Politics

FTSE 100 makes late dash to keep nose above water but pandemic fears persist

  • FTSE 100 closes up 0.06%
  • Wall Street mixed
  • US inflation rises at fastest monthly pace since 2012

5pm: FTSE closes in positive territory

FTSE 100 index made a late dash and closed in positive territory, just, on Tuesday as pandemic fears still permeated through European markets.

Britain's blue-chip benchmark finished up around three points, or 0.06% at 6,179.

"Dealers are still worried about the rate at which the virus is spreading, and seeing as some restrictions are being reintroduced, that is adding to the bearish move too," noted David Madden, analyst at London-based CMC Markets.

"The US government has hit out against the Beijing administration in regards to its territorial claims in the South China Sea. This represents the latest development in the frosty relationship between the two largest economies in the world. China isnt on great terms with the UK either, as earlier today it was announced the British government basically banned Huawei from its 5G network," he added.

US and Canada 4pm/11 EST

Wall Street was mixed in early deals as earnings season kicks off, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding around 273 points at 26,359. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped around 11 points at 10,379. In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite index was up around 72 points at 15,712.

Proactive North America headlines:

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Hillcrest Petroleum (CVE:HRH) (OTCMKTS:HLRTF) recommences oil production at West Hazel field in western Canada

LexaGene Holdings Inc (CVE:LXG) (OTCQB:LXXGF) hires first wave of experienced sales executives ahead of MiQLab launch

WeedMD (CVE:WMD) (OTCQX:WDDMF) says its cannabis products included in University Health Network national study

Bragg Gaming (CVE:BRAG) (OTCMKTS:BRGGF) says ORYX Gaming subsidiary receives key security designation ahead of Switzerland launch

Nemaura Medical (NASDAQ:NMRD) evaluates new applications for continuous lactate monitoring using its BEAT platform

3.30pm: FTSE 100 still in the red as session enters final hour

Heading into the final hours of Tuesdays session, the FTSE 100 was still trundling its way through negative territory, with the index down 23 points at 6,153 at around 3.30pm.

Leading the risers among the blue-chips was telecoms giant BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A), which was up 3.8% at 115.3p as investors seemed to take the confirmed UK ban of Huawei equipment as a positive for the British telecoms sector. Fellow telco Vodafone Group PLC (LON:VOD) also jumped 1.5% to 126.6p in late afternoon dealing.

On the way down, meanwhile, was Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC (LON:SMT), which dropped 6.7% to 894.5p after it was hit overnight by a US tech stock sell off.

Sentiment is also unlikely to have helped by the bleak forecasts earlier today from the OBR, which said the UK economy is heading for the largest annual decline in gross domestic product (GDP) for 300 years.

2.40pm: Lower start for US markets

Despite hopes of a higher open, Wall Street quickly slipped into the red shortly after the opening bell.

In the first few minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.16% at 26,045, the S&P 500 dropped 0.25% to 3,147 and the Nasdaq fell 0.03% to 10,387.

One thing that was on the rise was US inflation, with data for June showing the cost of consumer goods and services increased for the first time in four months by 0.6%, the biggest such rise since 2012.

Around half the increase was attributed to higher fuel prices amid the rising cost of oil, and despite the increase US inflation has still increased by less than 1% in the prior 12 months, compared to around 2.5% before the pandemic hit the economy.

In London, the FTSE 100 was trading mostly sideways and was down 24 points at 6,151 at around 2.40pm.

2.20pm: US expected to open higher as JP Morgan beats expectations despite sharp earnings drop

Wall Street is expected to open higher on Wednesday after banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Cos (NYSE:JPM) quarterly results beat expectations despite a sharp drop off in earnings.

News that the bank had also set aside a whopping US$10 billion to cover credit losses also failed to deter investors, although it does provide some insight into the state of the coronavirus hit US economy which could hit smaller lenders much harder.

Meanwhile, Citigroup Incs (NYSE:C) results also managed to come in ahead of analyst forecasts, while Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) fell short with deeper than expected losses.

Spread betting quotes point to the Dow, which clawed out an 11 point gain yesterday to close at 26,085, opening at around 26,250, up 165 points.

The S&P 500, which shed 30 points to close at 3,155 on Monday, is seen bouncing back 16 points to 3,171.

