- FTSE 100 index tumbles 54 points
- WPP friendless as fears grow over slowing economic activity
- Dow drops triple digits a day after its worst session in weeks
5.00pm: Footsie closes underwater, US Dow drops 150 points
The FTSE 100 lost 54 points, just shy of 1%, to 5,737.5, and the FTSE 250 dropped 241 points, 1.35%, to 17,611.6.
“European stock markets sold off again as worries about the health crisis have become more entrenched,” CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden wrote Tuesday. “Yesterday was a brutal session for equities as the jump in Covid-19 cases in Europe and the US, plus tougher restrictions, hammered traders’ confidence in the markets. Today, things started out on a relatively quiet note, especially for the FTSE 100, but the coronavirus fears resurfaced.”
WPP PLC (LON:WPP) (NYSE:WPP), the multinational communications, PR, advertising and tech giant, continued to struggle amid the global economic coronavirus concerns, losing 5% to £625.20 in London and 4.7% to $40.76 in New York.
In the US, the DJIA has muddled in the red all day, dropping 152 points, 0.5%, to 27,533.1 at midday. The tech-centric Nasdaq fared much better, gaining 56 points, 0.5%, to 11,414.1, and the S&P 500 ticked down 4.4 points to 3,396.5.
The Dow’s struggles come on the heels of what was its worst day since early September. The slowdown could be linked to rising coronvirus cases, which have averaged a record 69,967 new cases per day over the past week.
Talks are still ongoing between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the possibility that a deal could get done before the November 3 election is still technically alive.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite has been carried by tech players including Microsoft Corporation, which reports quarterly results after the bell Tuesday. The company’s stock is up 1.4% to $213.01.
4.05pm: Leading stocks surrender more ground
It’s been another day of gentle decline for the Footsie and having dipped below 5,800 yesterday, the 5,700 level is looming fast.
London’s benchmark of blue-chip shares was down 62 points (1.1%) at 5,730. The fact that WPP PLC (LON:WPP), a company heavily dependent on economic activity worldwide, was the second-worst heavyweight performer gives a clue as to traders’ concerns.
The advertising and marketing agency was down 5.1% at 624.8p.
Premier Inns owner Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB), 1.8% lower at 2,203p, saw the morning’s gains disappear after an initially favourable response to the Footsie stalwart’s half-year numbers, even though it slipped into the red.
‘The restrictions imposed by the government to limit the spread of infection have been hugely damaging for Premier Inn owner Whitbread which has seen revenues plummet, contributing to a pre-tax loss of £724.7 million. Within that there was a write-down charge of £339.9 million, mainly due to the reassessment of the value of acquisitions in Germany because of the pandemic,” said Hargreaves Lansdown’s Susan Streeter.
“The company is urging customers to book with confidence and is promoting new flexible options to try and persuade them to click without incurring cancellation costs. Management won’t be resting easy though – competition in the budget sector is likely to be fierce as chains compete to fill their empty rooms over the tough winter period,” she added.
2.30pm: Footsie’s losses lengthen
With US stocks mostly lower, the FTSE 100, somnolent for much of today, roused itself to trek southwards.
London’s index of leading shares was down 29 points (0.5%) at 5,763.
Fund management group M&G PLC (LON:MNG), down 6.0% at 156.3p, led the index lower as investors get nervous over the rising tide of coronavirus cases and how this will affect the global economy and thus stock markets.
Insurance giants Legal & General Group PLC (LON:LGEN) and Prudential PLC (LON:PRU), which like M&G are exposed to global securities markets, were also off the pace with the former down 3.6% at 188.5p and the latter down 3.6% at 1,018p.
1.40pm: Wall Street starts on a mixed note
Despite expectations of a broadly positive open, the main indices on Wall Street started Tuesday’s session on a mixed note.
In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.26% to 27,620, while the S&P 500 was broadly flat at 3,399. The one positive performer was the Nasdaq, which rose 0.09% to 11,369.
