- FTSE 100 rises 87 points
- US markets higher at midday
- US retail sales blow past estimates
5pm: FTSE ends the week on a high note
The FTSE 100 finished the Friday session up 87 points, 1.5%, at 5,919.6. It’s 250 counterpart was flattish, losing 15 points, less than 0.1%, to 17,822.91.
The positive movement from London’s leading index could be tied to promising developments regarding a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
“BioNTech and Pfizer are developing a drug that they are hoping will be a vaccine for Covid-19, and the companies said they would be happy to push for emergency use as soon as certain safety measures are achieved, and that could be as early as late November,” CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden wrote Friday. “Stocks were already moving higher this morning before the announcement, and that has added to the positive move. Whenever there is some optimistic news in regards to the health crisis, traders typically jump on the buying bandwagon, even though it is well-known that the pharma sector is prone to setbacks – as AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly found out recently.”
In the US, stocks were solidly in the green at noon ET. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 267 points, 0.9%, to 28,762.2; the Nasdaq gained 41 points, 0.35%, to 11,754.2; and the S&P 500 improved 20 points, 0.6%, to 3,503.73.
The US markets are on pace to break a three-day losing streak after retail sales improved 1.9% in September, according to data from the Census Bureau, which came in well ahead of a Dow Jones estimate of 0.7%.
3.30pm: Proactive North America headlines:
Telson Mining Corp (CVE:TSN) (OTCMKTS:SOHFF) reports strong output at Campo Morado mine despite coronavirus and mill challenges
VolitionRx Limited (NYSEAMERICAN:VNRX) to present canine cancer detection studies of its Nu.Q Vet Cancer Screening Test at veterinary conference this week
Fura Gems Inc (CVE:FURA) (OTCMKTS:FUGMF) negotiates 30-year extension to Colombian emerald license, which contains Coscuez project
Innocan Pharma’s Corporation (CSE:INNO) cosmetic clinical study indicates 90% wrinkle reduction in volunteers using SHIR Premium CBD Facial Serum
2.45pm: Wall Street starts higher
The main Wall Street indices have started Friday’s session in the green as market sentiment was boosted by a better than expected set of US retail sales figures.
In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.67% to 28,685 while the S&P 500 rose 0.48% to 3,499 and the Nasdaq was up 0.51% at 11,773.
The data for September showed that US retail sales rose 1.9% month, well ahead of estimates of around 0.6% and emphasising that consumers are still spending on goods despite the raging pandemic, high unemployment and a seemingly sluggish economic recovery.
The data beat also seemed to overshadow slightly more negative industrial production data, which showed a 0.6% decline in September, below expectations.
Back in London, the FTSE 100 was firmly higher in the late afternoon, up 75 points at 5,907 at 2.45pm.
2.00pm: FTSE 250 struggles to keep pace with FTSE 100
The market has had some time to digest the prime minister’s threat to settle for a “no-deal” Brexit and seems OK with it.
The FTSE 100 was up 82 points (1.4%) at 5,914, helped by sterling giving back some of its earlier gains.
The FTSE 250, less attuned to sterling’s fortunes on the foreign exchange market, was struggling to match its bigger brother’s pace, up 48 points (0.3%) at 17,886.
It must be the fantastic job the company is doing on the UK’s track and trace programme…
Matt Hancock has attacked my “negative, derisory and divisive approach” for raising with him my concerns that Serco’s former Spin Doctor is now a Government Health Minister.
Think I must have hit a raw nerve. pic.twitter.com/Oh9fzTxgT7
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) October 16, 2020
Offsetting Serco’s rise is a 15% fall to 814.5p for pubs group Wetherspoon (JD) PLC (LON:JDW).
The group probably has a different take to Serco on how well the government has handled the coronavirus; its chairman certainly had a few barbed words after the group announced it had slipped into the red.
Yep, Wetherspoons boss is exactly who you want presenting an unbiased view of epidemiological research on the radio ????