Investors are more focused on results from some of the big banks than on new coronavirus cases – or maybe they have just got used to the number of new cases rising.

According to the Johns Hopkins database, there were 58,100 new cases in the US yesterday, up 29.2% on the 45,000 reported on the same day of last week.

“The rate of increase of new cases has nudged up over the past few days but some of this might be due to distortions in the data last week due to the July 4 holiday. We'll have a clearer picture later this week,” said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

New UK cases have nudged up in recent days, with most of the increase in hotspots in a few towns. It's far too soon to think about re-imposing restrictions nationally, but these data have to be watched very close over the next couple weeks,” he added, on the day when it was announced that shoppers in England will be obliged from July 24 to wear a face-covering in-store.

Just a reminder that its a face covering thatll need to be worn in shops in England from July 24th (before everyone panic buys surgical masks, like they did with loo rolls). You can even make your own from a T-shirt. https://t.co/KPrMueB33p

— Tony Shepherd (@tonysheps) July 13, 2020

Back in London, the FTSE 100 shed 37 points and fell to 6,139 shortly before 2.30pm.

12.05pm: Stocks remain mixed after OBR outlines three scenarios, none of them cheerful

The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned the UK is on track to record the largest annual decline in the annual gross domestic product (GDP) for 300 years.

The agency, which was set up to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UKs public finances, has presented three potential scenarios – upside, central and downside – in its latest fiscal sustainability report and all of them start from the premise that output will fall by more than 10% in 2020.

July 2020 scenarios and projections published – more highlights and charts to follow ????

Data and supporting documents are now available on our website: https://t.co/Ejysjvd9Kv#OBRFSR2020 pic.twitter.com/9MLhEHkHcS

— Office for Budget Responsibility (@OBR_UK) July 14, 2020

“Our upside scenario assumes that long-term scarring is avoided, but in the central and downside scenarios it reduces output in the medium term by 3% and 6% respectively,” the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said.

From today's OBR report. https://t.co/KZhkv50vjv

This chart on future unemployment rates is a) incredibly worrying; b) shows the huge uncertainty (look at the difference in 2021Q1 between up and downsides) and c) highlights the gamble that the Chancellor took last week (1/2) pic.twitter.com/KQkLVDe9We

— Mike Brewer (@MikeBrewerEcon) July 14, 2020

Not much seems to upset the equilibrium of equity investors at the moment, except perhaps the possibility of quantitative easing and other measures that help asset owners being withdrawn, and the FTSE 100 is just 16 points (0.3%) lower despite more evidence that a second wave of coronavirus lockdowns might be necessary; yesterday California reimposed lockdown restrictions after a spike in new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

11.35am: Oil giants wanted ahead of OPEC+ pronouncement tomorrow

With a bit of help from oil companies and supermarkets, the Footsies deficit is slowly being whittled away.

The FTSE 100 was down 14 points (0.2%) at 6,162, 69 points above its intra-day low.

Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) and BP PLC (LON:BP.) were both defying the trend, rising more than 2%, as the market awaits the latest pronouncement from the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) on OPEC quotas.

“Oil prices are slipping a little as we await the recommendation from the JMMC on Wednesday. The previous cuts have been a roaring success but producers will quickly find themselves in another mess if they don't get the exit strategy right or repeat the mistakes of earlier this year. I highly doubt the latter but I feel there will be a reduction, it's just a question of how much,” said OANDAs Craig Erlam.

“The best outcome for crude prices would just be a simple one-month extension of the status quo but that may be a little optimistic. OPEC+ needs to tread carefully,” he added.

Oil prices drop due to concerns over demand recovery and OPECs easing of restrictions https://t.co/pJxVApEWi0

— Saudi 24 News (@Saudi24N) July 14, 2020

Supermarkets, which were largely unloved yesterday, fare a bit better today with J Sainshury PLC (LON:SBRY) up 2.2% at 200.1p and Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW) uo 1,7% at 188.4p.

Fellow traveller Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO), the groceries delivery specialist, is off 1.0% at 2,013p after its half-year report.