The mixed start to the session showed that uncertainty around coronavirus and the upcoming election may have dampened initial positivity, with a better than expected rise in US durable goods orders for September, which saw a 1.9% rise compared to 0.4% in August.
Back in London, the FTSE 100 had shifted into the negative and was down 22 points at 5,769 at 1.40pm.
12.25pm: Retail boost from pent-up demand “has likely now largely run its course”
Retail sales fell in the year to October, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey.
The industry pressure group said the results of its survey of 116 firms, of which 54 were retailers, suggested a loss of momentum from September when sales rose at the fastest pace for 18 months.
The CBI’s sales balance fell back to a four-month low of -23% in October from an 18-month high of +11% in September.
Conditions across the retail sector were mixed, the CBI said. Grocery volumes were flat, following five months of strong growth.
As for the non-food retail categories, department stores, clothing and ‘other normal goods’ were among those reporting falling sales, while retailers of furniture, DIY and recreational goods reported strong growth. Internet sales growth also picked back up to the long-run average.
“It’s no surprise that sales have dipped despite no new direct restrictions on retail in England, as the evidence from earlier in the year suggests consumers become more cautious as case numbers rise,” said Ben Jones, the principal economist at the CBI.
“With footfall still down by one third, many retailers face a difficult run-up to the all-important Christmas period. It is vital that local authorities use their discretion over the new Tier 2 grant funding to target support in a way that helps keep town and city centres open for business,” he suggested.
Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said October’s softer CBI survey suggests the environment for retail sales and consumer spending will be more challenging in the near term, following the strong recovery in the third quarter.
“This reflects increased restrictions on activity, possible markedly rising unemployment, limited earnings and mounting consumer caution. Furthermore, the boost from pent-up demand has likely now largely run its course,” Archer opined.
The FTSE 100 was back at square one – or last night’s closing level of 5,792 if you prefer.
11.20am: US indices to bounce back after yesterday’s mini-shakeout
US indices are expected to claw back some of yesterday’s losses as bargain hunters move back in after yesterday’s cage-rattling.
Spread betting quotes point to the Dow Jones opening 117 points firmer at 27,802 and the S&P 500 kicking off 17 points firmer at 3,418.
The high-flying NASDAQ Composite was anything but yesterday, shedding 189 points, but it looks set to claw back those losses and more with a 211 point hike to 11,569.
The tech-heavy index received another fillip before the bell from a bit of merger & acquisitions activity, with computer chip giant Advanced Micro Devices – AMD to its fans – launching a US$35bn all-share offer for Xilinx, the programmable system-on-chip specialist.
Elsewhere, 3M Co beat expectations with its third-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of US$2.43; analysts had pencilled in a figure of US$2.26.
Drugs maker Eli Lilly’s third-quarter numbers failed to come up to snuff, however. Adjusted EPS of US$1.54 was comfortably below the US$1.71 analysts had been expecting.
The company confirmed overnight that its US clinical trial of an experimental antibody therapy will end as data suggested that the treatment is unlikely to help hospitalised patients recover from advanced forms of the coronavirus.
Turning to macroeconomic events, the US durable goods report is due out an hour before the market opens, with economists expecting a 0.5% increase for September, the same as for August.
Half an hour after trading starts (remember, the clocks have yet to go back in the USA), the US Case-Shiller house price index and Conference Board consumer confidence releases are expected.
The former is tipped to show 0.5% growth in August, down marginally from July’s 0.6% increase.
The Conference Board consumer confidence reading for October is expected to nudge up to 102 from 101.8 in September.
In the UK, although the Footsie has moved into positive territory after a soft start, its fluctuations are not exactly getting the blood rushing.
Still, with most European indices in the red, a 6 point (0.1%) rise to 5,797 for the FTSE 100 is not to be sniffed at.
10.00am: Inaction rules the roost
London’s blue-chips are still seeking direction with traders hesitant to commit as the US presidential election looms and the Brexit countdown continues.
