Politics

FTSE 100 tanks 1.7% after long weekend as strong pound weighs

  • FTSE 100 index closes 101 points down
  • Sterling conquering all on forex markets
  • Tesla skids after unveiling plans for US$5bn offering

5pm: Footsie in the red

FTSE 100 index closed firmly lower on the first day back after the long August weekend, as stronger sterling and a poor performance from banking and energy stocks weighed on the benchmark.

Britain's top share index closed down over 101 points, or 1.7% at 5,862 – the weakest close for three months.The FTSE 250 also tanked, shedding over 202 points, or 1.14% at 17,586.

"Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Ashtead and Unilever all derive a large portion of their revenue from overseas, so the push higher in the pound usually hits the stocks. The declines in Royal Dutch Shell, BP, HSBC and Lloyds are weighing on the British benchmark too," said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

US and Canada 4.30pm/11.30am EST

Wall Street shares were higher in early deals in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced over 72 points at 28,502. The broader-based S&P 500 added almost 10 at 3,510. The tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange soared over 101 points at 11,876. Up in Toronto, the TSX advanced over 45 points at 16,560.

3.30pm: Bank holiday buying for Apple and Tesla

The strength of sterling continues to weigh heavily on sentiment in London.

The FTSE 100 was down 131 points (2.2%) at 5,833 as sterling climbed three-fifths of a cent against the greenback to US$1.3430.

Sterling Surges With Euro, Swiss Franc Tumbles, Dollar Mixed – Action Forex https://t.co/f5kSbiEiVm

— swissbusiness (@swissbusiness) September 1, 2020

With Londons blue-chips in the skip, investors are looking to US technology stocks for a quick buck – not that a buck is worth as much as it was.

Apparently, even Instagram kiddies have noticed that glamour stocks Apple and Tesla have been on a one-way street of late.

Meme pages on Instagram are now posting about investing in Tesla $TSLA and Apple $AAPL. Time to sell? pic.twitter.com/WAQVHpO3YQ

— Tom Howard (@tomhtimes) September 1, 2020

Even staid sensible Brits are apparently hopping on the bandwagon.

Tesla and Apple shares are in the top five most viewed stocks by Hargreaves Lansdown investors today after the stock splits took effect. Both shares have rocketed this year and the divisions have given them a further boost, but there may be some turbulence to come following their surges this week,” suggested Susanna Streeter at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Stock splits are often accompanied by a marked period of volatility and thats certainly been the case with Tesla which, before the split, saw a 61% increase in its share price since August 11th, when it announced the plans. Its the first time Tesla has made this division, but Apple has been on the stock chopping block five times since it went public in 1980, and the price of Apples shares have tended to fall on average, in the weeks following a split.

“There are also plenty of uncertainties ahead which could have an impact on both stocks in the months to come, not least the economic repercussions of possible Coronavirus second waves and the outcome of the US presidential election in November. For the moment, however, the flight to the perceived safe returns of big tech, fuelled by the Federal Reserves ultra-low interest rates and unprecedented quantitative easing looks set to continue.,” she added.

In the interests of fairness, I should point out that rival investment platform interactive investor has said much the same thing, with plenty of UK investors apparently spending the bank holiday loading up on Apple and Tesla shares.

Can anything top Tesla? Why, yes! Good old natural gas.

According to Naeem Aslam, the chief market analyst at AvaTrade, not even Tesla could match the increase in natural gas prices last week.

“It has been a tough few months within the natural gas markets, but with economies gradually emerging from lockdown, industrial demand has grown and natural gas prices have surged by 14.70% to top this weeks most rising table,” Aslam said.

Thats all very well but then hurricanes wont hit the Gulf of Mexico every week – we hope.

“Installations in the Gulf of Mexico are without manpower, having been halted which reduced the Gulf of Mexico production by 45%,” observed Sam Wahab at SP Angel.

2.45pm: Wall Street mixed at the opening bell

As expected, the main Wall Street indices got off to a mixed start on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq leading the way while the Dow fell back into the red.

Shortly after the opening bell, the tech-dominated Nasdaq was up 0.56% at 11,840 followed by the S&P 500 which was 0.02% higher at 3,500. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.35% at 28,331.

Despite a strong pre-market, expectations of further rises from electric car maker Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) were dashed by the time the markets opened after the firm disclosed plans for a US$5 billion stock offering, sending its shares down 2.4% to US$486 in early deals.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was down 131 points at 5,831 at 2.45pm.

2.05pm: Footsie in triple-digit fall

The Footsie slipped further over the lunchtime session, although it recovered a little after 2.00pm.

The index was down 132 points (2.2%) at 5,832, with aerospace-related stocks bearing the brunt of investors ire after the latest update from IATA, the industry body of air transport.

