- FTSE 100 rises 16 points
- Wall Street opens mixed
- US Q3 GDP raised slightly
2.50pm: Mixed start for Wall Street
The main stock market indices on Wall Street started Tuesday’s session on a mixed footing despite a slight upward revision to the US GDP reading for the third quarter.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.24% to 30,142 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.1% to 3,691. The Nasdaq was the positive outlier, rising 0.25% to 12,774.
The mostly lower start came as the final GDP reading for the third quarter was raised to 33.4% growth, up from the record 33.1% figure recorded in the initial reading.
However, investor sentiment still seems to be being dampened by concerns about COVID-19, Brexit uncertainty, festive malaise and the fallout of the scaled down stimulus package passed by US politicians on Sunday.
While the main figure of the stimulus package attracting attention is the somewhat paltry US$600 per person direct payment, lower than the previous batch of stimulus cheques sent out to Americans earlier this year, the package also provides US$325bn in small business aid, with US$15bn of that earmarked for movie theatres, venues and museums.
The boost for cinemas may be a small relief for cineplex giant AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC) which is trying to stave off bankruptcy as its theatres remain shuttered due to the pandemic. Earlier this month, the company secured a US$100mln lifeline investment from private equity group Mudrick Capital, but said it will require at least US$750mln of additional cash to avoid going bust in 2021. AMC shares were down 0.9% at US$2.64 in early deals.
Back in London, the FTSE 100 had lost some momentum into late afternoon and was up 16 points at 6,433 just after 2.45pm.
2.10pm: It’s beginning to look a lot like the Christmas wind-down
Banks and aerospace-related stocks continue to keep the Footsie on the up.
London’s index of leading shares was up 33 points (0.6%) at 6,449, with UK-focused banks Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) and NatWest Group PLC (LON:NWG) to the fore; the former was up 3.9% at 34.88p and the latter up 3.5% at 158.8p.
“Banks took a beating yesterday because dealers were worried that their credit loss provisions might increase on account of the stricter restrictions that the UK is facing. Airlines have bounced back too as fears in relation to the health crisis have waned a little,” said CMC’s David Madden.
DFS Furniture PLC (LON:DFS), up 10% at 232p, brought some much-needed cheer to the retail sector after it said full-year profit before tax will be in the upper half of the range of forecasts from the analyst community.
Scottish engineer Weir Group PLC (LON:WEIR) was a little off the pace, shedding 0.4% at 1,933.5p after it said the £341mln sale of its oil & gas division is now expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.
The shares galloped 13% higher to 0.14p.
NEWS: Judge finds decision to allow Horse Hill oil production was legal → https://t.co/eyCTYVwPI8 via Surrey Live
— Woking Noticeboard (@wokingboard) December 22, 2020
12.35pm: US indices to open mixed after fiscal stimulus package is approved
US stocks are set for an indecisive start ahead of US third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data due later today.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq Composite are both expected to open a handful of points lower while the S&P 500 is tipped to climb 7 points to open at around 3,701.
Traders can now stop fretting about the coronavirus fiscal stimulus package – until the next one is due – now that lawmakers passed the package into law yesterday.
As for the GDP release, economists are expecting the economy to have grown at an annualised rate of 33.1%, unchanged from the initial estimate.
“It’s probably not going to be revised very much, and even if it is, frankly who cares? It’s ancient history by now. The business cycle is dominated by the pandemic, meaning that Q3 has no predictive power for telling us how Q4 is likely to turn out. With the pandemic being so much worse in Q4 than it was in Q3, there’s no question but that the economy is going to be affected,” said Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss.
Also due for release are existing home sales numbers, where the expectation is for November’s total to have slipped to 6.7mln from October’s 6.85mln.
“Again, is this due to economic conditions or the virus?” asks Mr Gittler.
“Maybe people simply don’t want to go look at houses now. Or perhaps the pent-up demand from earlier in the year, when people really couldn’t look at houses, is starting to fade.