“Ocado benefited from the sharp increase in online shopping as social distancing rules took hold across the UK. Over the longer-term this is a real catalyst for growth because the online shift is here to stay, its not a flash in the pan. That should bode well for the new retail partnership with M&S, but also crucially for the Solutions business as other retailers will be keen to improve their own digital offerings,” suggested Sophie Lund-Yates, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Ocados eggs are very much in the Solutions basket, and the group has a lot riding on this division coming up with the goods. Ocado came to investors cap in hand to raise substantial extra funds to allow a flurry of investment in this area, which will help it capitalise on the expected increase in demand for its robotic warehouses.

“The concern is theres real pressure for extra partnerships to be struck, and then executed flawlessly. If either of those components falters, so too will the share price, with a price to sales ratio around triple the ten year average,” she noted.

10.10am: Blue-chips regain some of their poise

Londons leading index has recovered a bit of composure after the disappointment of this mornings gross domestic product (GDP) numbers for May.

The FTSE 100 was down 36 points (0.6%) at 6,142.

GDP fell by 19.1% in the three months to May, as government restrictions on movement dramatically reduced economic activity, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

“Having been slower to get to grips with the pandemic, the UK was thus unable to relax its lockdown restrictions as quickly as other European countries. As a result, the rebound in UK economic activity lagged that of its peers,” said Daiwa Capital Markets.

“This mornings ONS data showed that GDP growth in May was even weaker than expected, at just 1.8%M/M [month-on-month] following a drop of more than 20%M/M in April to be down some 24.5% from the level before the pandemic hit in February,” it noted.

“Most of the growth in services in May came from retail and supporting industries (e.g. freight transport and warehousing), as sales rebounded 12.0%M/M, albeit leaving them still some 13.1% below the February level but constraints on other forms of activity meant that growth in many other services was still minimal or even negative again. For example, with negligible growth, the level of output in hospitality was still down some 91.7% from February and value-added of arts and entertainments dropped a further 11.3% to be down more than 54% from February,” Daiwa noted.

Earlier today, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released its sales monitor for June.

Total retail sales were up 3.4% on a year earlier in June as shoppers rushed out to enjoy what had become a novel experience of buying things in a shop that has a physical presence.

Junes rise followed a 5.9% fall in May.

“The BRC's data suggest that the official measure of retail sales recovered fully to its pre-COVID level in June. Year-over-year growth in the official measure of retail sales values has been about two percentage points higher than the BRCs measure on average over the last two years, perhaps because the BRCs data under-weight online sales, which are surging. On this basis, the BRCs data suggest that year-over-year growth in the official measure of sales values recovered to 5.4% in June, from -9.2% in May,” surmised Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The BRCs data, however, are not always reliable; they had pointed to a smaller 4% year-over-year fall in the official measure of sales values in May. Whats more, some of the pick-up in retail sales likely reflects people completing purchases of durable goods that they postponed during the lockdown. In addition, households likely have rebalanced their spending towards goods and away from services, due to virus risks,” Tombs continued.

“Overall spending still is well below its pre-COVID level; indeed, Barclaycard reported that total expenditure was down 14.5% year-over-year in June. Meanwhile, a second wave of job losses when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends, and the looming end to mortgage payment holidays, likely will mean that the funds households have left for discretionary spending do not continue to recover into the second half of this year. Accordingly, Junes retail sales data probably will turn out to be this years peak,” Tombs predicted.

8.45am: Another weak start

It wasnt quite the retreat that was expected with the FTSE 100 down only 47 points early on at 6,128.92.

This compared with pre-market predictions of an 85-point slump, mirroring the declines seen on Wall Street and Asia as some reality was priced into effervescent equity markets.

If there were crumbs of comfort from Mays meagre 1.8% bounce in UK GDP, they werent obvious to the naked eye.

“With the UK economy a quarter smaller in May than in February, were still a very long way from understanding the shape of its return to normal,” said Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity Personal Investments.

“Hopes of a V-shaped recovery are fading fast, and I suspect were looking at something resembling far more of a W – a series of improvements and relapses before a proper recovery takes hold,” he added.

Down 5.5% and top of the Footsie fallers was Halma (LON:HLMA), the maker of life-saving technology, which warned next years profits would likely recede by 5-10% as the coronavirus headwinds continued to be felt.

