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FTSE 100 closes in the red on lacklustre trading day

  • FTSE 100 index closes nearly 42 points off at 6,250
  • US indices lower
  • US retail sales continue to recover in June

5pm: FTSE 100 closes down

FTSE 100 index closed in the red on Thursday as global markets lagged, bereft of any fresh positive stimulus.

Britain's index of leading shares closed the day down nearly 42 points, or 0.67% at 6,250

FTSE 250 was also lower, losing around 99 points, 0.57%, at 17,321.

"Stocks handed back some of yesterdays gains amid a sluggish trading session. The mixed data from China overnight ensured that equities got off to a negative start," said analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets in a note.

On a quarterly basis, the Chinese economy grew by 11.5% – a massive rebound from -9.8% registered in the first quarter, while June's retail sales showed negative growth of 1.8% against a forecast of a positive 0.3% forecast.

On Wall Street, the mood appeared lacklustre too, with big tech is underperforming once again.

US and Canada 4pm/11 EST

US stocks were in the drink in early deals. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 85 points to 26,784. The S&P 500 was off around 23 at 3,203. In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite index shed around ten points at 16,052.

Proactive North America headlines

Benchmark Metals (CVE:BNCH) (OTCQB:CYRTF) signs communications and engagement agreement with Tahltan Central Government for Lawyers gold-silver project

Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc (CSE:AGN) (OTCQB:AGNPF) unveils first US clinical trial site in Florida for Phase 2b/3 human study of Ifenprodil as potential coronavirus treatment

TIMIA Capital (CVE:TCA) (OTCMKTS:TIMCF) receives C$10 million in subscription agreements towards second Limited Partnership

KULR Technology (OTCQB:KULR) signs deal with Volta Energy Products to commercialize its PPR battery safety technology in renewable energy systems

The Valens Company Inc (CVE:VLNS) (OTCQX:VLNCF) sees fiscal 2Q revenue double driven by custom manufacturing and white label business

NetCents Technology Inc (CSE:NC) (OTCQB:NTTCF) names senior Swiss attorney Jannis Flachsmann to its Advisory Board

Aurania Resources (CVE:ARU) (OTCQB:AUIAF) keen to get drilling at Tsenken target in Ecuador after discovering high grade copper-silver

Naturally Splendid (CVE:NSP) (OTCMKTS:NSPDF) satisfied with first quarter results as it continues to grow consumer base and optimize operations

Australis Capital Corp (CSE:AUSA) (OTCMKTS:AUSAF) notes Passport Technology debuts its cashless solutions at two new Alberta-based casinos

Humanigen Inc (OTC:HGEN) bolsters partnership with Catalent to produce lenzilumab for coronavirus trials

4.10pm: Subdued day for UK equities

After sliding for the bulk of the first two hours of trading Londons leading shares steadily whittled away their losses the rest of the day.

The FTSE 100 was down 32 points (0.5%) at 6,261.

2.45pm: US stocks open on the back-foot despite surprisingly good retail sales data

US retail sales rose by 7.5% in June, after rising 18.5% in May.

Economists had expected a rise of 5.0% in June.

“The retail sales data are pleasantly surprising in light of the continued sluggishness in the Redbook chainstore numbers,” said Ina Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Sales were propelled by a doubling in clothing sales, as well as big gains in furniture (+33%), electronics (+37%), sporting goods (+27%), eating/drinking (+20%) and department stores (+20%). Internet sales dipped by 2.4%, after solid increases in the previous three months, as people returned to stores. Note that all these components, except sporting goods, remain below their pre-Covid level, despite two months of big percentage increases,” Shepherdson observed.

Initial claims still counted with seven numbers
Initial jobless claims for the week ending July 11 decreased by 10,000 to 1,300,000 (consensus 1.260 million). Continuing claims for the week ending July 4 decreased by 422… https://t.co/eajzWhUKjd pic.twitter.com/K1gIc5p318

— TJ – UnitedTraders (@SwingingForward) July 16, 2020

US indices opened lower in the wake of the retail sales and unemployment figures.