“Already in October, more new homes had been sold in the US this year than in 2018 or 2019 (54.7mn vs 53.1mn and 53.8mn, respectively). Some slowdown would be natural, although of course, nothing is ‘natural’ about this year,” he added.
In London, the FTSE 100 is perfecting its impersonation of the incey-wincey spider and is back on the rise at 6,437, up 20 points.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 is faring even better, up 182 points (0.9%) at 19,873 although it is worth noting that the days leading up to Christmas Day are normally light on volumes and thus share prices can move about a lot on little volume.
“Fears about a new COVID-19 variant had investors rushing for the exit door yesterday; however, sentiment has improved overnight following an announcement by the EU that the Biontech-Pfizer vaccine has been approved and vaccinations can start as early as next week,” said Milan Cutkovic, the market analyst at Axi.
“While governments rushed to impose new restrictions due to the new coronavirus variant, more data will be needed to determine if it really transmits quicker than other variants,” he added.
JUST IN: The chief executive of BioNTech says the pharmaceutical company is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the U.K. variant strain of COVID-19, but further studies are need to be completely sure. https://t.co/HZi9YLGnId
— ABC News (@ABC) December 22, 2020
11.15am: Brexit breakthrough excitement fizzles out
The FTSE 100’s rally proved brief and the index is now more or less back at home base.
The index was down 2 points (0.0%) at 6,415 after a short burst of optimism over a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations fizzled out.
EU Willing To Accept Up To 25% Reduction In UK Waters Catch – RTRS Citing EU Sources
— LiveSquawk (@LiveSquawk) December 22, 2020
The EU had reportedly made a concession on its stance on fishing rights in Britain’s coastal waters but this has (also reportedly) been rejected by the UK.
— Bloomberg Brexit (@Brexit) December 22, 2020
The Brexit rumours have had sterling jerking about like a puppet on a string this morning; currently, the poor old pound is down by just over half a cent against the greenback at US$1.3412.
The big-caps may be mixed but down among the small-caps, there are a couple of big movers in the renewable energy sector.
9.50am: Traders locate the “buy” button under a thick coating of mince pie filling
London’s leading shares have roused themselves to claw back some of yesterday’s losses, led by banks and aerospace-related stocks.
The FTSE 100 was up 26 points (0.4%) at 6,443, with yesterday’s whipping boy, British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (LON:IAG) leading the charge with a 4.4% gain at 150.2p.
“It’s comforting to see that the markets haven’t crashed for a second day in a row. That would suggest investors aren’t panicking,” said AJ Bell’s investment director, Russ Mould.
“US markets overnight were relatively stable, avoiding the gloomy sentiment seen elsewhere thanks to confirmation of the Covid stimulus package,” he noted.
While IAG was topping the FTSE 100, mid-cap airline operator easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) was also feeling the love after it confirmed what it called its “aircraft delivery profile” through to the end of September 2024.
The shares rose 4.2% to 789.2p after the company said it had agreed with Airbus to delay the delivery of 22 aircraft that had been slated for the financial years 2022-2024 to 2027 and 2028.
Mobile phone networks operator Vodafone PLC (LON:VOD) was swimming against the flow, shedding 0.2% at 121.68p after it offered to buy up the rest of Kabel Deutschland Holding (KDG).
If all KDG shareholders accept Vodafone’s tender offer, it could cost the UK company €2.12bn.
— Proactive (@proactive_UK) December 22, 2020
8.35am: Negatives still outweigh positives
After Monday’s triple-digit loss, the FTSE 100’s slide continued on Tuesday – albeit at a much slower pace as the City took stock of the twin threat posed by the coronavirus mutant strain and Brexit.
The index of blue-chip shares fell 15 points in early deals to 6,400.61.
There was some good news in the form of a potential relaxation of restrictions on cross-Channel trade with the UK and France which is expected to restart freight traffic.