The whiff of profit-taking accompanied interims from online grocer Ocado (LON:OCDO), whose shares were off 2.5%.

“Over the last three years, the shares have had a stratospheric ascent of over 620%,” said Richard Hunter, stockpicker-in-chief at Interactive Investor.

“Inevitably this performance heightens the bar for expectations and at some point, Ocado will need to shake off its status as a “jam tomorrow” stock. In the meantime, the market consensus of the shares as a hold is perhaps reflective that the shares remain up with events for now, until the next stage of Ocados transformation becomes evident,” Hunter added.

Proactive news headlines:

SDX Energy PLC (LON:SDX) told investors it has sold a non-core asset in the Eastern Desert of Egypt in a deal worth US$3mln. The group said it has sold a 50% working interest in the North West Gemsa licence to Gulf Energy, a private Egyptian company. Some US$1.4mln of the proceeds are being immediately used to discharge the companys remaining liabilities on the licence.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) said it is expecting “record revenue growth ahead of expectations” in the first half of its current year, while end-user spending in the full year is expected to hit £2bn. In a trading update for the six months ended June 30, 2020, the mobile commerce firm said it expects to report revenue growth of over 50% to £4.8mln year-on-year, while adjusted earnings (EBITDA) for the period are predicted to exceed the £450,000 figure for the whole of 2019.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) said its agreement with Draco Ingredients has been extended to include a second product. As well as distributing weight management line SlimBiome in Germany, it is adding to the roster WellBiome, developed to promote gut health. “The introduction of WellBiome gives us the opportunity to extend our product portfolio of functional ingredients with scientifically proven benefits and increase the commercial opportunity,” Andre Wittke, Dracos general manager said in a statement.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) said it has submitted the product dossier for its treatment of erectile dysfunction known as MED3000 for marketing approval in Europe. A further update on MED3000's EU regulatory approval will be made alongside its interim results in September and the target remains a 2021 approval date, the group added. In the US, Futura said that after a second pre-submission meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a pathway to US marketing approval for MED3000 has been established.

AdEPT Technology Group PLC (LON:ADT) said it expects the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have only a modest impact on its business in the medium to long term. At the onset of the pandemic, the information technology and communication services provider conducted some stress tests to see how the company would cope with a sharp fall in activity and in this mornings full-year results statement it reported that in the main, the impact of the lockdown was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. The company had expected that the inability of sales staff to meet potential customers face-to-face would hit orders hard but revealed that new order volumes have proven to be “significantly more resilient” than it had initially modelled in respect of both recurring services and one-off projects. As for the figures for the year to the end of March 2020, AdEPT's revenue increased by 20% to £61.7mln from £51.3mln the year before.

Frontier IP Group Plc (LON:FIPP) said its portfolio firm AquaInSilico has won a €60,000 EIT RawMaterials grant to develop its software designed to optimise wastewater treatment. The IP investor said the grant from the EUs European Institute of Innovation and Technology will allow AquaInSilico to build on its collaboration with a leading European environmental, water and waste management group to commercialise its software tools. The groups technology is designed to remove phosphorus from wastewater in a more environmentally friendly and effective way than existing methods, with the recovered phosphorus then sold for use in fertilisers.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) has boosted sales at the Cobre magnetite project in the US, despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Quarterly sales were up 89% on quarter-end June 2019 and ahead 38% year-on-year. Despite the suspension of mining activities at the adjacent copper mine, operations at Cobre continue to operate under protocols established to ensure contactless sales and have been successful in safeguarding employees and clients to date.

Power Metal Resource PLC (LON:POW) has two key strategic objectives, according to an update document released by the company today. The first is to make one or more major metal discoveries within its gold, base and strategic metal portfolio, and then crystallise the value of such discoveries for shareholders' benefit. The second is to build its working capital and 'balance sheet' toward financial self-sufficiency and to reduce forward reliance on funding from the market to achieve its business objectives.

Circle Property PLC (LON:CRC) said it has collected 91% of rents in the quarter to March 2020 despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In a trading update, the property firm focused on regional offices said current rent collection for the June 2020 quarter currently stands at 77%, but with agreed monthly payments that figure has increased to 91% of rent due. The company also said it is in “constant and constructive dialogue” with its tenants and anticipates its rent collection numbers will “continue to increase”.

Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) is to acquire a royalty on the Spring Hill gold project in Northern Territory, Australia, from Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) (ASX:THR). Trident will pay A$400,000 upfront for the royalty, with further payments due later. The royalty itself is pegged to the gold price and will run at A$5.70 per ounce of gold produced if the gold price goes below A$1,500 per ounce, and at the much higher A$13.30 if gold is higher.

ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADME) has appointed a pair of oil and gas industry veterans, Darrell McKenna and Dr Satinder Purewal, as advisory members to its technical team. McKenna joins as drilling and surface engineering lead, while Purewal brings his expertise to the role of petroleum and reservoir engineering lead. Already on the technical team is Wilhelmus (Wim) Burgers who is the geologist and geophysical lead.

Regency Mines PLC (LON: RGM) has reported a positive outcome from the Wardens Hearing in Papua New Guinea concerning its Mambare nickel project. Regencys joint venture partner attended the hearing. The Warden's Hearing is an important milestone in the process of applying for a mining licence to conduct a direct shipping ore operation over a portion of the Mambare nickel-cobalt project in Papua New Guinea and is considered a broad analogue to local community planning approval in the UK.

[email protected] Capital PLC (LON:SYME) has announced the appointment of Stuart Nelson as Head of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), a newly created position, with immediate effect. The innovative fintech platform firm, which provides inventory monetisation services to European manufacturing and trading companies, pointed out that Nelson is a highly experienced credit analyst, with experience assessing risk across multiple product types and jurisdictions. It noted that he brings nearly two decades of experience to [email protected] and joins from S&P Global Ratings, where he served as senior director.

Clinigen Group PLC (LON:CLIN) said the 2020 financial year was one of strong organic growth, though the headwinds from the coronavirus lockdown were felt in the final quarter. In a trading update ahead of the pharma and services companys September prelims, it said revenues are estimated to have grown by around 17% at constant currencies, or 13% on a gross reported basis for the year to June 30, 2020.

Filta Group Holdings PLC (LON:FLTA), a provider of services to commercial kitchens, said it has seen a gradual improvement in activity recently as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease. Turnover in May was 14% higher than in April while Junes topped Mays by 38%, the group noted in a trading update. The groups sanitisation and protection service, FiltaShield, which was launched in May in response to increased concerns about hygiene, has created a lot of interest and not just in the food and beverage sector. FiltaShield generated around £50,000 in revenue in the week commencing July 6 and the company is confident the top-line will head north as more outlets reopen here and in the USA.

Ceres Power Holdings PLC (LON:CWR) shares held by IP Group Plc (LON:IPO) have been sold to investors via a secondary placing arranged by European investment bank Berenberg. Some 9.1mln Ceres shares were sold at a price of 585p, versus Mondays closing share price of 630p, to generate gross proceeds of around £53.23mln. The shares sold represent around 5.4% of the company, while IP Group retains a 0.2% shareholding in Ceres.

European Metals Holdings Limited (LON:EMH) has signed up German investment banking boutique, DGWA, for investor relations services to build the Lithium-focused firm's profile in Europe. DGWA (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wertpapieranalyse GmbH) is based in Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna and, for EMH, it will assist in the German-speaking financial community where there is significant interest in electric vehicle and energy storage systems.

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) has announced the receipt of the pro-rata contribution from China National Coal Development Company Ltd. (CNCDC) in respect to the $50,000 evaluation fee to the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) as part of the application process for a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the development of the Thar Block VI power plant in Pakistan. Under the agreement announced on February 19, 2020, it was envisaged that each member of the consortium, comprising CNCDC, Oracle and Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum Private Office One Person Company LLC, would contribute its pro-rata share (based on the proposed equity shareholdings set out in the consortium agreement) of the costs associated with the LOI application, being certain fees owed to PPIB. As previously announced, Oracle, on behalf of the consortium, settled the evaluation fee in full in the third week of March 2020. Following the recent payment of £28,263.72 by CNCDC, representing its circa 73% share, each member of the consortium has now paid its proportionate share of the evaluation fee. The company said it believes this payment by CNCDC reinforces its ongoing support for the development of Thar Block VI.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (Read More – Source
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