The Dow Jones index was down 132 points (0.5%) at 26,738 while the S&P 500 was off 18 points (0.6%) at 3,209.

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 26 points (0.4%) at 6,267 and drifting gently sideways.

1.50pm: US jobless claims little changed

First-time jobless claims in the US last week totalled 1.3mln, barely changed from 1.31mln the week before.

Continuing claims, i.e. jobless people who were not laid off last week, edged lower to 17.34mln from 17.76mln the week before.

The FTSE 100 was down 28 points (0.4%) at 6,278.

17 consecutive weeks of more than 1 million new jobless claims.

Are we better off than we were 4 months ago, let alone 4 years ago?

— Jeff Timmer (@jefftimmer) July 16, 2020

12.45pm: European Central Bank stands pat

As expected, the European Central Bank (ECB) left its key refinancing and deposit rates unchanged, at 0.00% and -0.5% respectively.

“The state of the markets and the economy do not necessitate new actions at this point,” said Anna Stupnytska, an economist at fund manager Fidelity International.

“The resolute policy actions undertaken to date have helped ease financial conditions since the peak of the crisis in March. The Governing Council has embedded a lot of flexibility into the current programmes and should the need arise they seem to have adequate room for manoeuvre, particularly given governments' financing needs to tackle the pandemic fallout,” she continued.

“In addition, the virus seems to be well controlled so far and mobility trends have continued on their upward trajectory, despite selective lockdowns recently. Higher frequency signals suggest the Euro area activity continues to pick up pace, although consumer caution and weakness in external demand present significant headwinds for the recovery ahead,” she added.

The FTSE 100 was down 23 points (0.4%) at 6,270.

11.50am: Gilt sales ahoy!

The UKs Debt Management Office revealed that planned gilt (government debt) sales from April to November 2020 inclusive will total a minimum of £385bn.

The estimate of how much the government is set to borrow over the period is based on the governments latest assessment of its financing requirement.

The figure – covering the first eight months of the tax year – is more than has ever been issued in a whole year before.

UK Debt Management Office annual report and accounts, 2019 to 2020 https://t.co/zXZvij658b

— UK government transparency releases (@UkReleases) July 15, 2020

Meanwhile, in the equity markets, the FTSE 100 remains in the doldrums, down 33 points (0.5%) at 6,259.

11.10am: GVC leads the Footsie lower

Londons blue-chips remain lower on balance, with the index led lower by bookie GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) and luxury goods firm Burberry Group PLC (LON:BRBY).

The FTSE 100 was down 41 points (0.6%) at 6,252, with GVC, down 5.6% at 862.4p the biggest faller after the abrupt departure of its boss was announced on the day of a trading update.

Burberry was the next worst performer, tumbling 3.4% to 1,420p after yesterdays fiscal first-quarter trading update in which it warned that margins are being hit.

Insurance giant Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) was off 1.0% at 291.1p after completing the sale of Friends Provident, albeit only 76% of it now rather than the 100% originally envisaged.

Mid-cap Carnival PLC (LON:CCL), the cruises operator, has not had much good news for shareholders of later but the shares perked up a little on news that its Holland America Line has sold off four ships to undisclosed buyers for undisclosed amounts.

Carnival shares rose 0.1% to 1,057p on the news.

9.40am: Soft start despite rebound in Chinese economy

Traders screens are predominantly red this morning despite Chinas economy bouncing back in the second quarter.

The FTSE 100 was down 59 points (0.9%) at 6,234.

Chinese gross domestic product rose 3.2% year-on-year, comfortably ahead of expectations of a 2.4% increase, but that has lent little support to mining stocks, which are in retreat.

Oils, however, are firmer, with BP PLC (LON:BP.) up 0.6% at 312.1p and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) 0.1% higher at 1,260p after OPEC+ extended production cuts.