Meanwhile, final data showed UK Q3 GDP bounced back by a stronger than previously reported 16.0% quarter-on-quarter after a record contraction of 18.8% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 and a drop of 3.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q1. Even so, GDP in Q3 was still down 8.6% year-on-year and it was also 8.6% below its Q4 2019 level.
The economy benefited from the summer’s progressive easing of restrictions in 2020’s third quarter, as well as additional government stimulus measures.
The real economic impact of the pandemic, however, came in the form of official figures which showed the UK government borrowed £31.6bn, the highest November total on record.
This as Rishi Sunak continues to provide support for businesses and workers affected by lockdown restrictions.
Elsewhere, all appears to have gone eerily quiet on trade negotiations between the UK and EU aimed at hammering out a Brexit deal before the year-end.
According to the Financial Times, the two sides are edging towards a compromise on fisheries in an attempt to unblock a deal.
Proactive news headlines:
[email protected] Capital PLC (LON:SYME) has named Italian private equity group Quadrivio as the partner in its first inventory project. Quadrivio is an alternative investment firm with a focus on Private Equity, Private Debt and Managed Accounts, said [email protected] The firm has cumulatively raised and managed more than €2bn from both Italian and international institutional investors, added the standard market-listed company.
SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE) said it has now formally entered into a joint venture agreement with the Netherlands based N+P Group. The joint venture, NPA Fuels Limited, will produce, market, and deliver waste-derived fuel products to converted coal-fired power station operators throughout the UK.
Bezant Resources PLC (LON:BEZ) said it has agreed to acquire Metrock Resources and the Kanye Manganese Project in Southern Botswana. The initial consideration payable by Bezant at completion is £405,000 by the issue of 150mln Bezant shares at a deemed issue price of 0.27p per share and the issue of 31.8mln options over Bezant shares, at a strike price of 0.4p and an expiry date of September 30, 2024. Bezant will also issue a total of 84.6mln its shares to acquire loans of £198,213 and settle creditors of £30,200 owed by Metrock. The company will at completion settle creditors of Metrock of roughly A$26,508 (about £14,900) in cash. The shares to be issued represent around 6.26% of the enlarged share capital of Bezant.
Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) said it has renewed a contract for its consultancy services with a top-3 global pharmaceutical client through to December 2021. The pharma services and vaccine and antiviral testing firm said it has provided independent, up-to-date and hands-on Chemistry, Manufacturing & Control (CMC) consultancy services to the client since 20212 through the Venn Life Sciences team in the Netherlands.
IQGeo Group Plc (LON:IQG) said it has secured a “significant new contract” for software and services with a tier one Canadian telecoms network operator. The AIM-listed firm said the new contract carries an order value of £1.2mln for software licence subscriptions and implementation services to be recognised over three years, adding that the new customer has selected its geospatial Platform and Workflow Manager software to “rapidly capture and visualise the status of projects, service tickets and critical network assets for office staff and remote field crews”.
Westmount Energy Limited (LON:WTE) (OTCQB:WMELF), an investor in oil exploration assets in the Guyana-Suriname Basin, has increased its stake in JHI Associates to 7.2% following the purchase of 250,000 shares for US$400,000. The main asset of Ontario-registered JHI is a 17.5% carried interest in the Canje Block, which covers over 4,800 square kilometres, offshore Guyana. It sits next to and in the same geologic basin as the Stabroek Block which has delivered eighteen substantial oil discoveries since 2015 for a total of nine billion oil-equivalent barrels. JHI is carried for up to four wells and is funded for the drilling of additional wells.
