- FTSE 100 closed down seven points
- Wall Street mixed at mid-session
- Leisure and hospitality stocks receive some love
5pm: FTSE closes lower
FTSE 100 closed in the red on Tuesday as the positive trader sentiment of yesterday surrounding the UK vaccine roll-out appeared to fade.
The UK’s top share index closed down around seven points, or 0.11%, at 6,748.
Midcap FTSE 250 was also lower, though near flat, as it finished 2.5 points down at 21,416.
Wall Street was closed on Monday for President’s day but US traders were back in the mix today. Stocks were mixed in New York despite stimulus and business/society reopening hopes. The Dow Jones added around 23 points but the S&P 500 shed nearly five.
“Nevertheless, there is a growing feeling that we are on the cusp of a new phase of this market recovery, with cyclical stocks primed to reflect the economic bounce back due in the coming months,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trading group IG.
The analyst added that tech and manufacturing stocks have fared well so far and it seems likely that Covid laggards will be the next ones to rise as traders seek out value “in anticipation of a reopening phase”.
3.35pm: Fresnillo leads a leisurely retreat as gold price wilts
After a bright start, the trading session has fizzled out in London.
Fresnillo shares are down 3.4% at 989.2p, partly reflecting a 1% fall in the price of gold, although the silver price is holding up well.
Among the mid-caps, the generally smooth roll-out of coronavirus vaccines is encouraging some buying interest in travel and hospitality stocks.
Bingo halls and casinos operator Rank Group PLC (LON:RNK), up 5.9% at 139.4p, is the best mid-cap performer, just ahead of package tours operator TUI AG (LON:TUI), up 4.8% at 362.6p. A bit further down the FTSE 250 leaderboard, Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) is 1.8% firmer at 84.2p on the prospect of a return to customers munching overpriced popcorn and slurping costly cola in its cinemas.
3.20pm: Proactive North America headlines:
INDVR Brands Inc (CSE:IDVR) (OTCMKTS:CAAOF) (FRA:3YX) generates record January sales for its Honu brand in Washington state
Nextech AR Solutions Corp (OTCQB:NEXCF) (NEO:NTAR.NE) (CSE:NTAR) (FRA:N29) beefs up sales team with two top-tier executive hires from Fastly and Salesforce.com
XPhyto Therapeutics Corp (CSE:XPHY) (OTCQB:XPHYF) (FRA:4XT) touts completion of European regulatory application process for rapid coronavirus test
2.45pm: Wall Street opens on the front foot
Wall Street has made a positive start to the post-Presidents Day trading week as the main indices began Tuesday’s session in the green.
In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.37% at 31,573 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.31% to 3,946 and the Nasdaq rose 0.42% to 14,155.
Despite the positive start for the wider market, software group Palantir Technologies Inc (NYSE:PLTR) was one the back foot in early deals, sliding 5.8% to US$29.96 after it reported a surprise loss in its quarterly earnings, although revenues did beat expectations.
Meanwhile, pharmacy group CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) managed to top estimates in its own results as it received a sales boost from coronavirus testing, however, the shares struggled to make headway and were down 0.3% at US$74.
Back in London, the FTSE 100 had slipped back into the red in late afternoon and was down 11 points at 6,745 at around 2.45pm.
2.05pm: Bitcoin briefly tops US$50,000 for the first time
While it’s all quiet on the equities front, the price of Bitcoin rose above the US$50,000 level for the first time today before retreating.
The FTSE 100 is still up 9 points (0.1%) at 6,765 – either that or my screen has frozen – with traders keeping their powder dry to see what happens when US markets reopen after yesterday’s holiday.
The price of Bitcoin, meanwhile, is currently around US$49,165, up US$956, having topped US$50,000 earlier.
If it’s a real hot investment you want, however, then natural gas is the commodity to be in as the US suffers what Scandinavians would probably call “a cold snap”.
Natural gas for March delivery was up 2.0% on futures markts, having risen more than 6% at one point. Heating oil for March delivery is up 3.8%.
