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FTSE 100 drifts lower; Bitcoin’s fall is somewhat more dramatic

  • FTSE falls 31 points
  • Polymetal’s investment in Chesterfield gets the thumbs-up
  • Bitcoin comes off the boil

10.25am: Profit-takers take a bite out of Bitcoin

London’s slow start continues but there has been a bit of activity in the cryptocurrency markets with profit-taking taking a chunk out of the Bitcoin price.

The FTSE 100 was down 31 points (0.5%) at 6,360.

Meanwhile, profit-takers have taken a bite out of Bitcoin, which is down 8.3% at US$12,217, bringing an end – temporarily at least – to the cryptocurrency’s remarkable ascent this year.

Back in the world of equities, Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY) was 2.7% higher at 1,604.5p after agreeing to take a strategic stake in Cyprus-focused tiddler, Chesterfield Resources PLC (LON:CHF).

Polymetal is paying £2.1mln to acquire a 22.5% stake in Chesterfield at 9p a pop. That’s small beer to Polymetal but big news for Chesterfield, which was 21% higher at 13p on the news.

9.50am: Half and half for pubs groups

The Footsie has continued to drift lower in the second hour of trading, with the fall amplified by a number of big names trading ex-dividend.

London’s index of heavyweight stocks was down 20 points (0.3%) at 6,371, with Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB), down 4.1% at 1,430.5p leading the retreat, as the shares are now trading without the right to receive the third-quarter dividend.

Land Securities Group PLC (LON:LAND), down 3.2% at 671.6p is also trading ex-dividend, as is National Grid PLC (LON:NG.), down 2.3% at 887.8p.

Pubs groups have been in focus this morning, with Mitchells & Butlers PLC (LON:MAB) announcing its full-year results and Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC (LON:FSTA) releasing its half-year figures.

It’s been a tough year for pubs and the market cut Mitchells some slack as it posted an adjusted loss of £32mln for the 52 weeks ended September 26, versus a profit the year before of £197mln for the All Bar One owner.

The shares were down 0.7% at 222p – not much more than the market in general.

“The pub company is walking on a tightrope and management are determined they will make it to the other side without plunging to the depths. The negative issues facing the company are akin to a tornado which is right in front of the business, waiting to strike,” said Russ Mould, the investment director of AJ Bell, in florid mood.

“The warnings about its ability to remain a going concern are extremely worrying and management will be hoping that the Government doesn’t plunge large swathes of the country into higher category tiers when it updates later today on the country’s restrictions,” Mould said.

“A lot of Mitchells & Butlers’ pubs are reliant on being rammed full of people such as All Bar One and O’Neill’s which are tailored to the party crowd, so not exactly social-distancing friendly. The idea of the country operating in tiers until at least Easter, therefore, poses a major threat to pub and bar trading for many months to come.

“Mitchells & Butler’s saving grace could be the widespread availability of food in its establishments. That could be the pulling power it needs to get people through the doors, assuming that people are happy to venture outdoors,” Mouls suggested.

As for Fuller’s – now purely a pubs group having offloaded the brewing business some time back to Asahi – its shares rose 2.9% to 720p after it revealed that during the final two months of the half-year reporting period, the group made an operating profit of £2.0mln “despite severe restrictions in place”.

“The results from M&B and Fullers highlight the dramatic impact of Covid19 with currently both businesses effectively shuttered and the majority of staff on furlough; however, despite the outlook for a bleak future, both businesses have been supported by the government furlough scheme and helped by largely having a freehold portfolio they are well-positioned to come out of the pandemic in an enhanced competitive position and with lessons on efficiency that should ensure an improving performance,” suggested Mark Lynch, a partner at corporate finance house, Oghma Partners.

“The question remains though whether demand from customers will return – the evidence of August and September is a resounding yes. Whilst the outlook is difficult, it now seems that better days lie ahead for those that survive this winter,” he added.

98% of its staff – those it has not let go – are on furlough or flexi-furlough, the company revealed.

8.30am: Contrarian beginnings

London’s leading equities saw mixed progress on what is expected to be a quiet Thursday, what with the US celebrating Thanksgiving today.

The FTSE 100 initially headed higher but has since reversed course and was down 10 points (0.2%) at 6,381.

Investors are still picking through the bones of yesterday’s UK spending review announcement by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer.

“Though the government was eager to advertise the funds being spent on infrastructure and tackling Covid-19, one of the key takeaways was the likely fiscal consolidation in the years ahead, with the announcements including a public sector pay freeze in 2021-22 and major cuts to the overseas aid budget. The UK is seemingly looking to fiscally consolidate, which is brave at this point but with no election for four years one can understand the political motivation,” said Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank.

On the company news front, the reaction to third-quarter results from insurance giant Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) was tepid, with the shares off 0.9% at 324.8p.

“Aviva has delivered a generally upbeat statement and outlook, with the added highlight of positive dividend news,” said Richard Hunter at interactive investor.