Seeing Machines Limited (LON:SEE), the transport safety technology company, has said its Fleet (Aftermarket) business continued to grow in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which specialises in artificial intelligence-driven operator monitoring systems, highlighted the performance of the division in the Southern Hemisphere, where recovery from the challenged posed by the pandemic has been “reasonably pleasing”. At the end of November 2020, Seeing Machines said it has a total installed base of more than 26,000 Guardian units, with additional hardware sales of 3,500 units still to be connected, due to vehicle accessibility and the subsequent slower installation rate
Destiny Pharma PLC (LON:DEST) has said it is making good progress with preparations for its phase III trial of a breakthrough new treatment for C. difficile infection (CDI) recurrence, which should get underway in 2022. This follows November’s successful fundraiser, which brought in £10.4mln and the completion of the acquisition of the drug candidate, known as NTCD-M3. Key among the early initiatives was the signing of a major new manufacturing contract that will deliver a more efficient process and a lower cost product. The group has brought on board high-level expertise in the form of Professor Dale Gerding, who has joined the drug developer’s scientific advisory board as well as becoming a “key consultant”.
Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) said that Thani Stratex Djibouti Ltd, a company in which it has an 11.8% stake, has completed phase one of its drilling programme at the Hesdaba gold project in Djibouti. Previously reported intersections from Hesdaba have included up to 15 metres grading 4.08 grammes gold per tonne. At the Assaleyta project, immediately to the east of Hesdaba, construction of a camp, access routes and drill pads is now complete and a phase 2 drilling programme is underway. Initial results from this programme are also expected in the first quarter of 2021.
SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC) said it has secured a new syndicated senior credit facility of up to £125mln with Santander UK and several other major UK and European banks that will provide it with “further capacity” to support its ongoing buy-and-build strategy. The AIM-listed construction materials group said the new facility is comprised of an £85mln committed term facility and a £40mln accordion option for a term of five years with an interest cost of a 2.5% margin over the LIBOR rate at two times net debt to underlying earnings (EBITDA). SigmaRoc said the new facility and the £12.4mln raised in early December has placed it in a “solid position” to continue its strategy and take advantage of “multiple near-term opportunities”.
BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRD) has said it is well on track with expansion plans at its Kareevlei mine in the Kimberley region of South Africa. The crushing circuit will be completed by the end of 2020 and will be commissioned in early January 2021. The rest of the plant is expected to be installed in phases during the first quarter of 2021. The expansion allows for a 75% boost to processing capacity to 130,000 tonnes. The company said it continues to advance its overall expansion strategy to bring volumes up to a million tonnes per year. To support this, BlueRock has also been drilling to boost the resource base.
W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) said it shipped 20 tonnes of tungsten concentrate from the La Parrilla mine in Spain in December. The company also reported record concentrator recovery rates in December of 58.7% tungsten trioxide, increasing from 40% in November. There is also a 25-tonne shipment of tin concentrate at La Parrilla awaiting collection by a customer.
Touchstone Exploration Inc. (LON:TXP) (TSX:TXP) has announced the appointment of Beverley Smith to its board as an independent non-executive director as of December 22, 2020. The group noted that Smith is a chartered geologist and an accomplished business leader with over thirty years of experience in the oil and gas sector, having delivered a portfolio of achievements in a successful international career with BG Group, as vice president Exploration and Growth for Europe and most recently as interim chief executive officer of Hurricane Energy PLC. She has a background in development and production geology and subsurface management, notably in Trinidad (Hibiscus, Poinsettia and Ixora fields), Tunisia (Hasdrubal field) and various operated developments in the United Kingdom including Mercury, Neptune, Minerva, Apollo, Fleming, Drake and Jackdaw fields as well as other non-operated developments. John D. Wright, Touchstone’s chairman commented: “We are delighted that Beverley has joined the Board. Her expertise in international oil and gas, specifically her background in Trinidad, will be instrumental as we continue to explore and develop the Ortoire block.”
IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR), the African-focused minerals exploration company, announced that Christelle Van Der Merwe has been appointed to the board of the company as a non-executive director.
Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) announced on Monday that Glen Lewis, a non-executive director, has notified the company of his resignation from the board for personal reasons with immediate effect. Mark Steed, chairman of Oracle said: “The Board wishes to thank Glen for his contribution to the Company and we wish him the very best for the future.”