Banking giant HSBC is 6.6% heavier at 340.6p after its third-quarter showing was not as grim as feared and management hinted that it would pay a “conservative” dividend for the current financial year if allowed to do so by the Bank of England.
“The bank reported profit before tax was down 36% to US$3.1bn, mainly from lower revenue, which declined 11% to US$11.9bn. Asia was the sole source of positive income as it reported profit before tax of US$3.2bn in the third quarter, despite interest rate headwinds. It underlines the fact HSBC’s exposure and reliance on Greater China have been a positive this year in the wake of the pandemic and the economic recovery in that region being swifter than in Europe/US,” said Neil Wilson at Markets.com.
BP was 1.9% higher at 203.75p as it returned to profit.
’It’s still tough out there for BP, but there are signs that the company has turned a corner, with underlying profit coming in at US$100 million. It’s a stark improvement on the underlying loss of US$6.7bn in the second quarter when it took a huge hit after writing down the value of its oil fields and exploration projects. An uptick in global demand for oil has certainly helped but there is still a huge task ahead for the company to make the pivot to a green energy future while grappling with the collapse in the oil price,” said Susanna Street at Hargreaves Lansdown.
8.30am: Miserly start for Footsie
The FTSE 100 index started Tuesday as flat as a pancake with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection fears still weighing heavily on sentiment.
The index of UK top stocks nudged ahead a miserly 1 point in early trade to 5,792.91.
Given the carnage on Wall Street, it could have been worse. The Dow Jones Industrials Average fell 650 points overnight as pre-election stimulus package hopes were finally extinguished, while the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite also slid.
Stabilising thing a little in Asia was the surprise showing of HSBC (LON:HSBA), which brought with it echoes of the famous cable sent by Mark Twain to one obituarist: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
A smaller-than-expected 35% tumble in quarterly profits, while not hailed in awed tones, did at least provide a fillip to a beleaguered share price that has lost 43% since February. In early trade, stock in the London-based Asian bank was up 5%.
“Much of the finer detail will come at the annual results in the new year, but HSBC is clearly making strides to streamline wherever possible,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.
“It is bearing down on costs (operating expenses were slightly lower in the quarter) while also planning investment in its core Asian region, partly with the use of new technology.
“At the same time, the business is being shifted where possible towards a fee-based model, given the likelihood of historically low-interest rates to crimp margins.”
Proactive news headlines:
Clear Leisure PLC (LON:CLP) has issued an update on its €10.8mln Sipiem SpA in Liquidazione legal claim against the previous management and audit committee. The AIM-listed group said the independent expert appointed by the court has formally accepted the appointment under oath at a hearing held on October 21 and will begin his assessment work on November 5. Sipiem, the claimant, has appointed its own expert while the defendants have appointed two separate experts. The judge has set the hearing for consideration of the expert reports for March 10, 2021.
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC’s (LON:BMY) interim results statement was a real page-turner with a happy ending, as earnings came in ahead of management’s expectations. Adjusted profit before tax shot up to £4.04mln in the six months to the end of August 2020, from £2.51mln in the same period of 2019. Reported profit before tax soared to £3.04mln from £1.30mln the previous year, with the difference between the adjusted and reported figures being largely accounted for by £883,000 (2019: £864,000) of amortisation of acquired intangible assets. Revenues rose by 10% to £78.3mln from £71.3mln the year before, driven by strong online book sales and e-book purchases.
Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) said good progress is being made at its CS Perlite-Pozzolan Project to deliver test samples of perlite to potential offtake partners. In a stock market release providing updates on the company’s projects in Nevada (USA) and Western Australia, Sunrise said a 100-ton bulk sample of perlite is to be processed at the end of this week at the CS Pozzolan-Perlite Project. Around 20-30 tons of coarse horticultural grade raw perlite will subsequently be split between five different customers across the USA for expansion testing.