Jet engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) was the biggest faller, shedding 13% at 211.6p, closely followed by International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG), the owner of British Airways, which was off 8.8% at 196.35p.

Automotive and aerospace engineer Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRS) was also friendless, down 7.6% at 94.98p.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said passenger demand in July remained at critically low levels.

Demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), was down 79.8% on July of last year, which at least represented an improvement on Junes 866% year-on-year fall.

“The crisis in demand continued with little respite in July. With essentially four in five air travellers staying home, the industry remains largely paralysed. Governments reopening and then closing borders or removing and then re-imposing quarantines does not give many consumers confidence to make travel plans, nor airlines to rebuild schedules,” said Alexandre de Juniac, the director-general and chief executive of the industry body.

While many investors fretted over the waning fortunes of airlines, others were perturbed by the weakness of the dollar, which is generally regarded as a bad thing for the Footsie as it has so many companies in its midst that are reliant on US earnings.

The dollar index was 87.35, down from 87.55 overnight; sterling was up by three-quarters of a cent against the greenback at US$1.3444.

12.30pm: US tech stocks to continue their inexorable ascent

Teslas inexorable rise is set to propel the NASDAQ Composite higher again when trading starts stateside this afternoon.

While the UK was enjoying – if thats the right word – the bank holiday yesterday, the NASDAQ rose 80 points to 11,775 on a day when the Dow and the S&P lost ground and today it is set to continue its upward path, with spread betting quotes suggesting it will open 440 points higher.

Today, it may even have the S&P 500 coming along for the ride as the 500-share index is expected to open 9 points higher at 3,509. The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to be more subdued, with a fall of around 8 points to 28,422 on the cards.

The stock of Tesla, the electric vehicle maker, split overnight, which will result in the shares being cheaper (if only you could do the same for the cars), with existing shareholders owning more shares in compensation.

The companys capitalisation now surpasses that of credit card group Visa and next in its sights, according to the Marketwatch news agency, is Berkshire Hathaway, the company helmed by the value-based investment guru, Warren Buffett.

Quite what the Sage of Omaha thinks of Teslas lofty valuation is anyones guess; we know what broker RBC thinks of it because it told us the company is “fundamentally overvalued”.

That did not stop RBC Capital increasing its target price to US$290 from US$170.

In the UK, things are a good deal less exciting. The FTSE 100 is down 76 points (1.3%) at 5,887.

AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN), down 0.8% at 8.270p was faring better than many blue-chips after its Imfinzi drug was approved in the European Union for the first-line treatment of adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer in combination with a choice of chemotherapies, etoposide plus either carboplatin or cisplatin.

11.00am: FTSE 100 dragged lower by financials

Despite the support of miners, the FTSE 100 is close to its low point of the day, with financials taking a hammering.

Londons index of blue-chip stocks was down 83 points (1.4%) at 5,880.

“The fall in the London market would be even worse if it wasnt for the mining sector, which is being assisted by the stronger-than-expected manufacturing data from China,” observed CMCs David Madden.

“The Caixin survey of Chinese manufacturing for August increased to 53.1, its fastest rate of growth since 2011, which has helped Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Group. Yesterday, eurozone indices posted modest losses, while the UK market remained closed as it was a bank holiday, so it seems the British index is playing catch-up today,” Madden said.

The Bank of England has reported that mortgage approvals for house purchases rose to a five-month high of 66,281 in July, from 39,902 in June and a record low of 9,285 in May.

“Julys rise in mortgage approvals provides hard evidence of the significant pick-up in housing market activity that has occurred since the easing of restrictions that started in England on 13 May. The easing of restrictions for the Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish housing markets occurred during June,” said Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.

“Nevertheless, the EY ITEM Club suspects the upside for the housing market will be limited due to challenging fundamentals for consumers. Many people have already lost their jobs, despite the supportive Government measures, while others will be concerned that they may still end up losing their job once the furlough scheme ends. Additionally, many incomes have been affected. Consumer confidence is still low compared to long-term norms and many people are likely to remain cautious for some time to come when making major spending decisions such as buying or moving house,” Archer suggested.

“The EY ITEM Club suspects that the housing market is likely to come under pressure over the final months of 2020 when there is likely to be a rise in unemployment as the furlough scheme draws to a close in October. This will not only adversely affect the fundamentals for house buyers, but also likely fuel caution on committing to buying a house. Consequently, the EY ITEM Club predicts that house prices will come under downward pressure late on in 2020,” he added.

9.45am: Manufacturing activity continues to recover

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to a 30-month high of 55.2 in August, up from 53.3 in July.

The revised reading was a tick below the earlier flash estimate of 55.3.

The PMI has posted above its neutral 50.0 mark – which marks the crossover point between contraction and expansion – for three consecutive months.