— Sonia Sodha (@soniasodha) October 16, 2020
12.30pm: Walk like an Australian
US indices are expected to open modestly higher, continuing the momentum seen in yesterday afternoon’s trading session.
Spread betting quotes suggest the Dow Jones will open at around 28,537, up 43 points on last night’s close. The broader-based S&P 500 is tipped to open 4 points firmer at 3,487.
The tech-laced NASDAQ Composite is slated for a 192 point rise to 11,906.
Sentiment has been boosted by some positive developments on the race to develop a vaccine to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Drugs giant Pfizer has indicated it could file for emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration by late November for the COVID-19 vaccine it is making working on with BioNTech.
“It will be a busy end to the week for US economic releases, with September retail sales and IP [industrial production] reports set to provide further insight into the extent to which GDP [gross domestic product] has rebounded in Q3 [third quarter],” said Daiwa Capital Markets.
“We expect stronger auto spending to dominate a further modest rise in retail spending but core spending seems set to have remained much more subdued, admittedly having rebounded pretty strongly over recent months, with sales in several key areas having already moved above pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the jump in manufacturing payrolls last month bodes well for a further lift in factory output for the fifth consecutive month,” Daiwa said.
“In addition, the preliminary results of the University of Michigan’s consumer survey for October will also be worth watching,” it added.
Meanwhile, the steady upward trend in confirmed US COVID-19cases continues, with 63,600 yesterday, up from 56,200 on Thursday of last week, reports Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“The seven-day average has risen by 55.5% since the September 12 low. These numbers are disconcerting, but note that testing has increased by 35.7% over the same period. The test positivity rate has increased over the past month, but not by much, and the recent trend is steady,” Shepherdson noted.
In the UK, the situation is “ambiguous”, Shepherdson suggested.
“Both the test positivity rate and the number of confirmed new cases have suddenly dipped, following a run of relentless big increases. It’s possible that this is a consequence of tighter restrictions in some regions, but it’s too soon to make that judgment with any confidence. If case numbers really are peaking, the rising trend in hospitalisations should noticeably flatten over the next couple weeks,” Shepherdson suggested.
The FTSE 100 has perked up again, rising to 5,910, up 78 points (1.3%) after prime minister Boris Johnson said he was preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit.
“Given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I’ve concluded that we should get ready for 1 January with arrangements that are more like Australia’s, based on simple principles of global free trade.
“And we can do it because we always knew that there would be change on 1 January whatever type of relationship we had and so now is the time for our businesses to get ready and for our hauliers to get ready, for travellers to get ready,” Boris Johnson said in a statement.
That’s a full 11 weeks for hauliers to get their act together after more than four years of negotiations.
11.20am: Gains start to evaporate
The Footsie’s early gains are evaporating slowly as the market waits for an update on Brexit talks now the October 15 deadline has passed.
The FTSE 100 was up 43 points (0.7%) at 5,875.
3/3 PM @BorisJohnson will set out UK reactions and approach tomorrow in the light of his statement of 7 September.
— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 15, 2020
The return of Brexit to the news agenda – in the last four years it has been to news what Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been to West End theatre, only (amazingly) with even more unlikely coincidences – has at least distracted us from concerns about increased lockdown restrictions and the worrying rise in the number of coronavirus cases.
The pandemic certainly appears to have had an effect on credit and debit card spending, based on the latest report from UK Finance.
There were 1.5bn debit card transactions in July, which was 20.8% more than in June but 4.3% fewer than in July of last year.
The total spend of £59.1bn was up 17.9% month-on-month and 9.4% higher than in July 2019.
As for credit card transactions, they were up 15% month-on-month but down 20.2% year-on-year, while the total spent, at £14bn, was up 15% on June’s level but 24.8% lower than in the corresponding month of 2019.
Outstanding balances on credit card accounts contracted by 13% over the twelve months to July, as a result of repayments outstripping new borrowing in the year.