“A new policy includes a payment of 7p with a proposed final dividend of 14p. For the future, the size of the payout is set at sustainable levels, although dividend growth may not be at historically high rates. Even so, the news puts the implied yield in excess of 6%, which is a breath of fresh air to income-starved investors who have seen the requirement for yield largely evaporate as the pandemic has bitten. The implied yield may not return Aviva to the previously heady heights of around 9%, but the new framework is nonetheless welcome and likely to prove resilient in tougher times,” he added.

Among the mid-caps, Bodycote PLC (LON:BOY), down 6.2% at 719.5p, was getting it in the neck after announcing more restructuring.

Having cut its automotive & general industrial (AGI) headcount by around a thousand so far this year, the FTSE 250-listed engineer said there will be a “similar restructuring programme” at the aerospace, defence & energy (ADE) division as it plans to consolidate its footprint into fewer, larger facilities.

Proactive news headlines:

Remote Monitored Systems PLC (LON:RMS) said commercial production of anti-viral masks at its Pharm 2 Farm (P2F) subsidiary is expected to start in January 2021. The company received notification yesterday that the production machinery is expected to undergo final acceptance testing in mid-December at the manufacturer’s premises in Spain. It will then be shipped, installed and commissioned at P2F’s Biocity premises in Nottingham.

Jersey Oil and Gas PLC (LON:JOG) is taking full ownership of Licence P2170, which hosts most of the Verbier discovery and is one part of the Greater Buchan Area (GBA) development project. The company said the deal simplifies licence ownership ahead of the planned GBA farm-out process.  It sees Jersey acquire partner CIECO V&C (UK), a joint venture between Japanese firms ITOCHU Corporation and JOGMEC (Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation). The 12% stake in Licence P2170 is CIECO’s sole asset.

IQ-AI Ltd (LON:IQAI) said its subsidiary Imaging Biometrics (IB) has released an upgraded version of its IB Clinic software platform. The company said that the new release incorporates multiple new enhancement requests for the platform received from clients, as well as workflow efficiencies engineered by IB’s developers. “Ultimately, this release underscores IB’s commitment to quality and helping clinicians improve care for their patients”, IQ-AI said.

Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) has declared ‘first oil’ at the Sarta field, where the company has a 30% stake alongside Chevron. Production has begun at Sarta with first oil flowing from the Sarta-3 well into the Early Production Facility, Genel said. The Sarta-2 well is on track to be completed in December and will come onstream from January. Genel said it continues to expect that the Sarta field will achieve stable production levels during the first quarter of 2021.

Savannah Resources PLC (LON:SAV) announced that another step has been taken in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for its Mina do Barroso lithium project. The company has submitted additional and revised information in response to the anticipated request it received from Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (APA), the Portuguese regulatory body. This additional submission further underlines Savannah’s commitment to developing and operating Mina do Barroso in a low impact, responsible and sustainable way that will bring long term social, environmental, economic and demographic benefits to all of the project’s stakeholders and to Portugal, Savannah said.

US Oil & Gas PLC (USOP) told investors that groundworks are now complete for the Eblana-9 well at the Hot Creek Valley project in Nevada. An access road is complete and the well pad has been constructed, the group said, a rig has been mobilised to site and the well will spud soon. The company noted additionally that a ‘permit to drill’ now been awarded by the Nevada Division of Minerals and a rig contract has been signed.

Norman Broadbent PLC (LON:NBB), the executive search specialist, has strengthened its balance sheet with a £250,000 six-year loan facility. The facility has been secured under the British Business Bank’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) from its bankers, Metro Bank. The facility can be drawn down at any point before January 16, 2021, with a 12-month interest-free period following drawdown, after which an interest rate of 4.75% per annum over Metro Bank’s base rate on the drawn down amount will apply.

W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) has highlighted a consolidation of recoveries from its La Parrilla tungsten and tin project in Spain in its fourth quarter to date as a result of ongoing plant improvements at the site. In an update on its fourth-quarter progress, the AIM-listed mining firm said it has achieved record recovery rates in November of 40% tungsten trioxide (WO3) and 53% tin (Sn), while mine grades were “consistently exceeding” 1,050 parts per million (ppm) WO3 and 350ppm Sn, which it said is “significantly greater” than the preceding three quarters.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) said it has completed the first delivery of concentrate produced from its Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania. The delivery follows an announcement on Monday when the company announced the acquisition of the remaining 20% interest in the mine following the passing of a resolution at a general meeting.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) told investors that the final commissioning of the Wressle oil field, in near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, has been deferred to January. It comes amidst anticipated supply chain disruption including ongoing coronavirus pandemic related restrictions and the upcoming festive holidays. In a statement, Union Jack said Wressle is at an advanced stage with site reconfiguration works completed and the installation of surface facilities currently ongoing.

AEX Gold Inc. (LON:AEXG) (CVE: AEX), an independent gold company with a portfolio of gold licences in Greenland, said it has appointed Rothschild & Co as its retained financial advisor to support the company as it progresses the development of its asset portfolio. Eldur Olafsson, CEO of AEX, commented: “We are delighted to be have secured the services of Rothschild & Co as strategic advisors to the Company. This important relationship, with an advisory house of Rothschild’s calibre and outstanding track record, provides further validation of our business and our potential to create significant value for AEX’s stakeholders.”