1.30pm: Mining companies keep the Footsie in a positive mood
The FTSE 100 is in a holding pattern, holding on to a small gain thanks largely to the strength of commodities plays.
“Glencore shares are up on the session as the company reinstated its dividend. The mining giant halted its pay-out in August 2020 following the first half loss it incurred. Today’s news that it will pay 12 cents to shareholders is a sign the group has turned a corner with respect to the health crisis. It sends out an optimistic signal to the markets, in addition to that, the cash payment won’t hurt either,” said CMC’s David Madden.
12.35pm: US indices to open higher
Having missed out on yesterday’s bumper day for stock markets, US indices have some catching up to do today.
Having closed on Friday at 31,458, the Dow Jones is expected to open around 200 points higher today.
The S&P 500 is tipped to rise 23 points to 3,957 and the Nasdaq 100 is on course to open 74 points better at 13,882.
“The ‘risk-on’ mood continues as equity indices around the world move further into record territory thanks to optimism on the vaccine rollout and the increasing likelihood that the US will pass President Biden’s full $1.9tn stimulus package,” noted Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss.
There’s not much macroeconomic news in the US today so traders will get the chance to ease back into the old routine while keeping half an eye on the blast of cold weather stateside that has seen electricity prices head higher.
“The data calendar is bare in the United States today, where the big chill will probably knock stimulus-watch off the front pages. Nevertheless, Wall Street should come into the office remotely in full stimulus and vaccine-led recovery mode. Keep buying everything,” was the advice of Oanda’s Jeffrey Halley.
It sounds like the first purchase should be a woolly jumper.
On the coronavirus front, 55,000 cases were reported in the US yesterday, down 29% from Monday last week, although severe weather depressed testing activity.
“The number of tests fell 21% from Monday last week but, encouragingly, the proportion of positive tests fell to 4.9% from 5.4% over the same period,” reported Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“Test positivity usually rises when testing is depressed by events like holidays or severe weather because people seeking precautionary tests are more likely to wait. Taking a longer view, the positivity rate has fallen by more than half since its early January peak, even though the seven-day average number of tests has fallen by 23%.
“The seven-day average number of confirmed cases has now dropped by 65% from the peak, on January 11, and the rate of decline is steady at about 22% per week. A combination of tightened restrictions late last year, immunity from prior infection and a rising vaccination rate–18% of adults have now had at least one shot–is crushing the original Covid variant,” Shepherdson said.
Over here in Blighty, the UK has now given at least one shot to 22.5% of the population, or 29% of adults.
“New cases are falling by nearly 30% per week, and the seven-day moving average has fallen by 79% from the peak. Hospitalisations and deaths are dropping fast too. A phased re-opening of schools will begin March 8,” Shepherdson noted.
After a brief lapse into negative territory, the FTSE 100 is back on the rise, up 15 points (0.2%) at 6,771.
11.30am: Slight dip into the red
The FTSE 100 has now dipped into the red ahead of the resumption of trading in the US this afternoon.
London’s index of heavyweight shares was down a couple of points (0.0%) at 6,754.
UK-focused stocks – retailers and housebuilders, mostly – have run into a bit of profit-taking.
10.20am: Pound’s strength slows the Footsie’s advance
The progress of the FTSE 100 has been more sedate today, with sentiment cooled a little by sterling’s continued resurgence.
The blue-chips index was up 21 points (0.3%) at 6,776.
The pound is up by around one-fifth of a cent against the US dollar at US$1.3922, with buying interest spurred by the UK’s vaccine roll-out programme; on the other side of the coin, the dollar is getting the bargepole treatment because of misgivings about the effects president Biden’s stimulus plans will have on sentiment towards the greenback.
Ipek Ozkardeskaya at Swissquote, however, has sounded a note of caution.
“The rally in stock markets continue with bubble warnings popping up everywhere for all-size and all-industry stocks. The disconnect between price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios have not gone so big since the dot.com crisis and the actual bull run could actually end in tears,” the analyst suggested.
Among the mid-caps, outsourcing firm Serco PLC (LON:SRP) is 7.1% higher at 128.2p after it agreed to acquire Whitney, Bradley & Brown, a leading provider of advisory, engineering and technical services to the US military, for US$295mln.
