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FTSE 100 in celebratory mood but Persimmon is a party-pooper

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  • FTSE 100 gains 85 points
  • Persimmon slides despite dividend pledge

The party mood has continued in London on Tuesday, except for housebuilder Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN), which disappointed with its trading statement.

The FTSE 100 was up 85 points (1.4%) at 6,271 despite Persimmon’s sliding 5.4% to 2,639p, despite it declaring it would pay a further interim dividend just before Christmas.

“Persimmon’s confirmation of the remaining dividend in December will be welcomed by shareholders. The market backdrop remains strong and the company continues to benefit from that,” said David O’Brien, an equity analyst at Irish stockbroker, Goodbody.

“In the very short term, there may be some disappointment that there is no increase to the completions forecast for FY20; however, Persimmon is a top-quality company and given its robust balance sheet and the fact it operates at the lower end of the market from a pricing perspective, it remains one of the top picks in the sector,” O’Brien suggested.

10.20am: Retail sales rise in October

Total retail sales increased 4.9% in the four weeks to October 31 against a decline of 0.3% in the same period the previous year.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor indicated UK retail sales rose 5.2% on a like-for-like basis.

Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said October was “another solid month” and that the second lockdown will be less severe than the first.

“Retail sales volumes should hold up better during the second ‘lockdown’ than in April and May when they were 26% and 17% below September’s level. Both consumers and retailers have adapted to placing and fulfilling orders online, while non-essential retailers can remain open for click-and-collect orders,” Tombs observed.

“In addition, consumers’ confidence likely won’t plumb the depths seen in the spring. Accordingly, we’re pencilling-in only a 10% month-to-month drop in retail sales in November, followed by a 15% jump in December, as people rush to complete their Christmas shopping in the final weeks before the holidays,” he added.

BRC retail sales for October
 

The FTSE 100 was up 74 points (1.2%) at 6,260.

9.30am: Market shrugs off spike in redundancies

The Footsie bandwagon continues to trundle on, led by aerospace and oil stocks.

The FTSE 100 was up 54 points (0.9%) at 6,241.

The top three Footsie risers are all connected in some way to the aerospace industry; engine maker Rolls Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.), up 24% at 123.7p, is top of the tree, followed by British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines SA (LON:IIAG), which is up 5.1% at 136.6p.

Industrial holding company Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRS), owner of aerospace and automotive engineer GKN, is up 4.1% at 152.1p.

A case could be made for saying oil giants BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) – both up a little more than 3% – are connected to the aerospace sector too, as airlines certainly get through a lot of fuel.

All of these stocks have been hammered since late March, when the pandemic started taking hold in the West, and are clawing back some losses now that investors dare to dream that the apparent success of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech might allow some sort of return to normality.

That “return to normality” might be some way off, judging by the latest UK labour market report.

Early estimates for October 2020 suggest that there was a slight drop over the month in the number of payroll employees in the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Since March 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 782,000; however, the larger falls were seen at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the ONS noted.

The UK employment rate in the three months to September 2020 was estimated at 75.3%, 0.8 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.6 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.

The UK unemployment rate in the three months to September 2020 was estimated at 4.8%, 0.9 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.

In the three months to September 2020, redundancies reached a record high of 314,000; an increase of a record 181,000 on the quarter.

 

“The dam has burst,” was the verdict of Sara Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The government has been up to its elbows trying to stem the flood of job losses since the crisis, but as it gradually stepped back, and announced its plans to reduce support significantly, the deluge of redundancies became unstoppable,” she added.

“We saw a record rise of redundancies. Young people and men have borne the brunt of job losses, with the number of people aged 16-24 at a record low. Self-employed women were also forced to stop working for themselves. Many of them moved into employment, as the draw of flexibility has paled in comparison to the relative security of employment,” Coles said.

8.50am: Advance continues

The FTSE 100 made a solidly positive start to proceedings on Tuesday, building on the significant gains made Monday following the unveiling of an effective coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

The London stocks benchmark index opened 22 points higher at 6,208.30.

Opening above 6,000 for the first time in almost a month, the index of blue-chips defied the profit-takers as COVID-19-affected stocks such as Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), up a further 15%, and IAG, flying 5% higher, led the early charge.

On the FTSE 250, the relief rally continued for Cineworld, up a further 12%, and tour operator TUI (LON:TUI), ahead 7%.

Vaccines euphoria overshadowed some dark economic news from a weaker than expected UK jobs market, where the unemployment rate hit 4.8% last month.