Impax Asset Management Group PLC (LON:IEM) said it expects to announce its results for the year ended September 30, 2020, on Thursday, December 3, 2020. There will be a meeting and conference call for analysts on the day of the results at 8.30am. A copy of the presentation will be made available on the company’s website from 7.30am on December  3, 2020.

Tharisa PLC (LON:THS) said it will be announcing its results for the year ended September 30, 2020 on Monday, November 30, 2020. The results will be presented at 10.30am (Johannesburg Time) (8.30am London Time) via conference call. Web dial-in:; Phone: South Africa +27 87 2500 455; United Kingdom +44 203 984 9844; USA +1 718 866 4614; Germany +49 30 25 555 323; France +33 1758 50 878; Sweden +46 10 551 30 20; Participant code: 553426.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR,) confirmed that all resolutions put to shareholders were duly passed by a show of hands at the company’s Annual General Meeting, held on November 26, 2020, in Brisbane, Australia.

6.50am: Traders to be thankful

The FTSE 100 is set to start Thursday slightly higher on what will is likely to be a quieter day, as across the pond America celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday.

CFD and spreadbetting firm IG sees London’s blue-chip benchmark rising by around 16 points, as it makes a price of 6,395 to 6,398 with just over an hour to go until the open.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, it appeared investors and Wall Street traders were cashing out after the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) success vaccine positivity, ahead of the public holiday.

“Yesterday, there was a sense that some dealers were winding down for the week, even though the NYSE will be open for limited trading on Friday. Any of the financial markets that are open today will probably experience low volatility,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.

Into the somewhat checked-out market, the Federal Reserves released its monthly meeting minutes, from its early November get-together, indicating the central bank’s policymakers may mull further stimulus, via asset purchase mechanisms.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrials Average finished Wednesday down 173 points or 0.58% at 29,872. The broader S&P 500 closed at 3,629, down 0.16%, whilst the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.48% ending the session at 12,094.

In Asia on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 240 points or 0.91% trading at 26,537, whilst Hong Kong’s Hang Seng moved 0.23% higher to 26,731. The Shanghai Composite was down a sliver at 3,360.

Around the markets:

  • The pound: US$1.3393, up 0.1%
  • Gold: US$1,810 per ounce, up 0.18%
  • Silver: US$23.30 per ounce, down 0.22%
  • Brent crude: US$48.78 per barrel, up 1.9%
  • West Texas Intermediary: US$45.92 per barrel, up 2.2%
  • Bitcoin: US$17,959, down 5.11%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Stocks in Asia were higher on Thursday as JD Health, a unit of Chinese e-commerce giant said it is looking to raise more than US$3 billion on its Hong Kong debut.

Japanese stocks surged, with the Nikkei 225 rising 0.91% and South Korea’s Kospi advancing 0.94%.

Mainland Chinese stocks gained 0.10% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.25%.

Shares in Australia lagged, with the S&P/ASX 200 slipping 0.70% even as November continues to be strong with the index still trading about 12% higher for the month.


Proactive Australia news:

TNT Mines Ltd (ASX:TIN) is watching intently as Warriedar Mining has started reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Eureka Gold Project, around 50 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie in the Western Australian Goldfields.

Maximus Resources Ltd (ASX:MXR) has completed a reverse circulation (RC) drilling and reconnaissance program at gold prospects within the Spargoville tenements in WA’s Goldfields with broad alteration zones intersected.

Anson Resources Ltd (ASX:ASN) (FRA:9MY) has received firm commitments from new and existing sophisticated and professional investors to raise $2.4 million through a placement.

Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) has commenced finalising the scale-up of its battery ink technology to achieve a volume of one litre of ink this week for its self-charging battery.

Lake Resources NL’s (ASX:LKE) (OTCMKTS:LLKKF) (FRA:LK1) high purity ‘clean’ lithium carbonate produced from Kachi brines has been sent to Novonix Ltd’s (ASX:NVX) (OTCQX:NVNXF) Novonix Battery Technology Solutions in Nova Scotia, Canada, to produce NMC622-based lithium-ion battery test cells.

Andromeda Metals Limited’s (ASX:ADN) updated mineral resource estimate for its 75%-owned Great White Deposit near Poochera on the west coast of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has increased by 33% over the previous estimate.

Pure Minerals Ltd (ASX:PM1) is trading higher on entering a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Samsung SDI Co Ltd for the supply of nickel from the TECH Project, 100%-owned by its wholly-owned subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd (QPM).

Creso Pharma Limited (ASX:CPH) (OTCMKTS:COPHF) (FRA:1X8) is set for the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) final decision confirming an interim recommendation to down schedule the distribution of cannabidiol (CBD) products in Australia and this is expected in late December 2020.

K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) has completed its final certification as an SAP Endorsed APP – a new category of solutions from SAP’s partner ecosystem to help customers become best-run, intelligent enterprises.

Firefinch Ltd (ASX:FFX) (OTCMKTS:EEYMF) (FRA:N9F) is an income-generating gold producer after completing the first gold pour at Morila Gold Mine in Mali under its ownership.

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