1156 GMT - Close Brothers Group's capital outlook could be supported by a sale of its asset management division, JPMorgan says in a note pointing to a Bloomberg Law report from July citing sources indicating an around GBP300 million valuation for the unit. "A sale of the AM division would provide a buffer to absorb capital headwinds, further support to the group's progressive dividend policy--and potential excess distributions--and drive further growth for the business which has historically outperformed when system-liquidity tightens," analysts write. JPM expects more clarity on the U.K. merchant banking group's operating leverage and capital outlook at its full-year results on Tuesday. The U.S. bank raises its rating on the stock to neutral from underweight and keeps a 940 pence price target. (elena.vardon@wsj.com)


European Stocks Fall as Asia Property Worries Weigh

1035 GMT - European stocks drop after mixed Asia trading and ahead of an expected slightly lower U.S. open. The Stoxx Europe 600, CAC 40 and FTSE 100 retreat 0.5% and the DAX backtracks 0.7%. Brent crude gains 0.2% to $92.13 a barrel, though metal prices drop, mining stocks lose ground and mainland Chinese and Hong Kong shares fell following downbeat news from China's property sector. "Evergrande is back centre stage after saying it was struggling with its debt-restructuring plan following poorer-than-expected sales, causing its shares to dive and taking the Hang Seng index down for the ride," AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould writes. IG futures data show the Dow opening at 33959, versus Friday's close of 33963. (philip.waller@wsj.com)


AstraZeneca Investors Are Overlooking Non-Cancer Drugs

1016 GMT - AstraZeneca is among a handful of FTSE 100 risers, up 1.6% at 11,216 pence after Jefferies upgrades the drug company to buy from hold. Beyond its cancer drugs, the market is largely ignoring the group's other research and development assets, which offer significant scope for sales and earnings-per-share gains above consensus expectations, Jefferies says. "We argue focus on the oncology pipeline has unfairly overlooked the breadth of other opportunities," Jefferies analysts say in a note, also increasing their price target on the shares to 13,000 pence from 10,500 pence. (philip.waller@wsj.com)


ACEA Says EU, UK Trade Rule Will Cost Car Makers EUR4.3 Bln Over Three Years

1011 GMT - The European Automobile Manufacturers Association says that trade rules starting in 2024 could cost European Union car makers up to EUR4.3 billion over the next three years. The deal, part of the U.K.-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, is supposed to encourage the use of car parts made in the two blocs and places a 10% tariff on vehicles transported between the EU and the U.K. that don't meet the criteria. The ACEA says the rule forces electric-vehicle costs higher because the industry isn't ready to source battery materials in the EU and U.K. "This is practically impossible to achieve today," says the industry group, known as ACEA, which wants the rule's start delayed for three years. (david.sachs@wsj.com)


Invinity Energy Systems' Rechargeable Battery Looks Cost Competitive

1006 GMT - Invinity Energy Systems' rechargeable battery Mistral is increasingly becoming cheaper to produce, nearing costs for lithium-ion, while still offering far better operating life and performance than lithium-ion batteries, Canaccord Genuity's analysts Alex Brooks and Salvatore Verdoliva say in a note. "Whilst vanadium flow batteries have numerous operational advantages, being able to approach lithium-ion capital costs demonstrates the significant cost advantages Invinity is delivering through Mistral," the analysts say. The 84 megawatt-hour contract award from the U.S. Department of Energy underpins the battery maker's position as a key provider of utility-scale electricity storage, "with a highly attractive growth runway ahead of it and an increasingly wide footprint and market knowledge," they say. Shares are up 13% at 49.50 pence. (christian.moess@wsj.com)


Entain's Performance Could Revive Bid Interest From MGM Resorts

0946 GMT - If Entain's share price and performance remain depressed, MGM Resorts' historic bid interest could have the potential to be revived, AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould says in a note. The company faces increased regulation as the social harm from gambling compels governments to intensify efforts to curtail the effect of betting outlets, pushing companies to spend more on measures mitigating problem gambling, he says. The owner of Coral and Ladbrokes may be making optimistic assumptions regarding its 4Q performance as it sticks with forecasts, which may fail to materialize and result in a damaging profit warning down the line, he says. Furthermore, if it cuts marketing spend, that could also lead to a loss of market share and store up problems for the future, Mould says. (anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com)

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-25-23 1222ET