“The latest labour market report is weaker overall, with a significant rise in the number of people without jobs and record redundancies,” said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the influential EY ITEM Club.

“This suggests that that the original October end-date for the furlough scheme was prompting employers to make decisions about their workforces.”

Proactive news headlines:

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) said its licensing partner has made headway with the regulatory authorities in the US ahead of a new optimised phase III study of the former’s lupus treatment. It said the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to accept a submission made by Avion Pharmaceuticals supporting a request for a Type-A meeting that would provide clinical guidance for a phase III trial of the ImmuPharma-developed drug Lupuzor. The information for the Type A meeting was forwarded to the FDA on November 6, 2020, and, normally, a meeting would take place within 30 days. However, this cannot be guaranteed, ImmuPharma said.

Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) said its investee company Paraytec has the resources required to bring its coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kit to the market with the need for a fast and effective Covid screening technology undiminished by the discovery of a vaccine. Braveheart welcomed the vaccine success of Pfizer and BioNTech, which it said was “hugely encouraging”. But it added: “[The] directors believe that the rollout of a vaccine will not lessen the urgent need for a fast, specific and sensitive test for COVID-19 which is what Paraytec is focusing on bringing to market as soon as possible.“

Plexus Holdings Plc (LON:POS), the owner of the proprietary POS-GRIP friction-grip method of wellhead engineering, has entered into a licence agreement with Cameron International Limited, a Schlumberger group company, the world’s leading oilfield services provider. The agreement grants a non-exclusive licence to enable Cameron to use the company’s POS-GRIP and HG metal-to-metal seal method of wellhead engineering for the development of conventional and unconventional oil and gas surface wellheads. Cameron will pay a royalty based on the number of wellheads sold, leased, rented or otherwise supplied in each calendar year in the range of 3% to 6%, which shall apply up to the end of the 2029 calendar year.

88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E, ASX:88E) has released an updated assessment of the conventional resources for Project Icewine, defining some 1.77bn barrels of oil equivalent across multiple features. The Lima Fan prospect in the Seabee formation, notably, is seen to have substantial volumes of oil with prospective resources estimated at 1.4bn barrel, equating to most of the newly stated resource. Project Icewine’s remaining resources are estimated across a series of six Torok formations, the Stella F1 to Stella F6 prospects.

Ceres Power Holdings PLC (LON:CWR) has said its South Korean partner, Doosan, is to jointly develop a solid oxide fuel cell system with shipping company, Navig8. The solid oxide fuel cell system (SOFC) will provide cleaner power for ships and will be based on Ceres’s proprietary SteelCell SOFC stack technology. Doosan will develop and install a SOFC power and propulsion system in a 50,000-ton chemical tanker owned by Navig8 as a pilot programme for commercialisation.

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said its portfolio company Alusid, in which it holds a 35.6% stake, has received a £125,000 investment from the UK government’s Future Fund as part of a £250,000 fundraising via a convertible loan. The investment firm said the investment from the Future Fund, which was established to support innovative UK businesses currently affected by the coronavirus, has been matched by £100,000 from Frontier IP and £25,000 from a private investor. Frontier IP said the funds will be used to accelerate the development and commercial scale-up of Alusid’s patented technology to create premium quality tiles and other surfaces from recycled ceramic, glass and other industrial waste.

Tavistock Investments PLC (LON:TAVI) has announced a sharp increase in half-year adjusted underlying profits (EBITDA) despite the challenges thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s reported adjusted EBITDA in the six months to the end of September 2020 rose by 25% to £1.26mln from £1.01mln the year before, despite revenues easing 7% to £13.38mln from £14.31mln the previous year. The directors of the wealth management firm said they plan to resume dividend payments this (fiscal) year.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has relayed a statement from Egdon Resources which is operator of the Biscapthorpe project, where a planning application is slated for February. Egdon’s statement noted that it will, on behalf of all partners, submit an application for planning permission for side-track well drilling, associated testing and, in a success case, long-term oil production. The project operator added that its application will be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment, after the Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) sought opinion on the need for such a study. Union Jack owns a 30% economic interest in Biscapthorpe.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) and Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RR.) said that Red Rock Australasia Pty Ltd, a company jointly owned by the two firms, has been notified that a further seven of its license applications have been accepted and have been given a highest ranking, following the notification in respect of the first three applications received in early July. Red Rock Australasia will now advertise the seven applications in newspapers with statewide and local circulation, and after a three-week exposure period, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions of the State of Victoria will begin the application assessment process.