“Output expanded at the fastest rate in over six years as new work intakes rose to the greatest extent since November 2017, led by an upturn in domestic demand and signs of recovering exports. Business optimism also remained encouragingly robust and close to July's recent peak,” said Rob Dobson, a director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.

“However, companies report that the current bounce is mainly driven by the restarting of manufacturers operations and reopening of clients as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be relaxed. Backlogs of work fell at an increased rate, hinting at spare capacity, and the labour market remains worryingly weak, with job losses registered for the seventh straight month. The downturn in employment may have further to run as the governments furlough scheme is phased out unless demand rises sharply,” Dobson warned.

“Given the fragility of demand and uncertain outlook, both in terms of COVID-19 and Brexit, policymakers may struggle to prevent a 'surge-then-slump' scenario from developing,” he added.

Duncan Brock, the group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said domestically, customers are doing their bit to help the UK economy recover, with new orders accelerating at the fastest rate since November 2017.

A smidgen of good news from overseas too with a small uplift in export orders for the first time in almost a year as optimism across the board was maintained that business could only get better,” Brock side.

“With supply-side capacity constraints still in evidence and shortages of raw materials sneaking in, it remains to be seen if demand holds strong. Manufacturers raised their prices in response to the sharpest increase in cost inflation for almost two years as fuel and transportation became more expensive,” Brock noted.

“It seems the sector may be experiencing a V shaped recovery with the fastest rate of growth in the manufacturing sector since May 2014. However, amidst this positivity the elephant in the room remains the poor employment figures. The drop in job numbers in August makes this feel more of a rebalancing strategy than real recovery. Companies are looking at how to stay in business for the rest of the year as challenges from the pandemic retreat a little only to be replaced by an imminent Brexit,” Brock concluded.

The FTSE 100 was down 83 points (1.4%) at 5,881.

8.55am: Footsie falls

The FTSE 100 defied early predictions of a positive start to the new trading week and month as it nudged into negative territory and below the 6,000-mark.

The blue-chip share index opened 16 points lower at 5,947.97.

While Asias main markets were buoyed by stronger than expected manufacturing data from China, here in the UK prices reacted to the latest blow to international travel.

British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG), down 5%, was hardest hit as it looked increasingly likely that Portugal would be added to Britains now-extensive quarantine list.

JP Morgan Cazenove ladled on the agony for the airline, which is also in a stand-off with the unions, by downgrading the stock to neutral from overweight.

Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), whose fortunes are linked to the airline industry, was down 3.8%.

On the up was silver miner Fresnillo (LON:FRES), ahead 3.2% as its shares tracked the gold's ascent back towards US$2,000 an ounce.

Sticking with the diggers, Glencore (LON:GLEN), up 2.5%, and copper giant Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), 1.5% higher, were boosted by Chinas latest economic update.

Proactive news headlines:

Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) has lined up a collaboration agreement with Chinese engineering firm Sinohydro to work on the companys Bougouni lithium project in southern Mali. The two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together to develop the project. Sinohydro is a subsidiary of state-owned PowerChina. It has undertaken a number of large and high-profile engineering and construction projects in Mali and continues to be active in large government infrastructure projects and private commercial developments.

Location Sciences Group PLC (LON:LSAI) revealed it has signed up the first customer to its Verify Audience platform. InMarket, a US company specialising in consumer activity intelligence, will use the marketing tool to verify local audiences and campaigns across different media channels. Verify allows brands, agencies and suppliers to validate the real-time locations of mobile devices as digital advertising campaigns are delivered.

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) revealed it has secured a contract for the sale of a bespoke 100 kilowatt H-Power alkaline fuel cell system to Forschungszentrum Jülich, one of Europes largest research centres, for deployment at its Living Lab Energy Campus (LLEC) showcase in Germany. The AIM-listed hydrogen power technology specialist said the initial transaction value of the deal also comes with additional trailing payments receivable under a long term services agreement over the life of the project. The LLEC is funded predominantly by the German government and is designed to provide a blueprint for sustainable, decentralised and integrated smart infrastructure with an emphasis on renewable and hydrogen technologies.

CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC) has reported higher earnings and “record organic growth” in the first half of its current year despite the coronavirus pandemic. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the internet domain name specialist reported adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) of US$15.1mln, up 64% year-on-year, while revenues surged by 124% to US$111.3mln. The company said it has seen “healthy demand” for its two largest service lines, wholesale domains and monetisation, during the period, with the latter driven by the rollout of its patented monetisation solution for secure socket layers (SSL), protocols for web browsers and servers that allow for the authentication, encryption and decryption of data sent over the internet.

