitted to testify in court that the drug may cause cancer.

The ruling on Friday by Judge Vivian Medinilla of the Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington is a setback for GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim, which had argued that the expert witnesses’ opinions lacked scientific support.

GSK said in a statement this morning:

‘GSK disagrees with the ruling by the Delaware State Court and will immediately seek an appeal.

‘The decision by the State Court contradicts the Federal Court’s MDL ruling under the same legal standard, which dismissed all cases alleging five cancer types, in December 2022.

‘GSK will continue to vigorously defend itself against all claims and manage this litigation in the best interests of shareholders. Alongside immediately seeking an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, the Company will file motions for dismissal pressing additional defenses, severance of cases, and proof-of-use by claimants; and, at the same time, the Company will progress to trials of individual cases.’

I can’t make Royal Mail promises on stamp prices, says Czech Sphinx

The would-be owner of Royal Mail Daniel Kretinsky has refused to rule out further price hikes for first class stamps.

The billionaire – nicknamed the ‘Czech Sphinx’ – has suggested costs could continue to spiral in coming years.