City Pub Group Plc (LON:CPC) has announced the appointment of Toby Smith to its board in the newly created role of chief operating officer with effect from November 10, 2020.  The group noted that Smith is a very experienced and senior operator with over 25 years’ experience in UK hospitality. He has held CEO roles with Stonegate Pub Company, Novus Leisure and Town and City Pub Company. Prior to these, he also held senior roles at Laurel Pub Company, Spirit Group and Scottish and Newcastle Retail.

DeepVerge plc (LON::DVRG) has announced, following the offer for Modern Water PLC being declared unconditional in all respects on November 9, 2020, the appointment of Dr Nigel Burton as a non-executive director of the company with effect from Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Burton is a non-executive director of Modern Water, and since 2017 has been instrumental in restructuring and recapitalising several AIM quoted companies, including two successful reverse takeovers. His earlier career included over 14 years as an investment banker at leading City institutions including UBS Warburg and Deutsche Bank, including as the managing director responsible for the energy and utilities industries, and 15 years as chief financial officer or chief executive officer of a number of private and public companies. Ross Andrews, chairman of DeepVerge commented: “I’m delighted that Nigel has accepted our invitation to join the Board and I very much look forward to working with him as DeepVerge moves through its next phase of growth.” Burton added: “I’m pleased to join the team at DeepVerge, who I have enjoyed working with as relationships with Modern Water strengthened, and look forward to supporting them as they create further value in the next exciting phase of the growth of DeepVerge.”

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) has commenced an executive search for a new chief financial officer, following the resignation of Priy Jayasuriya. In the interim, IronRidge has appointed Karl Schlobohm to provide continuity until the search process has been completed. Schlobohm is a qualified chartered accountant who has been the company secretary of IronRidge since 2009 and has previously acted as the company’s chief financial officer.

Seneca Global Income & Growth Trust PLC (LON:SIGT) said it has renewed its £10 mln revolving credit facility with The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited, London Branch for a further two years. The facility bears interest at 1.05% over LIBOR and may be used for the acquisition of investments in accordance with the company’s investment policy and for the funding of share buybacks and dividend payments.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company said it has received a notice to exercise warrants over 3,750,000 new ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the company at an exercise price of 0.7p per share. Subscription monies of £26,250 have been received by Power Metal in respect of these exercises.

Remote Monitored Systems PLC (LON:RMS) said that on November 9, 2020, it granted a total of 77,603,512 options over ordinary shares of 0.01 pence each in the company under its existing share incentive scheme. The group said 38,801,756 options were granted to Trevor Brown, executive director of the company, and 38,801,756  were granted to Paul Ryan, non-executive chairman of the company. This grant of options accounts for approximately 5% per cent. of the company’s total issued share capital. The options have an exercise price of 1.40p per share (being the closing mid-market share price on November 9, 2020), vest immediately, and are exercisable for a period of 5 years. In a separate statement, Remote Monitored noted that Ryan has exercised warrants representing 10,000,000 ordinary shares in the company, at 0.5p per warrant shares and has also sold 6,700,000 ordinary shares in the company.  Following these transactions, Ryan’s shareholding in the company will increase to 70,893,249 shares, representing 4.57% of the enlarged issued share capital and total voting rights of the company.

H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT) has announced that, following a thorough, competitive tender process, it has appointed PKF Littlejohn as auditor to the company with immediate effect. PKF replaces Deloitte which has formally resigned as the company’s auditor and has confirmed to the company that, in accordance with Section 519 of the Companies Act 2006, there are no circumstances in connection with its resignation which it considers need to be brought to the attention of the company’s members or creditors. The group said PKF will conduct the audit of the company’s financial statements for the financial year ending December 31, 2020. The appointment of PKF as auditor for the following financial year will be subject to approval by shareholders at the next annual general meeting of the company to be held in 2021.

Allergy Therapeutics PLC (LON:AGY) has said it intends to hold its annual general meeting (AGM) electronically on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, commencing at 2.00pm GMT. In light of the compulsory government measures in force in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and with the health and well-being of colleagues, shareholders and the wider community in mind, the AGM this year will be run as a virtual meeting in accordance with the provisions of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. Shareholders are therefore not able to attend the AGM in person. The group said its board is arranging a listen-only webinar facility to allow shareholders to attend the AGM and follow proceedings remotely. The webinar details will be published on the homepage of the Company’s website  – www.allergytherapeutics.com – approximately 72 hours before the date and time of the meeting. Shareholders can submit questions for the board in advance of the AGM by email to [email protected] and the board answer such questions at the meeting.