“This data suggests the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards internet shopping, with card spending online reaching a record high in July,” said Eric Leenders. The managing director of personal finance at UK Finance.
“We are also seeing a marked increase in debit card spending, driven by the growing use of contactless as shoppers take advantage of the new £45 payment limit to make higher-value transactions. Credit card spending has recovered slightly but continues to be impacted by ongoing economic uncertainty and fewer opportunities to spend on high-value items such as holidays.
“The banking and finance industry’s clear plan continues to support customers during this difficult time, as we work closely with the government and regulators to ensure people can pay in a way that suits them,” Leenders said.
He did not explain why data on electronic transactions takes more than two months to compile; it’s not like they have to count piles of coins and notes, is it?
11:00am: IG charts rise of gold and brent crude
Analyst and chartist Joshua Mahony noted the latest gold gains and has drawn up potential next moves in technical analysis. “A rise through the US$1,913 resistance level would look to provide a bullish follow up on that original rise,” Mahony said.
“Questions remain as to whether we are simply retracing the decline from US$1,973. However, even if that is the case, there is room for a potential rise back towards the 76.4% resistance level (US$1944) should price break this impending US$1,913 resistance level.”
For Brent crude, he added: “the current rise back towards the US$43.71 resistance level does highlight the potential for a bullish breakout. It is also worthwhile watching the US$44.12 level as a notable hurdle that needs to be overcome if we are to spark a more convincing bullish signal.
“Until those levels are broken the downside risk remains for this market.”
10:00am: IG sees GBP/USD turning higher
“GBP/USD has started to regain ground following a decline towards the $1.2863 support level,” IG analyst Joshua Mahony said.
“The failure to break below that threshold does point towards a potential rebound today, with a pattern of higher lower remaining in play.
“As such, a bullish short-term view is in play unless the price breaks below the $1.2863 support level.”
9.55am: Bulls find reasons to be cheerful
Friday has seen a return of optimism and not even the pound regaining its poise on foreign exchange markets can hold back the Footsie.
London’s index of blue-chip stocks was up 71 points (1.2%) at 5,904.
“Having depreciated yesterday, sterling has so far been stable today as investors wait to see how UK PM Boris Johnson will respond to yesterday’s statement by EU leaders about progress (or lack thereof) in the negotiations on the post-transition Brexit arrangements. Indeed, the EU expressed concern about that lack of progress, but also stated that they are willing to continue negotiations, with chief negotiator Barnier talking of his readiness to resume ‘intensive’ talks in London in next week,” observed Daiwa Capital Markets.
After initially sliding against the US dollar this morning, sterling is now a third of a cent higher at US$1.2938.
“The initial response of UK chief negotiator to the statement was, unsurprisingly, not favourable and given his capricious nature, and clear preference for presentation over substance, it is certainly not clear how Johnson will respond today. With this week having represented his own self-declared deadline to reach an agreement on a new free trade agreement (FTA), Johnson could simply walk away and commit to no deal but that would be reckless, certainly economically and possibly politically too, particularly at a time of national crisis due to the pandemic,” Daiwa continued.
“Rio Tinto warned that global steel production outside of China has fallen sharply owing to the covid crisis, despite government propping up economies. Rio confirmed that worldwide trade has been showing signs of recovery in Q3; however, the recovery rate is slowing as pent up demand dissipates. A resurgence of covid is adding to the uncertain outlook and greater potential for further economic fallout,” said Fiona Cincotta.
Unusually, the production report also contained a reference to its attempts to repair its relations with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people for its desecration of their ancient burial grounds.
“On Tuesday 13 October we wrote a letter to Traditional Owners in the Pilbara detailing that we will review all heritage disturbance in consultation with them; and shared our intention to modernise our agreements which includes modifying clauses to ensure respect, transparency and mutual benefit,” said J-S Jacques, the chief executive who is soon to step down after the scandal attracted global attention.
