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FTSE 100 nudges tentatively higher; Rolls Royce well bid after record annual loss (go figure)


The FTSE 100 got off to a positive if unspectacular start with London’s traders greeting America’s sign-off a US$1.9 trillion economic bail-out package with a collective ‘meh’.

Instead, the City’s movers and shakers appeared to be living in the here and now with Britain still in lockdown, and hotspots such as Brazil seeing record levels of Covid-related deaths.

Asia’s main markets advanced as yield worries and inflation fears moderated, while on Wall Street the picture was mixed. The Dow ‘industrials’ ended 460-odd points higher, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ stood pat.

Amid the carnage of its huge annual loss, there appeared to be crumbs of comfort for investors in Rolls Royce (LON:RR.) – judging from the share price that is, which was up 3.6% early doors.

Perhaps the driver was the outlook statement in which Rolls said it expected large engine flying hours to increase to about 55% of 2019 levels, from 43% in 2020. It’s bad, but not disastrous appeared to be the market’s take.

Shares in Wm Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW) fell 1.3% after it unveiled full-year results weighed down by additional costs, including £290mln for extra staffing, store-safe preparation and extra distribution. And of course, it repaid £230mln of business rates relief.

“Morrisons may never again face such a year of change, challenge and cost and to have finished the year ahead is some achievement,” said Richard Hunter of Interactive Investor.

“The pandemic has not been a green light for supermarket profits as some originally imagined.”

6.50 am: FTSE 100 set for positive start

The FTSE 100 is seen starting Thursday in positive territory as global equity markets stayed buoyant after America sealed its US$1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

CFD firm IG Markets has the London index up around 24 points, making the price 6,743 to 6,746 with just over an hour before the start of trading.

President Biden now only needs to add his squiggle to the economic rescue package which was yesterday passed by Congress.

It overlapped with easing concerns over inflation in the United States as headline stats met expectations and core readings was below consensus forecasts.

“Now that it seems that inflation won’t be too much of a worry in the near-term that could act as a cap to the US dollar, and as a floor to equities as well as gold,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

Stocks in New York rallied, somewhat. The Dow Jones scaled 464 points or 1.46% on Wednesday to reach a new record close at 32,297, meanwhile, the S&P 500 added 0.6% to 3,898 and the Nasdaq dipped a smidgen lower to 13,068.

The positive sentiment carried to Asia, where Japan’s Nikkei moved 0.6% higher to 29,211 and the Hang Seng climbed 1.17% to 29,247 and the Shanghai Composite marked a 1.7% gain to 3,419.

Around the markets

The pound: US$1.3936, up 0.03%

Gold: US$1,733 per ounce, up 0.38%

Silver: US$26.27 per ounce, up 0.39%

Brent crude: US$68.39 per barrel, up 1.28%

WTI crude: US$64.90 per barrel, up 1.39%

Bitcoin: US$55,690, up 3.02%

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on Thursday after US lawmakers passed a US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Wednesday.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 1.08% while the Shanghai Composite in China surged 1.74%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.6% and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.96%.

Shares in Australia were flat, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.003% lower.


Proactive Australia news:

Alto Metals Ltd (ASX:AME) has received $2.1 million in cash and issued 30 million fully paid new company shares through the conversion of 30 million unlisted options at an issue price of 7 cents per share.

Mako Gold Ltd (ASX:MKG) has intersected further wide high-grade gold during ongoing drilling at Tchaga prospect within the flagship Napié Project in Côte d’Ivoire enhancing the company’s plan to outline a maiden resource at the prospect.

Antipa Minerals Ltd (ASX:AZY) has identified new targets for exploration at the Wilki farm-in Project with Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX:NCM) in the Paterson Province in Western Australia off the back of new 2020 drill results.

MMJ Group Holdings Ltd’s (ASX:MMJ) publicly listed portfolio companies have taken advantage of continued positive news on the regulatory front for cannabis.

Imugene Ltd (ASX:IMU) (OTCMKTS:IUGNF) will present on two key novel immunotherapies that seek to activate the immune system of cancer patients to treat and eradicate tumours – the CF33 oncolytic virus program and HER-Vaxx cancer immunotherapy program – at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2021 annual meeting in April.

VRX Silica Ltd (ASX:VRX) will begin a 130-hole aircore grade control drilling program later this month aimed at upgrading the 11.3 million tonnes resource at Arrowsmith North Silica Sand Project around 270 kilometres north of Perth in Western Australia.

Nanoveu higher as it gains further international momentum for antiviral protection technologies

Nanoveu Ltd’s (ASX:NVU) suite of NanoshieldTM antiviral protection technologies continue to develop international momentum with further in-bound enquiries leading to a growing list of international distribution partners.

Marvel Gold Ltd (ASX:MVL) (FRA:GR2) has completed and commissioned the first community initiative in Mali since beginning exploration at Tabakorole with the installation of a solar-powered water pump and elevated water tank storage for the village of Tabakorole.

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