Condor Gold PLC (LON:CNR)(TSE:COG) has commenced a ground investigation program consisting of 20 geotechnical drill holes and 58 test pits on the tailings storage facility, water retention reservoir and processing plant site at La India project, Nicaragua. Condor is accelerating La India project from a pre-feasibility level of design to final engineering designs on key infrastructure, in preparation for construction on the fully-permitted La India gold mine project.
Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) said it is “well funded” to continue development of its Bougouni lithium project in southern Mali as it secured additional financing from a loan agreement. In an update, the mineral explorer said the second and final advance of US$750,000 under its US$1.5mln convertible loan note agreement with Riverfort Global Opportunities and YA II PN Ltd meant it had sufficient funds to continue the gold exploration strategy at Bougouni, adding that progress on its mining licence application for the project has recommenced with all documents updated for the new ministry and interim constitution of the Mali Transition Government.
ECSC Group PLC (LON:ECSC), the cybersecurity services specialist, has landed two major contracts with a combined revenue value of £580,000. The new work has been won through the Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Division and the unnamed customers are major companies in the rail and building supplies sectors. The company said it will provide around-the-clock cybersecurity monitoring, detection and response support in the UK and Australia employing its Kepler Artificial Intelligence technology. Separately, ECSC said it has delivered its first Nebula Cloud MDR service to another new client, utilising its AI technologies.
Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) has announced that the company’s Vejnaly project, which lies in territory previously occupied by Armenia, has now been restored to the control of the Azerbaijan government. Vejnaly is in the Zangilan district of Azerbaijan, occupied by Armenia since 1994. The Zangilan district is mineral-rich in the south-west of Azerbaijan. Under the terms of the company’s existing production sharing agreement, the company has been granted the right to exploit Vejnaly, which is close to the villages of Amirkhanly and Aghband. The contract area covers approximately 300 square kilometres and contains the Vejnaly deposit which contains 6.5 tonnes of gold in the C1 and C2 categories.
Induction Healthcare Group PLC (LON:INHC) said its Induction Zesty platform, working in collaboration with Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and health IT services group Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN), has recently supported the rollout of Health Records on iPhone to patients at the Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Trust (MKUH), one of the first two NHS hospital trusts to launch the feature in the UK. The company said that hospitals using the Induction Zesty patient portal and Cerner Millennium, an electronic health records platform, can now take advantage of Zesty’s very high patient adoption rates to maximise the number of patients accessing their health records on their iPhone.
ANGLE PLC (LON:AG) (OTCQX:ANPCY) has unveiled plans to raise £20mln, an additional investment that will propel the company firmly into the commercial phase of its development. Parsortix, its breakthrough liquid biopsy, has now been submitted for clearance by the US Food & Drug Administration for use in women with metastatic breast cancer. Now management is looking at how best to develop and deploy its technology.
Cornish Lithium Ltd has appointed Varshan Gokool as its chief financial officer. Gokool will join the Cornish Lithium executive team to assist in the development of lithium projects in Cornwall in an economically and financially robust framework. He has over 22 years of experience in guiding publicly listed mining companies from project definition through to development and construction. Gokool was most recently president and CEO of Euromax Resources Ltd.
Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX), the drug discovery and development company focused on cancer and fibrosis has appointed Dr Jane Robertson as its chief medical officer. She is a well-respected UK haemato-oncologist with more than 17 years’ experience of clinical development in oncology (cancer treatment) and has a breadth of experience investigating multiple tumours and agents. Dr Robertson is currently the chief medical officer at Achilles Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on the creation of a personalised T cell therapy directed against clonal tumour neoantigens. She will commence her role at Redx at the beginning of March next year.
IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) has revealed final results from its second phase drilling programme at the Ebilassokro and Ehuasso targets, both within the Zaranou gold project area in Cote D’Ivoire. The licence borders with Ghana and is along strike from significant operating gold mines including Chirano, Bibiani and Ahafo. Among the highlights from Ehuasso were five metres at 33.63 grams per tonne gold, 14 metres at 4.67 grams and nine metres at 4.16 grams.
