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FTSE 100 kicks off the week in positive territory; Vodafone numbers strike the right tone

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The FTSE 100 opened firmly in the green, taking its cue from Asia’s buoyant markets.

Wall Street’s positive close on Friday helped boost sentiment, while the formation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership also seemed to put a pep in the step of traders.

This is a new trading bloc that has seen heavyweight economies such as China, Japan and South Korea join forces with Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

A better than expected 5% expansion in the Japanese economy, meanwhile, appeared to counteract the retail sales miss by China.

Here in London, all eyes were on Vodafone, which is the first of a handful of blue-chip companies reporting this week.

The shares opened 3.9% higher after the telco proved resilient to the pandemic slowdown in business travel.

Richard Hunter, head of capital markets at Interactive Investors, had this to say of Vodafone’s interims: “Overall, the industry remains one where for customers, price dominates, regardless of the improvements which individual service providers may be making under the bonnet.

“The commercial progress which Vodafone is making is, nonetheless becoming clearer. Excluding roaming, second quarter service revenues increased by 1.5%, which is promising for post-pandemic prospects.”

Leading the risers with a 5.5% gain was Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), a pandemic bounce-back stock. On the FTSE 250, Cineworld (LON:CINE) , up 6.7%, was also in recovery mode.

Proactive news headlines

Remote Monitored Systems PLC (LON:RMS) said its subsidiary, Pharm 2 Farm Limited (P2F) is anticipating excess demand for its antiviral face masks which may outstrip the production line capacity of 5mln masks per month. The AIM-listed firm said that to fulfil part of the expected excess demand, P2F will supply its patented filter material, initially, to certain partner mask manufacturers until it has procured its own additional production lines.

Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) said its strategic research agreement with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has helped it achieve a major objective set at its 2018 IPO of growing its ‘anonymised’ database to over 5mln patient records. The latest tie-up pulls in 1.1mln unique records from a population of 600,000. In total, the company now has information for 5.6mln patients.

Inspiration Healthcare Group PLC (LON:IHC) said it has received confirmation from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to proceed with clinical testing for Project WAVE, a respiratory device it has designed for use in neonatal intensive care.

Supermarket Income REIT PLC (LON:SUPR), the specialist grocery site investor, has acquired a new site in at Beaumont Leys, Leicester from British Land and occupied by Tesco Extra and discount chain Aldi.

DeepVerge PLC (LON:DVRG) said it has started deployment of its Microtox PD near-source wastewater contamination test equipment into water treatment plants in Ireland, with first shipments to China and the US expected by the end of the year. DeepVerge also said that it has agreed to license a patented breathalyser from PulMoBioMed, a spin-out technology company of Northumbria University, to capture coronavirus particles in breath condensate for the DeepVerge optofluidic breath test, known as Microtox BT.

Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) has announced the launch of a new reusable plastic bag product designed to keep climacteric fruit and vegetables – those that continue to ripen after being picked – fresher for longer. The SYMFresh ‘press’n’seal’ fruit and vegetable bags have been made with Symphony’s d2p ethylene adsorber technology, a microporous structure which adsorbs and traps the ethylene inside the film, delaying ripening and regulating moisture, to slow down the drying out process.

Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) said it has signed a management services agreement with Irish publishing brand Lovin’ Media following its acquisition by Greencastle Acquisition Limited. The media and technology firm said it will take over responsibility for all operational and strategic management of Lovin’s Media with immediate effect, and that it will be paid a monthly management fee of £10,000 plus external costs as well as 25% of all profits if certain revenue and profit targets are met.

Frontier IP Group (LON:FIPP) said one of its portfolio companies, Fieldwork Robotics, has received a £145,000 grant from the Sustainable Innovation Fund.

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) has acquired two highly prospective gold projects in Western Australia. The acquisition of the projects will be satisfied by a payment of £90,000 in cash and the issue of just under 43mln shares, with warrants at 1.1p attached. 

Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) has completed the processing of a 100 ton bulk sample of perlite taken from its CS Pozzolan-Perlite project in Nevada, USA. The company also updated on progress at other projects.

Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) is acquiring the Merolia gold project near Laverton, Western Australia, from White Cliff Minerals Ltd for cash and shares. Panther will pay A$112,500 in cash on the successful completion of a due diligence period, as well as 734,470 shares. 

Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) told investors that the early production facility (EPF) at the West Rustavi oil and gas field is now ready to receive gas. It is now connected to the WR-16aZ and WR-38Z wells which presently remain shut-in until a gas sales line has been constructed and gas sales can begin.

TomCo Energy PLC (LON:TOM) has raised £3.5mln which is earmarked to progress plans of Greenfield Energy, the company’s joint ventures with Valkor LLC.

Stobart Group Ltd (LON:STOB) said Aer Lingus has opted not to make Stobart Air the preferred supplier for a new commercial agreement due to start in 2023. Stobart Air will continue to operate the Aer Lingus franchise until the end of 2022. 