8.45am: Positive end to rocky week
It was ‘bounce-back day’ for the FTSE 100 in early trade on Friday following Thursday’s triple-digit decline.
The UK blue-chip index advanced 77 points to 5,909.94.
The coronavirus lockdown wobbles on Thursday were followed by cautious optimism with stocks such as Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), up 7.1%, and Whitbread (LON:WTB), ahead 2.3% released from the sickbay (at least temporarily).
Both had been hard hit yesterday as the UK edged towards a winter of discontent – and further lockdowns.
Friday, however, brought the news that the Chinese have uncovered a vaccine that is safe and provokes an immune response. Whether the wider world receives it remains to be seen.
Russia, meanwhile, is reportedly the source of a story suggesting an inoculation being developed jointly by AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) and Oxford University could turn its recipients into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector.
On the FTSE 250, Serco (LON:SRP) led the pack with a 16% gain after the support services group upped its profit guidance and said it was considering reinstating the dividend.
“Wetherspoons has come out with all guns blazing as its revenues continue to suffer from the effects of enforced restrictions,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.
“Within the chairman’s traditionally colourful invective is the lament that renewed lockdowns, shorter opening hours, additional costs and restrictive operating conditions place pub operators in an invidious position.”
Proactive news headlines:
Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) said its investee Paraytec Limited has completed proof of concept trials for a coronavirus test it is developing with the University of Sheffield. The investment firm said following the achievement of proof of concept for the optical detection system on October 5, the focus has been on the proof of concept trials for the capture and signal generation modules for the test. Braveheart said the proof of concept has now been achieved for the capture and signal generation modules, thereby successfully completing the proof of concept trials for the test. Work will now focus on the acquisition of clinically relevant data to facilitate optimisation of the functional capabilities of the test, together with a programme of product refinement and development.
Catenae Innovation PLC (LON:CTEA) has said it is forming a joint-venture with the UK and South African arms of BHA-Medical to deliver an integrated coronavirus (COVID-19) test, monitor and manage programme that can be used by governments, businesses and other organisations. The AIM-listed technology and media group is the developer of the Cov-ID electronic passport, while BHA has supplied 350,000 three-antibody tests in the UK to customers including two FTSE 100 companies. BHA will provide both the three-antibody and Healgen antigen tests to the JV. Both deliver results in 20 minutes.
Galileo Resources PLC (LON:GLR) has completed its acquisition of Africibum, delivering the company 100% interests in five prospecting licences known as the ‘North East Kalahari Copper Belt Project’, in Botswana. To acquire the assets the company has issued 42mln Galileo shares to Africibum’s ordinary shareholders and a further 7mln shares have been issued to one seller to reimburse costs incurred by Africibum. Share warrants were also issued as part of the transaction, allowing new Galileo shares to be purchased priced at 2p over the next two years. “I am very pleased that we have completed the acquisition of Africibum whose licences lie in an area of high prospectivity in the Kalahari Copper Belt,” Colin Bird, Galileo executive chairman said in a statement.
Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP) said it made strong progress as a business in the year to the end of April 2020. The developer of immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease revealed in its full-year results that it ended the reporting period with £3.58mln cash, down from £4.56mln at the end of April 2019. Since then, it has completed a £15mln fund-raising to fund its Phase 1/2 clinical trial for Modi-1 and the Phase 2 clinical trial for SCIB1, while it is currently in the process of raising up to £33mln to allow it to extend the utility of its Moditope, ImmunoBody and AvidiMab/TaG antibody products and platforms to accelerate and broaden its development pipeline of new potential novel therapies.
Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has said that, further to its announcement of September 24, 2020, and further media comment the company confirms that it remains in advanced negotiations with the UK Government and other partners for a Coronavirus challenge study in the UK. It added no contract has been signed and the company will update the market in due course as appropriate.
