Politics

FTSE 100 pares losses; housebuilders higher on easier lockdown restrictions

  • FTSE falls 55 points
  • Housing market allowed to restart
  • UK GDP down 5.8% in March

9.30am: housebuilders higher on easier lockdown restrictions

The Footsie pared its losses in mid-morning as the market still digests the latest figures on the UK economy.

Londons big caps shed 55 points to 5,939 as sterling rose 0.1% to US$1.2272.

The woes of TUI, Carnival, easyJet and International Consolidated Airlines dragging the index down were helped by housebuilders benefitting from looser lockdown rules.

Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) was up 2% to 4,178p, while Barratt Developments Plc (LON:BDEV) and Taylor Wimpey plc (LON:TW. both rose 1% to 498.1p and 147.4p respectively.

Taylor Wimpey announced plans to reopen sales centres and show homes gradually from 22 May following updated UK government guidance on coronavirus.

Initially this will be for pre-booked appointments and with strict social distancing rules, the company said.

Perspex screens and distance marker guides will be installed with show home viewings unaccompanied and limited to one family at a time to view each house.

Since the UK implemented a lockdown in March, people could move if “reasonably necessary” but property viewings were halted and offices were shuttered.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said these operations were allowed to resume, although virtual viewings are encouraged “where possible”.

Jenrick said the new measures unblock 450,000 transactions put on hold during the coronavirus outbreak.

8.35am: Weak start to Wednesday

The FTSE 100 opened down around 1% on Wednesday after the UK economy recorded its worst-ever monthly contraction – with the promise of worse to come as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rolls on.

The index of UK blue-chips fell 62 points to 5,932.49 in early trading.

Uk gross domestic product fell by 5.8% in March, according to official figures. This was the period in which the lockdown just started to kick in, so not a great deal of cheer was garnered from the fact the number was marginally better than expected.

“In essence, theres not much in this data to offer too much in the way of comfort, as we know April and May are likely to be much worse, as the UK economy starts to take very baby steps out of lockdown this morning,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

“As we look ahead to the summer months it's likely to be a long and winding road, towards restarting the economy.”

Internationally, sentiment has been driven by a potential second wave of coronavirus infections in those countries deemed to have recovered early from the pandemic.

On the market, the travel stocks were again in the doldrums after UK health secretary Matt Hancock effectively cancelled the collective overseas holiday plans of the population on Tuesday.

Intercontinental Hotels (LON:IHG) led the Footsie fallers with a 4.5% decline, followed by cruises operator Carnival (LON:CCL), off 4.2%.

On the rise was building supplies specialist Ferguson (LON:FERG), whose latest update on trading was bad, but a smidgeon less bad than expected. The shares nosed 2.2% higher.

Proactive news headlines:

Gaming Realms PLC (LON:GMR) announced it has signed an agency agreement with Hasbro Inc (NASDAQ:HAS) for the play and entertainment firm to negotiate licensing opportunities for its Slingo brand. The AIM-listed company said the deal will enable Hasbro to provide licensing opportunities for new and existing territories in certain digital gaming categories outside the online real money gaming and lottery segments. Gaming Realms added that it selected Hasbro to supplement its licensing business based on its status as a top 6 global licensor as well as its “long and successful track record of licensing well-known game brands into a wide range of digital game and gambling categories with major digital gaming companies including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Scopely and Scientific Games”.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) chairman David Bramhill has told investors that excellent progress is being made bringing the Wressle oil field in North Lincolnshire to development. It comes as the project's operator confirmed the completion of four groundwater monitoring boreholes on the Wressle site, which are required under the projects approvals, and a three-month period of monitoring and analysis will now take place. "Excellent progress is being made in respect of the development process at Wressle leading to 'first oil', expected during H2 2020,” Bramhill said in a statement.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) said it has completed its initial earn-in work for Venus Minerals Ltd, a firm focused on copper-gold projects on the island of Cyprus. AIM-listed Ariana said it had spent €920,000 in the initial earn-in, giving it a holding in Venus of 9.24%, adding that it is committed to funding a minimum of a further €180,000 before October, at which time it will own a 12% stake. The company will earn-in up to 50% of Venus once it has committed a total of €3mln, with a further €1.9mln required to be spent between October 2020 and October 2022. Ariana also said that new licence applications for the New Sha Deposit, part of the Venus portfolio, have been submitted, adding that exploration results to date across the portfolio are “highly encouraging” including the discovery of a new zone of outcropping mineralisation at the Mariner project.

Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) chief executive Michael Foster said he expects his team to make significant progress validating the thesis that its Botswana target is host to a “world-class” copper, nickel and platinum group deposit. His comments were made as the mine developer outlined a comprehensive early-stage exploration plan for the Kalahari Suture Zone, or KSZ for short. The idea of the programme is to identify “high-potential drill targets” in so-called underground traps – and in doing so increase the chances of future drilling success.

Brunner Investment Trust PLC (LON:BUT) has announced a change of portfolio manager and plans to at least maintain its dividend in this financial year. Lucy Macdonald has stepped down with Matthew Tillett, who has worked closely on Brunner for a number of years, now to take on the lead management role supported by global equity managers Jeremy Kent and Marcus Morris-Eyton. In a statement, Brunner added that Morris-Eyton is a long-standing member of the European Growth team of Allianz Global Investors (AGI), the trusts investment manager. Carolan Dobson, Brunners chairman, said: "The Brunner Investment Trust is in a good place. The discount has narrowed significantly over the last few years and we have steadily increased the proportion of our shares held by wealth managers and platforms which now stands at around 40%.” She added: “Prudent management of the company's revenue account has left the company in the strong position of having 28.6p of revenue reserves per share compared to last year's dividend of 19.98p and the Board expects to at least maintain this level of dividend in this financial year."

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) has reported record revenues in 2019 and maintained its production forecasts for 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic. For the year ended December 31, 2019, the Azerbaijan-focused miner reported a pre-tax profit of US$30.1mln, up 19% on the prior year, while revenues increased 2% to a record level of US$92.1mln. The company also declared a final dividend of US$0.045 per share, giving a total dividend for 2019 of US$0.08 compared to US$0.07 in 2018.

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (LON:COPL) (CSE:XOP) has told investors that its board has authorised management to strike deals to issue shares to its non-secured creditors. It was agreed on May 12 and it will allow accounts receivable to be converted into shares at the same price as agreed in the separate agreement in the recent Yorkville-Riverfort equity placing agreement. The company, in its financial results statement, noted that at the end of the year it was experiencing liquidity issues which have extended into the current period exacerbated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRD) said it has put the “important building blocks” in place to grow the miner following the restart of production at the Kareevlei operation in South Africa earlier this week. The company said it had negotiated a finance facility that will support sales of rough-cut stones. A new partnership, meanwhile, will see the precious gems sold in Antwerp, the world centre for the industry, rather than locally. BlueRock also outlined plans to keep its mining costs down, while operating the open-cast site within the new work regulations. It also updated on its financial position, stating it has around £1.2mln in cash and liquid assets.

Mosman Oil And Gas Ltd (LON:MSMN) has told investors that production continues at the Stanley field in Texas, albeit with output currently around 20% lower than the rate seen in the second half of 2019. The company, in an update, noted the challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and market conditions. It said though that it believes its current cost structure will allow the company to remain profitable, even if oil prices are down to the mid-teens.

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) noted that further to its announcement of April 28, investee company Cobre Limited (ASX:CBE) has now revealed that it has completed the acquisition of the remaining 20% of shares in Toucan Gold Pty Ltd, which is now 100% owned by Cobre. As previously announced, Metal Tiger has conditionally agreed to invest a further A$310,000, at Cobres IPO price of A$0.20 per share, which will result in the issue of 1,550,000 new Cobre shares to the AIM-listed investor in natural resource opportunities, subject to Cobre shareholder approval, which will maintain its interest in Cobre at 19.99%. Michael McNeilly, Metal Tigers chief executive officer commented: “This is an important step in the further development of the Perrinvale Copper Project. With complete control over the asset, Cobre can now progress the project in a manner of its own choosing at a pace which will prove exciting for shareholders.”

Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) has announced that it will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) at 9.00am on June 4, 2020. As the group expects significant restrictions on personal movement to still be in place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the AGM will be an electronic meeting only. All voting at the resolutions will be conducted on a poll which means that shareRead More – Source