Safestore Holdings PLC’s (LON:SAFE) first-quarter trading update found favour, with the shares rising 2.8% at 802.5p after it posted a 9.8% year-on-year increase (on a constant currency basis) in revenue.
9.20am: Momentum continues
Asia-focused banks and oil stocks are largely ensuring the FTSE 100 keeps its positive momentum after yesterday’s stellar performance.
Fellow Asia-focused lender Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN), up 1.8% at 489.9p, was not far behind while Asia-focused insurer Prudential PLC (LON:PRU), up 1.3% at 1,392p, was also on the climb. Both banks are due to report results next week.
Brent crude for April delivery is little changed this morning but that has not stopped punters from buying into BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Shell (LON:RDSB); the former is up 1.3% at 282.55p and the latter 1.0% at 1,394.4p.
Elsewhere in the resource sector, BHP PLC (LON:BHP) was up 0.3% at 2,235p after interim results that were a bit of a curate’s egg.
“Increasing talk of a commodity supercycle benefited BHP, where underlying profit rose by 16% to over $6 billion,” said Richard Hunter at interactive investor.
“The surge in the price of copper and iron ore is playing into the hands of the miners, with a late 2020 surge in iron ore arising from heavy buying from China for steel production ahead of its largely anticipated economic bounce back,” he added.
8.30am: Miners and oilers to the fore
After Monday’s triple-digit gain, the FTSE 100’s open was a little lower key than the close.
Still, optimism over the UK vaccine roll-out and the potential knock-on impact of America’s mooted 1.9 trillion bail-out programme saw buyers wade back into the market.
Even the bromide of sterling, which was trading around and a three year, didn’t really seem to be impeding the progress of the index’s overseas earners.
“With markets closed in the US, China and Hong Kong, investor attention turned elsewhere and the UK was a particular beneficiary, rising by over 2.5% and consolidated with a further gain in early trade today,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.
“Buying interest is also being underpinned by strength in oil and commodity prices, important sector constituents of the FTSE100.
“The oil price, now ahead by 22% in the year to date, saw another strong session as a deep freeze in parts of the US both boosted demand and also potentially threatened supply in the major production area of Texas.”
Proactive news headlines
World High Life PLC (AQSE:LIFE OTCQB:WRHLF) said its subsidiary, Love Hemp Limited, has seen a “strong increase in demand” during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with revenues up nearly 100% on the prior quarter.
Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) has provided details from its annual reserves statement, confirming 117.2mln barrels of proved and probable (2P) reserves across its assets in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.
Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) told investors that gas sales have now begun at the West Rustavi field, in the Republic of Georgia, following the connection of Bago LLC’s pipeline to the main Georgian Oil & Gas Corporation pipeline.
World High Life PLC (LON:LIFE) (OTCQB:WRHLF) said its subsidiary, Love Hemp Limited, has seen a “strong increase in demand” during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with revenues up nearly 100% on the prior quarter. In a trading update for the period from October 1 to December 31, 2020, the cannabidiol (CBD) specialist reported that Love Hemp has accrued GBP1.56mln in revenues for the quarter, a 97% rise on the GBP793,500 figure from the first, while gross sales came in at GBP764,000.
Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC), the nickel copper exploration and development company focused on the Kun-Manie project in the Far East of Russia, has reported that the terms and conditions for its Kun-Manie ‘Detailed Exploration and Mine Production Licence’ have been amended and registered with Rosnedra, the State Licencing Agency.
Condor Gold PLC (LON:CNR)(TSE:COG) has raised GBP4mln via a placing of just over 9.5mln new shares at 42p each. The money raised will be used to advance the La India gold project in Nicaragua further towards production.
Pan African Resources Ltd (LON:PAF)(JSE:PAN) boosted gold production by 5.9% to 98,386 ounces in the six months to December 2020. It leaves the company on track to deliver on its full year production guidance of approximately 190,000 ounces of gold. Net cash generated by operating activities increased by 178.2% to US$28.1mln, and the company was able to reduce net debt by 47.3%.
