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FTSE 100 hits post-pandemic high as oil gains offset reopening disappointment


London share prices have calmed down after their initial excitement, with the FTSE 100 up 27 points. 

Energy stocks are leading the way in early trade, notes IG market analyst Joshua Mahony, with the likes of Shell in the blue chips and Tullow Oil topping the FTSE 250 along with Cairn Energy.

“Despite ongoing restrictions to global travel, there is a growing belief that energy demand will outstrip supply as major firms are pushed by shareholders into shunning their traditional oil & gas business,” Mahony said.

“Should that shareholder pressure drive down production levels, we could face a shortfall in supply as the world continues its drawn out transition away from carbon. Plans from Royal Dutch Shell to potentially sell their Permian Basin holdings could bring a windfall for shareholders, yet it also does highlight how those seeking exposure to higher energy prices will invariably look towards small caps.”

8.56am: Early jump

The FTSE 100 leapt over 50 points higher to above 7187 in early trading, despite widespread reports that rapidly rising cases of the coronavirus Delta variant in the UK is going to lead to current restrictions being kept for longer. 

London stocks shrugged this off to hit their post-pandemic high, although falls for travel related stocks such as air engine maker Rolls-Royce (LON:RR.), British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) and Intercontinental Hotels (LON:IHG) have weighed on the index a little since that early exuberance. 

The broadly positive mood in equity markets is continuing to override concerns about inflation, said analyst Neil Wilson 

“Markets are now caught between last week’s big inflation reading and this week’s Fed meeting. Despite the big inflation reading from the US, inflation expectations are not really rising which should allow the Fed to keep its dovish stance,” he said.

The Footsie’s leaderboard is topped by BT Group, where last week Altice UK, a telecoms group founded by billionaire Patrick Drahi, took a 12.1% stake.

“Drahi has always held ambitious return expectations for all of his investments. We struggle to believe he bought into BT on the expectation of delivering a “modest” double-digit return,” JPMorgan said in a note this morning.

Down on the FTSE 250, Serco (LON:SRP) is the top riser after raising its profit estimate for this year as it now expects a larger contribution from the UK government’s controversial ‘test and trace’ programme.

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Tavistock Investments PLC (LON:TAVI) agreed to sell its fund management arm (TWL) for up to £40mln to Titan Wealth. The fund group, which will become Titan’s strategic partner and distribute its products, will receive additional payments over a ten-year period equivalent to 50% of future net income on any increased funds under its ACUMEN brand.

Mode Global Holdings PLC (LON:MODE) signed a preliminary agreement to provide payment services incorporating bitcoin to online shopping platform THG PLC, better known as The Hut Group (LON:THG).

Apollon Formularies PLC (LON:APOL) said it has signed a long-term lease for its first international cancer institute in the Jamaican capital of Kingston through its affiliate, Apollon Jamaica.

Kromek Group PLC (LON:KMK) said it has been awarded a contract by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for Phase II of its development of a biological threat detection system.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) has released further results from the recently completed 3,118 metre maiden diamond drilling programme at its 51%-owned Bibemi gold project in Cameroon, including best intersections of 2.45 metres grading 2.96 grammes per tonnes, 3.6 metres grading 1.75 grammes and 12.4 metres grading 0.71 grammes. 

Evgen Pharma PLC (LON:EVG) has announced progress on two separate cancer programmes.

AfriTin Mining Ltd (LON:ATM) produced 183 tonnes of tin concentrate from its Uis mine in Nambia during the first quarter of the 2022 financial year. 

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) (First North:FARON) said the US Patent and Trademark Office has granted a new patent protecting the composition of matter of its novel precision cancer immunotherapy drug candidate, bexmarilimab.

Ncondezi Energy Ltd (LON:NCCL) has signed a term sheet with binding exclusivity with Nesa Capital (Pty) Ltd and Nesa Engineering (Pty) Ltd detailing the proposed formation of a new joint venture company to create a leading regional Southern African champion in the commercial and industrial renewable energy and storage sector. 

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said its portfolio company, Nandi Proteins, has appointed David Flower as its new chief executive.

Plant Health Care PLC (LON:PHC) said it has been awarded the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark in recognition of its contribution to the global green economy.

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP)(AQSE:ORCP) has returned highly positive geochemical sampling results from its maiden orientation survey at its 100% owned Jundee East gold project in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia.

Caerus Mineral Resources PLC (LON:CMRS) is continuing with due diligence drilling on the recently acquired Troulli project in Cyprus, and thus far results have significantly exceeded expectations.