Circle Property PLC (LON:CRC) has said rent collections for the final quarter of 2020 are now at 75%, with the September quarter at 80% including agreed monthly payments. The strong collection rate reflected its focus on UK regional offices and minimal retail exposure, the property group added in a trading update. Rent collection for the March and June 2020 quarters had also improved since last reported, Circle said, and now stands at 93% and 89%, respectively with further improvement expected.
IXICO PLC (LON:IXI) has said it is providing its neuroscience and data analytics expertise to a trial being run by NYU Langone Health to assess a new and potentially breakthrough use for a drug called Sirolimus. Currently used to help prevent organ transplant rejection, the immunosuppressant is also able to slow the progression of multiple system atrophy (MSA) – a condition of the central nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. The project with NYU Langone involves applying of IXICO’s existing MSA analysis solutions to MRI retrospectively collected data from patients with the condition, as well as those that have dementia with Lewy Bodies, Parkinson’s disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy.
Iofina PLC (LON:IOF) told investors it is on track to deliver within guidance for the second half of 2020. The company said it expects to achieve the lower end of its production forecast, pitched at 340 to 360 tonnes. Third-quarter crystalline iodine production volumes amounted to 170.8 tonnes, compared to 167.3 in the same period in 2019. It has tallied some 455 tonnes of production over the nine months ended September 30, 2020.
Zephyr Energy PLC (LON:ZPHR), the Rocky Mountain oil and gas company focused on responsible resource development, has announced a placing of 409,090,909 new ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the company, at a price of 0.55p each to raise £2.25 million before expenses. The group said the placing, which was oversubscribed, has been conducted with a range of new, existing and institutional investors and with Turner Pope Investments acting as broker for the company. Colin Harrington, chief executive of Zephyr, said: “We are delighted to announce this Placing, which fully finances the Company’s maximum funding obligations for drilling the State 16-2 dual-use well on our acreage in the Paradox Basin, Utah. With the funding now secured, the Company remains on track to spud the well before the end of the year. We expect the processing and interpretation of the data acquired to take place early in the New Year, following which we hope to be in a position to commence commercial drilling operations utilising the 16-2 wellbore shortly thereafter.”
Salt Lake Potash Ltd (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) is continuing the development of the Lake Way Sulphate of Potash (SOP) Project in Western Australia with on-lake and off-lake operations progressing on schedule. The company has also delivered the funding package for the project which includes two components: A US$138 million (A$203 million) Syndicated Facility Agreement (SFA) with Taurus Mining Finance Fund No2 LP and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC); and a fully underwritten A$98.5 million placement and accelerated non-renounceable entitlement offer (ANREO) at 50 cents per share completed in September 2020. In combination, these funds will enable the company to complete the funding and deliver the project on schedule, with first SOP)production expected in the March quarter of 2021.
Avation PLC (LON:AVAP) has confirmed it is scheduled to publish its results at 7.00am BST on Friday, October 2020. Investors can participate in the conference call by using the following link: https://avation.emincote.com/avapFY2020/vip_connect. Investors will be asked to register a name and email address. Participants will receive a telephone number, a passcode and an individual PIN number. The conference call will also be webcast live through the following link: https://avation.emincote.com/avapFY2020
Metal Tiger PLC (NON:MTR), the AIM-listed investor in natural resources opportunities, has confirmed that the company’s London office will close with effect from October 16, 2020. As a result, the company’s registered office address has changed with immediate effect to Weston Farm House, Weston Down Lane, Weston Colley, Winchester, Hampshire, S021 3AG.
6.50am: Early recovery forecast
A late rally yesterday afternoon in the US seems to have given some encouragement to the bulls on this side of the Atlantic.
Helped as well by a soft sterling exchange rate – or if you prefer, a strong US exchange rate – the FTSE 100 is expected to open proceedings on Friday around 39 points higher at 5,833 after suffering a triple-digit fall yesterday.