Amur Minerals Corp (LON:AMC) has revealed that certain existing shareholders of Nathan River Resources Pte Ltd have opted to provide further US$10mln in equity financing to advance the shipment of stockpiles and processing of mined blocks at the Roper Bar iron ore project in the Northern Territories, Australia. The idea is to take advantage of the current high iron ore prices. Amur was offered the opportunity to participate in the additional equity but declined to focus existing funds on the Kun-Manie nickel-copper sulphide project.
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company announced it has received a notice to exercise warrants over 5,596,800 new ordinary shares of 0.1 pence each in the company at an exercise price of 1.0p per ordinary share. Subscription monies of £55,968 have been received by Power Metal in respect of these exercises.
Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU), the exploration and development company operating in Turkey, said it has been informed of the following share transactions. On October 23, 2020, Michael de Villiers, its chairman, disposed of 500,858 ordinary shares in the company at 5.61p per share; on the same date, de Villiers purchased 425,000 ordinary shares in his SIPP at 5.86p per share; and on the same date, his wife purchased 75,000 ordinary shares in her SIPP at 5.86p per share. Accordingly, the holding of de Villiers now stands at 55,799,142 ordinary shares in the company, representing a holding of 5.25%.
Instem PLC (LON:INS), a leading provider of IT solutions to the global life sciences market, has said it will be hosting a presentation through the digital platform, Investor Meet Company, at 4.30pm November 4, 2020. The company will discuss recent results, where it provided an update on trading and progress on its acquisition strategy following its July 2020 fundraiser. It will also discuss divisional developments, specifically within the areas of Informatics and SEND (the Standard for the Exchange of Non-clinical Data). No new price sensitive information will be provided. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add to meet Instem via the following link: https://investormeetcompany.com/instem-plc/register-investor. A copy of the presentation will be made available on the company’s website shortly after the presentation.
Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK), the aquaculture health, advanced nutrition, and genetics business, has said it will announce its full-year results, for the period ended September 30, 2020, on Friday, November 27, 2020. It added that Trond Williksen, the group’s chief executive officer and Septima Maguire, its chief financial officer will host a webcast for analysts on that day at 8’30am UK time. To register interest, investors should contact: [email protected]
6.50am: Dead cat bounce?
The FTSE 100 index is expected to open slightly higher on Tuesday, edging back above the 5,800 level surrendered on Monday as Asian markets stabilised somewhat and global banking giant HSBC PLC (LON:HSBA) posted a smaller-than-expected 35% drop in quarterly profit, citing an expected improvement in the economic outlook for its main markets.
The tick up, however, comes in the face of big overnight falls on Wall Street amid fears over a jump in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and worries over the lack of a US stimulus package as the outcome of next week’s presidential election creates uncertainty.
Spread betting firm CMC Markets expects the blue-chip index to open around 9 points higher at 5,807, having shed 68.27 points on Monday to close at 5,792.01.
Overnight in New York, the Dow Jones Industrials Average dropped 650 points, or 2.3% to end at 27,685, albeit above the session lows, while the broader S&P 500 index fell 1.9%, and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite lost 1.6%.
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA commented: “The ‘blue wave’ stimulus trade hit a reef overnight, as another night of no progress on US stimulus talks tested the conviction of investors. The effects were most noticeable on US equity markets which finished deeply in the red, sucked out to sea by the receding blue wave.
“The surge in Covid-19 cases around the world, notably Europe, has also sapped confidence, increasing fears of a ‘double-dip’ scenario.”
Asian markets were more mixed Tuesday, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.8%, but Japan’s Nikkei 225 index only slipping by 0.1%.
OANDA’s Halley noted: “Asian markets are benefiting from not buying so enthusiastically into the US stimulus trade as Wall Street. But with Covid-19 crushing European equities, and a re-pricing of risks now occurring in the US, Asia will not be immune. I continue to expect that risk will be taken off the table as the week progresses, meaning that rallies will be short, with risks skewed to the downside.”