Zoetic International plc (LON:ZOE) said its joint-CEOs, Trevor Taylor and Antonio Russo, each has purchases 500,000 ordinary shares. Taylor and Russo now each hold 6.95mln ordinary shares, equivalent to roughly 3.57% of the company apiece.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) has appointed Amanda Harsas as full time chief financial officer with immediate effect. Harsas, who will not sit on the board, has more than 20 years’ experience in strategic finance, business transformation, commercial finance, customer and supplier negotiations and capital management, working across several sectors=.

Jubilee Metals Group PLC (LON:JLP) said it will host a webcast this Wednesday, ahead of its annual general meeting on December 3. Shareholders will have an opportunity to engage with the board for a general company update and discussion of the group annual results on November 18 at 9am UK time (11am SA time). 

Brickability Group PLC (LON:BRCK) said its chief financial officer, Stuart Overend, will be taking a leave of absence due to ill health.

Mkango Resources Ltd (LON:MKA)(CVE:MKA) has highlighted the launch of a new website for Maginito Ltd (www.maginito.com), together with a new Maginito company presentation. Maginito is 75.5% owned by Mkango, which is completing a feasibility study for the Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi, and 24.5% owned by Talaxis Ltd, which is focused on investment in and development of technology metal opportunities.

6.23 am: Positive start predicted

The FTSE 100 look set to get off to a positive start to the trading week, taking its cue from Asia’s main markets.

The big driver behind the positivity was the formation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

This is a new trading bloc that has seen heavyweight economies such as China, Japan and South Korea join forces with Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

“The fact that the agreement got over the line after eight years of negotiation between a widely disparate group of nations, is an achievement in itself,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“That has left the Asia-Pacific with a feeling that there is life in the world, with or without the United States. Asia Pacific stock markets have rallied, oil has risen, and the US Dollar has gently fallen today.”

A better than expected 5% expansion in the Japanese economy also helped lift sentiment in the region – so much so that the retail sales miss by China was largely forgiven.

Back here in the UK, Boris Johnson’s reboot plans after the departures of chief adviser Dominic Cummings and head communications, Lee Cain, have taken a hit.

On Sunday evening it emerged the PM has been forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Tory MP who later developed COVID-19 symptoms.

From Westminster to the City

It is expected to be another busy week with corporate updates scheduled from Vodafone (LON:VOD), Imperial Brands (LON:IMB), Royal Mail (LON:RMG) and easyJet (LON:EZJ).

Inflation and retail sales data should provide an update on the health (or otherwise) of UK PLC.

On the markets

  • Pound US$1.3224 (+0.27%)
  • Bitcoin US$16,213.85 (+0.78%)
  • Gold US$1,890.00 (+0.20%)
  • Brent crude US$43.25 (+1.1%)   

6.45 am: Early Markets: Asia / Australia

Asian markets surged today after 15 countries in the region signed a deal to form the world’s largest trade alliance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The alliance, which marks the first time that China, Japan and South Korea are in a single trade agreement, aims to gradually reduce tariffs across many areas.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 2.05%, while South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.83%.

China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.81% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.60%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 made gains in early trading to rise 1.23% but a system failure halted the market and forced it to close early.

Proactive Australia news:

Castillo Copper Ltd (ASX:CCZ) (LON:CCZ) (FRA:7OR) has observed broad copper oxide and sulphide mineralisation at shallow depths in the first seven drill holes at Big One Deposit within the core Mt Oxide Project in northwest Queensland.

Alicanto Minerals Ltd (ASX:AQI) has a maiden JORC 2012-compliant inferred resource of 500,000 ounces at 1.8 g/t gold for its 100%-owned Arakaka Gold Project in Guyana, South America.

CV Check Ltd (ASX:CV1) achieved its best sales for an October month on record boosted by first orders from recent new client wins and a broad-based strengthening of demand across its client base.

Walkabout Resources Ltd‘s (ASX:WKT) initial reconnaissance soil sampling program completed at the 100%-held Amani Hard Rock Gold Project in southwest Tanzania, has identified multiple gold anomalies which it believes confirms the hard rock potential of the project tenure.

Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) has poured first gold in its third toll milling campaign from trial mining at Boorara Gold Mine, which is 10 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the Goldfields of Western Australia.

PNX Metals Ltd (ASX:PNX) has allowed the exclusivity period relating to a proposed joint venture for the funding of infrastructure and production sharing for its 100% owned Fountain Head Gold deposit to lapse.

St George Mining Ltd (ASX:SGQ) is buoyed by further positive exploration results from the flagship Mt Alexander Project in the north-eastern Goldfields of Western Australia.

Havilah Resources Ltd (ASX:HAV) (FRA:FWL) has raised $2.55 million in an oversubscribed placement to institutional and sophisticated investors with funds to advance the company’s key projects in northeast South Australia, near the mining stronghold of Broken Hill.

Emmerson Resources Ltd (ASX:ERM) has entered a new strategic alliance with Tennant Consolidated Mining Group (TCMG) for the Northern Project Area (NPA) of Tennant Creek in Northern Territory aimed at driving aggressive gold exploration, production and royalty streams.

Castillo Copper hits broad copper oxide and sulphide mineralisation at Big One

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