“OPEC will need to play this carefully – the longer its barrels are off the market the more it could encourage higher cost US oil to come back on," said Neil Wilson at markets.com.

8.45am: Weak start for Footsie

The FTSE 100 got off to a slow start on Thursday with the positivity over more good news on a coronavirus vaccine giving way to the stark economic realities of the pandemic.

The index of UK blue-chips opened 21 points lower at 6,271.82.

The impact of lockdown was in evidence in the latest UK employment figures, which revealed 649,000 people have lost their jobs since the start of the outbreak.

While the furlough scheme has been used to preserve roles, there is a fear it is only putting off the inevitable as businesses look to cut costs to stay afloat.

“Fuelling concerns over the labour market, a substantial number of redundancies have been announced so far in July across a number of sectors, and particularly in the retail sector,” said Howard Archer, of the respected economic think-tank the EY ITEM Club.

On the market, the Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings (LON:GVC) tumbled 5.7% after a dour trading statement in which it said net gaming revenues had tumbled by more than a fifth in the quarter to June 30.

Accompanying the update was the announcement that boss Kenny Alexander is leaving abruptly after 13 years with the group, a period which has seen it transformed from AIM tiddler to FTSE 100 member.

Proactive news headlines:

Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) has said it will provide management services to the Irish business of JOE Media, which runs the number one online-only media platforms in the country. The deal follows an agreement by Greencastle Capital to acquire Maximum Media Network Limited (MMN), through which JOE Medias Irish business operates, with Iconic receiving a monthly management fee of £50,000 plus external costs as well as a 25% share of all profits if certain targets are met. Iconic, which specialises in digital media, is already managing all operational and commercial aspects of the JOE Media businesses in the UK and will run the Irish business once the Greencastle acquisition of MMN is completed, expected within two months.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) told investors that it has successfully restructured its relationship with Argentinean firm Compañia General de Combustibles (CGC) with a new arrangement that puts an immediate focus on optimising capital allocation. The small-cap exploration and production firm said that the new terms allow it to cease commitments to ongoing pre-drill expenditure at Tapi Aike. It will at least temporarily withdraw from the project, which was 19% owned by Echo. It will retain an ability to re-enter the western cube of the licence area. "We have taken a series of steps in recent months to reinforce our financial platform and deliver innovative mechanisms to reduce upfront cost while maintaining both exploration and development optionality,” Martin Hull, chief executive officer of Echo Energy said in a statement.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) said a phase 3 drilling programme at the Pandora gold project in Djibouti has delivered “a number of significant intersections”. The AIM-listed explorer said the 13-hole programme included a near-surface interval of 16.86 metres grading at 1.42 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, with mineralisation predominantly related to quartz vein and hydrothermal silica breccia, with associated demagnetisation of the basalt host rocks. The highest grades were related to the presence of sulphide-rich chalcedonic silica and it said that there is “good potential for resource delineation in the structural zone between the Pandora and Pyrrha veins, subject to further exploration and infill drilling”.

LoopUp Group PLC (LON:LOOP), the remote meetings company, said it has seen revenue shoot up during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown period and it expects to exceed market expectations for the full year in terms of revenue, underlying earnings (EBITDA) and cash generation. Revenue in the first half of 2020 jumped by 43% to £31.9mln from £22.3mln in the first half of last year, with the gain attributed by the company to the large-scale migration towards working from home associated with COVID-19. EBITDA soared 249% to £12.2mln from £3.5mln as the company saw particularly strong growth in the use of its higher-margin LoopUp Meetings and Event by LoopUp offerings.

Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has built on its deal with the US drug developer Mallinckrodt, which is licensing two additional assets from the UK firm in a deal that could ultimately be worth in excess of US$1.4bn. Initially, however, the figures involved are more modest. The gene silencing specialist will fund all pre-clinical activity after which it will receive a US$2mln milestone payment. It is then eligible to receive up to US$10mln in research milestones per complement-targeted RNAi asset, and up to US$703mln per asset in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones. Silence will also receive tiered, low double-digit to high-teen royalties on net sales of any finished drug.