Galantas Gold Corporation (LON:GAL) (CVE:GAL), the Northern Ireland gold producer and explorer, with a 100% interest in Northern Ireland’s Omagh gold mine, announced late on Monday that a convertible debenture, as detailed in releases dated December 16 and 23, 2019, has been converted into common shares of the company, by the holder, Melquart Limited. The debenture carried a 15% coupon and was exercisable at a 25% discount to the market price. The capital and interest accruing on the debenture totals £1,150,000 (C$1,968,386 ). As governed by the debenture, 11,410,933 Galantas common shares of no par value have been issued at a price of C$0.1725 each. Following the issuance, Melquart will hold 20,673,528 Galantas common shares, representing 45.1% of the issued share capital of the company and the debenture is satisfied in full.
European Metals Holdings Limited (LON:EMH) (ASX:EMH) (FRA:E861.F) said it has received option exercise notices to subscribe for 100,000 new ordinary shares in the company at a price of 40.18 cents per DI Share, for which subscription monies of A$40,180 have been received, plus option exercise notices to subscribe for a further 100,000 DI Shares at a price of 31.11 cents per DI Share, for which subscription monies of A$31,110 have been received, and option exercise notices to subscribe for a further 200,000 DI Shares at a price of 25 cents per DI Share, for which subscription monies of A$50,000 have been received. The proceeds of the option exercises will be used for general working capital purposes.
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company said it has received notices to exercise warrants over 5,698,000 new ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the company, with 3,198 issued at an exercise price of 1.0p per ordinary share and 2,500,000 at an exercise price of 0.7p per ordinary share. Subscription monies of £49,480 have been received by Power Metal in respect of these exercises.
Bahamas Petroleum Company PLC (LON:BPC), the Caribbean and Atlantic margin focused oil and gas company, with exploration, production, appraisal and development assets across the region, said it has received notification for the exercise of warrants in respect of 3,624,800 ordinary shares of 0.002p each in the capital of the company at an exercise price of 2p per share. Further, Bahamas Petroleum advised that, in relation to funding agreement it announced on December 14, 2020, the company has issued 42,500,000 warrants in relation to advisory fees. These warrants are valid for three years from the date of grant and with an exercise price of 2p per share. If exercised, these warrants would result in gross proceeds being received by the company of approximately £850,000.
Salt Lake Potash Limited (LON:SO4) (ASX:SO4 announced that it has satisfied all remaining conditions precedents under the Syndicated Facility Agreement (SFA) to achieve financial close and has received debt funds from the first drawdown of US$105mln. Tony Swiericzuk, Salt Lake’s chief executive officer commented: “SO4 is very pleased to have achieved financial close on the US$138m Taurus/CEFC debt facility and to have drawn down the initial tranche of US$105m. This is a substantial milestone in the development of the Company and the Lake Way Project. Drawdown has facilitated the repayment of the Bridge facility which enabled SO4 to progress the project substantially since August 2019. In combination with the recent Placement, these funds will ensure the Company is well financed to deliver the Lake Way Project.”
Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) has said its Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Thursday, January 28, 2021, at 12.00pm at the company’s offices at Silk Point, Queens Avenue, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 2BB. Due to the restrictions imposed by the UK government in connection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the AGM will be held as a closed meeting, with only the minimum number of shareholders and directors in attendance. This being the case, shareholders are advised not to travel to attend the meeting as they will not be admitted. Shareholders are therefore urged to register a proxy vote appointing the chairman to vote in accordance with their instructions.
Mosman Oil and Gas Limited (LON:MSMN) has advised that all resolutions put to shareholders at the Annual General Meeting, held in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday were duly passed. The resolutions included one for the reappointment of Mr John Young as a director, and six dealing with the issue of shares and warrants to directors to satisfy amounts outstanding that were deferred due to impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The group said passing of the resolutions removes A$225,000 in debt from its balance sheet, and therefore increases working capital by a similar amount.