Eden Research PLC (LON:EDEN) said its collaboration partner has won authorisation from the Spanish authorities for the biopesticide, Cedroz. The product, which has been developed to tackle infestations of microscopic, soil-dwelling parasites called nematodes, has been approved for both glasshouse and open field uses on tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, strawberries and melons, as well as glasshouse use on peppers and aubergine. It will be sold by the Eastman Chemical Company and is Edens second crop protector to receive the regulatory green light in Spain. A key territory, the country is the largest producer of fruit and veg in the EU.

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) has said one of its portfolio companies is to launch a patent reader product commercially. Elute Intelligence Holdings Limited, in which the intellectual property commercialisation specialist has a 43.5% equity stake, is to bring the product to market after a successful pilot with a dedicated user group comprising members from multinationals, high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises and professional intellectual property service providers. The patent reader allows users to identify relevant patents and understand why they are relevant within minutes of starting a search.

BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRD) said a 12.12 carat diamond recovered from its Kareevlei diamond mine in South Africa in July has been valued at US$104,000. "This is our fifth diamond recovered with a value of above US$100,000. Now that we are operating in pure Kimberlite again following the development of KV Main we expect an increasing incidence of higher value diamonds", BlueRock executive chairman Mike Houston said in a statement.

Immotion Group PLC (LON:IMMO) said trading has “continued to be encouraging” across its sites that have operated over the summer period. In a trading update, the out-of-home virtual reality firm noted that it currently has 16 partner sites operating its attractions, and has also traded at four of the ImmotionVR sites throughout the summer. The ImmotionVR sites have all traded strongly and have generated a profitable contribution despite limited opening times, the company said, noting that whilst visitor numbers are “generally down” in its partner sites due to coronavirus-related restrictions, average revenue per headset has been “encouraging” despite the lower footfall.

Avation PLC (LON:AVAP), the aircraft leasing company, has played down the impact of Virgin Australia going into administration. Avation had a total of 13 aircraft on lease to Virgin Australia when it entered administration. These included six ATR72-500 aircraft, five ATR72-600 aircraft and two Fokker 100 jet aircraft. Since the airline went into administration, Avation said it has entered into new lease arrangements for five of these aircraft, including finance leases for the sale of the two Fokker 100 aircraft, operating leases for two ATR 72-500s with a new airline customer in Australia and a five-year operating lease for an ATR72-500 aircraft with a new airline customer in Asia. The three remaining ATR72-500s have been returned to Avation and are now undergoing maintenance.

San Leon Energy PLC (LON:SLE) has agreed to a new US$7.5mln investment into the Oza oil field, in Nigeria, via a loan agreement with Decklar Petroleum, a subsidiary of Asian Mineral Resources (CVE:ASN). Decklar has a risk service agreement with Millenium Oil and Gas, giving it a majority share of production and cash flow from the Oza field – which was historically operated by Shell, between 1959 and 1974, albeit despite two periods of extended production tests it never reached commercial-scale production. The agreement sees San Leon take a 15% interest in Decklar initially, potentially rising to 30% with a further subscription alongside the subsequent funding. San Leon will be allocated one seat on the board of Decklar.

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) said it has invested around £165,000 for a 0.5% stake in Canyon Resources Limited (ASX:CAY), an Australian-listed firm focused on developing the Minim Martap bauxite project in Cameroon. The AIM-listed investment company said it subscribed for 3mln shares in Canyon at a price of A$0.10 each as part of Canyons fundraise of A$10mln. In a separate announcement, Metal Tiger also said it has signed a binding commitment to invest a further A$150,000 (£82,748) in Pan Asia Metals Limited, taking its total commitment to A$650,000 (£358,576), for 3.25mln new shares at A$0.20 each as part of Pan Asias proposed initial public offering (IPO) on the ASX. Assuming Pan Asia raises the maximum contemplated amount of A$6mln (£3.3mln) through its IPO, Metal Tiger said it will hold just over 8% of the company on admission to the ASX.

Landore Resources Ltd (LON:LND) told investors that a new drill programme is slated to start in October at the BAM Gold Deposit, Junior Lake property, in Canada. The programme is expected to comprise 14,000 metres, is fully funded and is intended to complete in March. It will involve resource and extension drilling, it will test the depth potential and evaluate an exploration target.

SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC), the quarrying and building materials group, has said it will acquire the remaining 60% it does not already own of South Wales-based GDH. The consideration is £7.5mln, to be funded by cash, with completion expected on or around September. SigmaRoc noted that it expects the acquisition to be significantly earnings enhancing. GDH operates 17 production facilities producing asphalt, concrete and including a wharf operation, as well as four road contracting units.

Pan African Resources plc (LON:PAF), the South Africa-based gold miner, said its underlying earnings per share for the year to end-June, 2020, will be at least 87% higRead More – Source