Greatland Gold PLC (LON:GGP), the AIM-listed precious and base metals exploration and development business, has announced that it’s annual general meeting (AGM) will be held virtually on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 9.30am. Shareholders can attend the virtual AGM by clicking on the following link: https://www.investormeetcompany.com/greatland-gold-plc/register-investor.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR), the AIM-quoted exploration company focused on West Africa, said it will hold a virtual investor event on “Senala: Oriole’s prime position in a richly endowed mining district”, where the company’s UK management team will give a live presentation on its Senala project in Senegal, followed by a Q&A session. The virtual investor event will take place at 3pm GMT/10am EST on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and can be accessed by registering at the following link: https://my.6ix.com/bYj5LEYf

6.50am: Footsie called lower by spread bettors 

The FTSE 100 was tipped to give up a chunk of its gains from the first day of the week onTuesday as the initial shot in the arm from the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine news wears off quickly.  

London’s blue-chip index is seen falling by 88 points or 1.4% on Tuesday, according to the IG spread-betting platform, after adding 276 points or 4.7% to close at 6,186.3 the day before.

Wall Street had a mixed time overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrials Average and the S&P 500 index up 2.95% and 1.2%, respectively, but the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.5% as eight of the top ten tech giants saw billions knocked off their valuations.

Asian stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday morning as they missed out on the vaccine bounce yesterday, with the Hang Seng and Nikkei 225 indexes up slightly but the Shanghai composite in the red.

“The new record highs for the Dow, S&P500 and Russell 2000 certainly point to a much greater sense of optimism than at any other time this year, however it still doesn’t hurt to exercise a degree of caution, at a time of still highly elevated levels of uncertainty,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC.

“The results of the Pfizer study are certainly welcome news, a 90% success rate is certainly well above expectations, and as such is a very much needed beacon of light in what has been a dark year for the global economy, however, one swallow does not make a summer, and there still remains some way to go before life as we knew it a year ago, can return to any semblance of normal, in the short or medium term.

“Not only do we have the small matter of trying to navigate the current problems the virus is causing in terms of new lockdowns, the vaccine trial data still needs to be parsed, and as WHO Special Envoy David Nabarro stated yesterday, last stage assessments will still be key in determining whether the vaccine obtains final approval,” Madden added.

Around the markets:

  • Pound is up 0.1% at US$1.3178
  • Gold is up 1% at US$1,885.14 after falling 3.8% yesterday
  • Brent Crude Oil up 5.7% to US$41.96

6.45am: Early Markets: Asia/Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Tuesday as investors reacted to positive developments overnight on the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine front.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.26% while South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.18%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.62% as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.29%.

Shares in Australia advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 gaining 0.66%.

READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE

Proactive Australia news:

Little Green Pharma Ltd (ASX:LGP) has entered into a strategic partnership with national private health insurer Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF) for continued development of medicinal cannabis as a treatment for Australian patients.

Elementos Limited (ASX:ELT) (OTCMKTS:ELTLF) (FRA:9EM) has intersected visible mineralisation in four of the initial six diamond drill holes completed in 2020 exploration drilling at the flagship Oropesa Tin Project in Spain.

Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) has received further strong shallow high-grade drilling results from the Rose Hill Gold Project, near Coolgardie, 35 kilometres west of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Core Lithium Ltd (ASX:CXO) has achieved a key milestone through acceptance into the European Commission’s newly-formed European Raw Materials Alliance – an initiative launched in September 2020.

Macarthur Minerals Ltd (ASX:MIO) (CVE:MMS) (OTCQB:MMSDF) is set to become ‘the green iron ore company’ with its Lake Giles Iron Project in Western Australia to be at the fore of a new global iron ore future that values more sustainable steel products derived from responsible mining practices.

Alicanto Minerals Ltd (ASX:AQI) has hit chalcopyrite copper at Heden East prospect, the second regional target drilled within the Greater Falun Copper-Gold Project in Sweden and has repeated the success from the first target, Green Mile.

Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) continues its aggressive exploration program testing multiple massive sulphide vein (MSV) prospects throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulphide district in northern Vietnam.

Kin Mining NL (ASX:KIN) (FRA:8KM) has started a maiden mineral resource estimate for the Cardinia Hill deposit at the 100%-owned Cardinia Gold Project (CGP) near Leonora in Western Australia, following the receipt of further thick high-grade results from infill drilling.

Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) has yielded a further A$2.3 million in cash from its ongoing program of non-core asset disposals, with total cash generated since March of around A$9 million.

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