Zaim Credit Systems PLC (LON:ZAIM), the Russian focused fintech group providing financial inclusion for those consumers who are not well served by mainstream lenders, announced that it has a new investor presentation which can be found on the group’s new website using the following link: https://www.zaimcreditsystemsplc.com/investor_presentation
Avation PLC (LON:AVAP) said it is scheduled to hold its 2020 annual general meeting (AGM) at 9.00am (UK time) on December 23, 2020. Due to coronavirus restrictions the AGM will be held remotely via Zoom teleconference, and shareholders are invited to participate via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3413107807; zoom meeting id: 341 310 7807
6.50am: Still no seasonal cheer
The FTSE 100 index looks set to extend the previous session’s sharp falls in early trading on Tuesday as any thought of the Christmas festivities ahead remain subsumed within the grim realities of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic mutation and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
Spread betting firm IG Group expects the blue-chip index to open around 24 points lower at 6,3912, having plunged 112.86 points on Monday to close at 6,416.32.
Wall Street stocks were mixed overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrials Average managing to end marginally higher, up 37.40 points, or 0.1% at 30,216.45 after the US Congress on Monday approved a long-awaited $892bn coronavirus aid package.
But the broader S&P 500 index shed 0.3%, while the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1%, and US Dow futures were heading lower on Tuesday.
The weakness continued in Asian markets early on Tuesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropping 1.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.8%.
Markets were running scared amid fears that a highly infectious new strain of COVID-19 hitting Britain and tightening lockdowns could lead to a slower global economic recovery.
This will be contrasted today with the release of the final readings for third-quarter UK and US gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which are both expected to confirm strong initial readings.
For the UK, this means the bounce back expansion of 15.5% for the three months to September from a 19.8% contraction in the previous quarter is likely to remain the same, while for the US this figure is expected to be confirmed at the record-breaking 33.1% growth figure in the third quarter, a rebound from a record plunge of 31.4% in the second quarter.
There is nothing scheduled on the corporate diary to help lift the gloom as the count-down to Christmas saps interest.
Around the Markets:
- Pound up 0.1% at US$1.3384
- Gold up 0.2% to US$1,882.20
- Brent Crude Oil down 1.3% to US$50.71
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Asia-Pacific stocks declined on Tuesday as investors were concerned about a new coronavirus (COVID-19) strain found in the UK.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.04% while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 1.62%.
Chinese shares were lower with the Shanghai composite shedding 1.58% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.05%.
Australia’s retail sales jumped 7% in November as compared with October on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to preliminary retail trade figures released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics.
Proactive Australia news:
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd (ASX:KPT) (KIPT) will receive a $5 million grant from the Forestry Recovery Development Fund to support the development of a biomass pellet plant on Kangaroo Island.
Tempest Minerals Ltd (ASX:TEM)(FRA:LIF) has completed its 2020 reverse circulation (RC) drilling program of 20 holes for 622 metres at Warriedar West Project in WA, with the presence of gold identified at the OK Corral target area.
Australian Vanadium Ltd‘s (ASX: AVL) (OTCMKTS:ATVVF) (FRA:JT71) updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the Australian Vanadium Project at Gabanintha, near Meekatharra in Western Australia reflects robust economics, an extended ore reserve and a revised layout and location.
FYI Resources Ltd’s (ASX:FYI) (FRA:SDL) scheduled high purity alumina (HPA) pilot plant trial in collaboration with Alcoa Australia Limited has concluded successfully, achieving expected operational performances.
Kin Mining NL (ASX:KIN) (FRA:8KM) has updated the mineral resource estimate (MRE) for its Cardinia Gold Project (CGP) in Western Australia, delivering a 22 per cent increase in contained ounces over the previous estimate released in February 2020.