VietNam Holding Ltd (LON:VNH) noted that Vietnam was the best performing stock market in the world in May, and the investment company outperformed the national benchmark. 

TomCo Energy PLC (LON:TOM) told investors the Greenfield Energy joint venture is now producing around 180 bopd at the Petroteq oil sands plant (POSP) at Asphalt Ridge, in Utah.

Scirocco Energy PLC (LON:SCIR) is to invest £1.2mln in Energy Acquisitions Group Ltd (EAG), a vehicle in the sustainable energy sector with plans to acquire an anaerobic digestion (AD) biogas energy project in Northern Ireland.

Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) inked a deal with Baker Hughes to support drilling operations in Georgia. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) sets up a partnership enabling progress for its significant oil and gas opportunities, Block said.

Esken Limited (LON:ESKN) provided an update on trading and on its attempted sale Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport.

Challenger Energy Group PLC (LON:CEG) has completed the middle section of the Saffron-2 appraisal well in Trinidad, which has so far confirmed results in line with expectations.

Helium One Global Ltd (LON:HE1) has kicked off its drill programme in Tanzania, with the Tai exploration well. It is the first of three planned wells which aims to confirm a significant helium resource.

Spectra Systems Corp (LON:SPSY) announced that, having received only 23 ballots, it does not have enough shareholder votes to achieve a quorum to transact business at its scheduled 2021 annual general meeting on 14 June. The presence in person or by proxy, duly authorized, of the holders of a majority of the outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote constitutes a quorum.

Incanthera plc (AQSE:INC) said its annual general meeting on 23 June is to be moved from Manchester to the Marriott Hotel in Derby as the former city has been identified by the government as an area of concern relating to increasing cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Investors can still submit questions and follow the meeting via the Investor Meet Platform.

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) will make a distribution in specie of the entire issued share capital of its wholly-owned subsidiary Orph Pharma IP Company Limited to Poolbeg Pharma Limited, in return for the issue of new shares by Poolbeg to shareholders of Open Orphan on the register at close of business on 17 June 2021. Relevant shareholders will receive one Poolbeg share for every 2.98 ordinary shares held in the company and will not be permitted to sell, transfer or deal in these shares for a period of nine calendar months.

Zephyr Energy PLC (AIM: ZPHR) announced that it will be participating in the Proactive Investors’ One2One Virtual Forum on Thursday 17th June 2021. Chief executive Colin Harrington will make a presentation at 6pm, followed by a Q&A session.

Instem PLC (LON:INS) announced that it will be hosting a virtual capital markets day for retail investors from 2pm to 4pm BST on Thursday 1 July 2021. Management will provide greater insight into the business, its ongoing acquisition strategy and its growth potential, with opportunities for investors to ask questions. A separate virtual CMD will take place on Wednesday 30 June 2021 for institutional investors. 

6.45am: Modest start expected

The FTSE 100 is likely to continue to drift higher as we begin the new week, though later today Downing Street is expected to delay the further relaxation of pandemic restrictions.

Concerns about the rising levels of infection in the Delta or Indian variant have, according to reports, led the government to push back the final reopening plans for another four weeks, which traders say will put pressure on the pound.

The Prime Minister will announce later that most current rules will remain in place until mid-July, meaning nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to keep working from home where possible, the BBC and many newspapers are reporting. 

Having already slipped to a one-month low against the dollar last week, a softer sterling will further smooth the way higher for the multinational names of the FTSE, which is expected to open 15 points higher this morning from its 7,134.06 close at the end of last week, according to spread betters on the IG platform.

“The overriding impression from the last few days’ events appears to be that bond markets and investors in general appear to be buying the central bank narrative that the current high levels of inflation are transitory and will soon pass,” said market analyst Michael Hewson at CMC.

He said while this was a seductive narrative, “the wider question is not whether it is true, but whether current central bank policy is currently too loose and needs to be reined in a bit”.

For the next couple of days the market will probably keep its powder largely dry ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting the concludes with a policy decision and press conference on Wednesday.

The Fed, says Hewson, “has the perfect opportunity to reset market expectations with respect to tapering its bond purchases. No one is seriously suggesting a rise in rates yet, but there is scope to reduce the monthly bond purchase amount from the current $120bn a month without jeopardising the recovery”.

Back on these shores, today’s corporate diary has a mid- and small cap theme, with entries from clothes retailer Ted Baker PLC (LON:TED), housebuilder Crest Nicholson Holdings PLC (LON:CRST), recruiter SThree PLC (LON:STEM) and venture capitalist investing pair Augmentum Fintech PLC (LON:AUGM) and Draper Esprit PLC (LON:GROW).

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