“US stocks also finished lower on the day; however, they managed to pull back from their lows as once again hopes of a stimulus package being agreed before the election were raised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she assured House Democrats that she would look to address the need for a stimulus plan if there was no deal with the Republicans, and the White House soon. It remains to be seen how she can pull that off without the support of Senate Republicans who have pledged to block measures with a price tag of over $1.8trn,” said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
The Dow Jones Industrials Average finished Thursday 20 points lower at 28,494, while the S&P 500 ended 5 points weaker at 3,483.
In Asian markets on Friday, the Hang Seng was having a good day in Hong Kong, rising 189 points to 24,348, but in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 92 points at 23,415.
Back in the UK, the mornings are staying dark longer and the weather is increasingly dismal but fear not, an entertaining mouth-frothing, swivel-eyed rant is on its way from Tim Martin, the chairman and founder of pubs group JD Wetherspoon PLC (LON:JDW) to cheer us all up.
To be fair, it is probably Mr Martin who needs cheering up as the ever-changing lockdown restrictions in the UK have played havoc with his business.
The announcement of the full-year results has been delayed, which has got some people speculating that there could be some serious accounting jiggery-pokery going on.
The focus will be on September’s like-for-like sales, coming after a 17% year-on-year fall in the 44 days to August 16. Investors also have some concerns about debt reduction and margin prospects in the year ahead, while more mischievous observers will be wondering whether the coronavirus has replaced Brexit as Martin’s vein-throbbing obsession.
Other events in the calendar include updates from Jupiter Fund Management Group PLC (LON:JUP) and Man Group PLC (LON:EMG), as well as final results from Scancell PLC (LON:SCLP), while investors will also be keeping an eye on the macro news for US retail sales and Michigan consumer sentiment data.
Around the markets:
- Sterling: US$1.2891, down 0.13 cents
- 10-year gilt: 0.182%, down 4.08 basis points
- Gold: US$1,910.60 an ounce, up US$1.70
- Brent crude: US$42.75 a barrel, down 41 cents
- Bitcoin: US$11,355, down US$188
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Stocks across the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower on Friday amid a surge in the number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and uncertainties surrounding an economic stimulus package before the US election.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 0.37% lower while South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.05%.
Mainland Chinese stocks were marginally higher, with the Shanghai composite up 0.07%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.54% weighed by major mining and healthcare stocks.
Proactive Australia news:
Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) has amended an autonomous robotic vehicles agreement with global Fortune 100 software-industrial company Honeywell International Inc (NYSE:HON) (LON:HON) with the aim of establishing a broader partnership agreement.
Salt Lake Potash Ltd (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) is continuing the development of the Lake Way Sulphate of Potash (SOP) Project in Western Australia with on-lake and off-lake operations progressing on schedule.
Walcott Resources Ltd (CNSX:WAL) (OTCMKTS:WALRF) (FRA:WR2) has closed the acquisition of 60% 1256714 B.C. Ltd, which has a 100% interest in two Australian projects – Tyr Silver Project in New South Wales and Century South Silver-Zinc Project in Queenslan
Twenty Seven Co Ltd‘s (ASX:TSC) strategy of focusing on gold and base and metal exploration has gained momentum during the last reporting period with the discovery of shallow gold mineralisation at the Creasey-1 and Harmonic prospects.
Sipa Resources Limited (ASX:SRI) (FRA:SPO) sees the coming year is shaping up to be one of very active exploration after a year of challenge and transformation.
Netlinkz Ltd (ASX:NET), a virtual secure network (VSN) company, has strengthened its board through the appointment of senior business executive Grant Booker, who has M&A experience, as a non-executive director.
Oakdale Resources Ltd (ASX:OAR) (FRA:F1S) is keenly awaiting assay results from its first diamond hole at the highly prospective Lambarson Canyon Project in a prolific gold region in the USA’s modern-day golden state of Nevada.