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF) (OTCQB:NQMIY) said it has reached an agreement with ING Bank which will provide US$41mln as corporate debts written in 2017 and 2018 are restructured. The restructuring of the debts, incurred in the delivery of the Hellyer gold mine to production, sees an earlier repayment than under the prior terms. It will accordingly save around US$2.5mln of interest expenses per year, NQ noted. “NQ looks forward to the start of a productive working relationship with ING,” David Lenigas, NQ chairman said in a statement.

Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (LON:TLSA) (NASDAQ:TILS) has submitted a patent application that could help unlock the true potential of a promising form of cancer immunotherapy. It wants to use Foralumab, its fully human anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, to improve the success of CAR-T therapy. CAR-T uses T cells from the patients own immune system to tackle the disease. Simply put, they are genetically engineered and “supercharged” to hunt down and destroy cancer cells. The major problem with the approach is relapse rates are high, limiting the scope of its use. Tiziana chief executive Dr Kunwar Shailubhai and his team believe an improved CAR-T therapy can be achieved through using anti-CD3 monoclonal antibodies such as Foralumab on its own or with other “co-stimulatory molecules”.

World High Life PLC (LON:LIFE) said its subsidiary, Love Hemp, has launched a new consumer brand called Buzz Leaf targeted at a younger demographic in order to grow market share. The cannabidiol (CBD) group said the Buzz Leaf brand will have more freedom on the types of product categories it includes, from vapes to full-spectrum CBD oils and enhancement products such as hangover remedies or cognition and libido enhancers. Buzz Leafs product range also includes the release of four broad-spectrum CBD infused e-liquids with added terpenes that will be available exclusively at cbdoilsuk.com.

Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) has published a paper highlighting a study into the benefits of PT20 as a treatment for people with the kidney disease hyperphosphatemia. Published recently in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, the paper detailed the results of a phase IIb study for PT20, an iron-based phosphate binder. Hyperphosphatemia is a condition where due to renal failure there is too much phosphorus present in the blood. Shield said that the study demonstrated that PT20 treatment for 28 days resulted in a statistically significant and dose-dependent reduction in serum phosphate concentration and was generally well tolerated.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) said it has continued to produce high-grade lithium from metallurgical work on ore from its Mina do Barroso project in Portugal. Conventional processing of concentrate from the Grandao deposit using calcination/acid roasting and water leaching extracted up to 94.6% lithium. A planned third stage of treatment to produce battery-grade chemicals has been temporarily postponed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions in the US.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC (LON:GSF), the industrial battery investor, posted a total return of 10.6% in the year to end-March, 2020. Net asset value rose 3% to 94.6p, while the trust also paid out a dividend of 7p for the first time, in line with its target. During the year, the trust raised £20.5mln with an additional £23.7mln raised since the end of the year. The size of the portfolio increased to 189Mw with an additional 50Mw added subsequently while the total pipeline of possible investments is now up to 900Mw.

Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) has announced the acquisition of the Dotted Lake exploration property approximately 20 kilometres (km) from Barrick Gold Corporation's renowned Hemlo Gold Mine. The company, which is focused on mineral exploration in Canada and Australia, has agreed to pay the vendors a total cash consideration of C$20,000 for the 100% acquisition of the claims that make up the Dotted Lake exploration property. These claims are free of any underlying instruments or royalties. The Dotted Lake property consists of 39 cells approximately 20km north-northeast of the Barrick-owned Hemlo Gold Mine, which has produced over 21 million oz of gold over 30 years. Gold prospects on the property include 23.3 grams per ton (g/t) of gold over 0.3 metres (m) and 9.02 g/t over 0.4m from channel sampling, the group said.

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