HSBC starts corporate news flow
This week’s deluge of corporate updates kicked off with a vengeance on Tuesday, with the numbers from Hong Kong-based global bank HSBC.
Reported pre-tax profit for the Asian-focused lender came in at $3.1bn for the quarter ended September 30, higher than the $2.07bn average of analysts’ forecasts compiled by the bank.
HSBC also said it expected losses from bad loans to be at the lower end of the $8bn to $13bn range it set out earlier this year.
The bank revealed as well that it would embark on a transformation of its business model, seeking to switch its main source of income from interest rates to fee-based businesses and also accelerated plans to shrink in size and slash costs further than previously suggested.
HSBC’s Hong Kong-listed shares rose over 5% in response.
BP and Whitbread due too
BP’s third-quarter results may make grim reading for oil investors.
In a preview, Swiss bank UBS pointed out the obvious, by describing the third quarter as “a difficult period” – with the oilers’ share price down nearly 28% since its prior quarterly results and strategy reboot.
Previously, BP lowered production guidance for the quarter but UBS noted that the company “will be essentially balanced from a cashflow perspective”.
The Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre parent previously reported that sales had slowed by 77% for the half.
On that basis, first-half earnings (EBITDA) will fall to a £285mln loss from a £285mln profit in the same period a year ago, according to forecasts from UBS.
Around the Markets:
- Sterling: US$1.3007, up 0.1%
- Gold: US$1,904.60 an ounce, up 0.1%
- Brent crude: US$40.77 a barrel, up 0.5%
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower on Tuesday following an overnight tumble on Wall Street.
Australian shares led losses among the region’s major markets, with the S&P/ASX 200 slipping 1.7%.
In China, the Shanghai composite was flat while Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.04%.
South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.56% even as the country’s real gross domestic product grew 1.9% in the third quarter as compared to the previous quarter.
Proactive Australia news:
Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) (ASX:SOR) has almost trebled this morning with subsidiary Australian Advanced Materials (AAM) agreeing to develop a self-charging battery technology in a collaboration with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and CSIRO.
Whitebark Energy Ltd’s (ASX:WBE) Canadian subsidiary Salt Bush Energy (SBE) has renewed the mineral lease over a 256-hectare section of Wizard Lake Oilfield (WLO), which will result in Whitebark’s average interest in WLO oil and gas rights increasing to 87.5% from 84%.
Marvel Gold Ltd (ASX:MVL) has intersected karst horizons in the majority of holes drilled to date at Lakanfla Gold Project in western Mali at various depths and thickness within the first 60 metres from the surface.
Theta Gold Mines Ltd (ASX:TGM) has received an indication of support from South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) for its application to amend Mining Right 83 to also permit open pit mining at the Theta Gold Project.
FYI Resources Ltd (ASX:FYI) (FRA:SDL) has completed a detailed high purity alumina (HPA) production trial through the pilot plant in Welshpool, Western Australia, aimed at aligning the company’s product to the specifications required of particular end-users in both the LED and battery directed markets.
Creso Pharma Limited’s (ASX:CPH) (OTCMKTS:COPHF) (FRA:1X8) wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Mernova Medicinal Inc, a licensed producer in Nova Scotia, has received and delivered its third purchase order from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC).
Zelira Therapeutics Ltd’s (ASX:ZLD) (OTCQB: ZLDAF) (FRA:G1G) proprietary cannabinoid medicines, HOPE 1™ and HOPE 2™, are now available by prescription to patients in Australia through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) Special Access Scheme and through authorised prescribers.
Walkabout Resources Ltd (ASX:WKT) spent the September quarter actively engaged in developing the fully permitted, 100%-owned high-grade Lindi Jumbo Graphite Project in South-East Tanzania and has progressed negotiations for debt and equity fundraising to secure the capital required for construction.