Supply@ME Capital PLC said its temporary share suspension has not impacted its commercial progress, adding that the timing of the resumption of trading is out of its hands. It said it had successfully addressed the technical disclosure and transparency (DTR) breach regarding the timing of the publication of its financial statements on January 29. “SYME has since been in regular communication with the FCA in support of the regulatory steps and due process required for the lifting of the temporary suspension,” the company added.
Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) revealed that it has received a conversion notice in relation to its US$1.5mln unsecured convertible loan agreement with Riverfort Global Opportunities PCC Limited and YA II PN Ltd, which was announced on 15 July 2020. The Riverfort and YA funds have elected to convert a total amount of US$169,384.70 (GBP122,245), made up of a principal amount of US$150,000 and accrued interest of almsot $19,385, into 153,379,428 new ordinary shares of 0.03125p each in the company at a price of 0.079701 pence per ordinary share.
City Pub Group PLC (LON:CPC) said that on Monday February 15 it granted Toby Smith, who joined the Company as chief operating officer in November, an award of nominal cost options over 1,000,000 ordinary shares of 1p. The options have been granted under the company’s long-term incentive plan, are exercisable in 2024 following release of the Company’s audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2023, are subject to performance conditions relating to the Company’s EBITDA profitability (pre-IFRS 16) and have a 10 year term. A further option over 25,000 shares was granted under the company’s share option plan, with an exercise price of GBP1.20, will vest after 3 years and have a 10 year term.
Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR ASX:THR) advised that an updated investor presentation is available on the company’s website, available via the following link: www.thormining.com/sites/thormining/media/pdf/interviews/thr-feb21-pres.pdf
Base Resources Limited (ASX:BSE LON:BSE) announced that it will host two investor and shareholder webcasts to discuss its half year results, which are scheduled for release on February 22, 2021. The webcasts will be hosted by managing director Tim Carstens, chief financial officer Kevin Balloch and general manager Stephen Hay, who will also be available to answer questions following a presentation of the company’s results. Full details are available on the company’s website: https://baseresources.com.au/investors/announcements/
Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd (LON:CGH) said it will hold an online investor presentation for retail investors via the Investor Meet Company platform on Monday, 22 February 2021 at 10am. Chaarat’s chief executive Artem Volynets and chief financial officer Chris Eger will provide a live presentation relating to the 2020 operating results, the recently completed financing package and an outlook for 2021. Investors can sign up at https://www.investormeetcompany.com/chaarat-gold-holdings-ltd/register-investor
4d Pharma PLC (LON:DDDD) announced that its chief executive Duncan Peyton will participate in broker Cantor Fitzgerald‘s virtual panel, titled “Microbiome Players with Guided Readouts in 2021,” on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 3pm. A webcast of the panel will be available via the “Events” section of the 4D pharma website at www.4dpharmaplc.com.
e-Therapeutics plc (LON:ETX) notified investors that it will be presenting at the Shares Investor Evening webinar on Wednesday February 17, 2021. The webinar will start at 6pm and investors can register to attend at https://www.sharesmagazine.co.uk/events/event/shares-investor-evening–webinar-170221. Ali Mortazavi, chairman and CEO of e-therapeutics, will be presenting an overview of the company and will be available to take questions during the event.
Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said it has today published the latest edition of its quarterly newsletter summarising key activities and developments within the group and its portfolio companies. Copies of the newsletter are available to download from the group’s website at www.frontierip.co.uk , or by request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
6.55 am: Positivity set to continue
The FTSE 100 is predicted to continue its strong start to the week on Tuesday with mining earnings in the morning and the Wall Street’s return from the long weekend to provide another potential impetus later.
London’s blue chip equity index has been called 25 points higher on the IG spread-betting platform with an hour and a half to go.
This comes on the back of its stonking rise of over 166 points or 2.5% to 6,756.11 a day earlier, even with the US on holiday.
Asian markets are mostly edging higher this morning, with the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo having closed above 30,000 for the first time since 1990 and continuing to make gains as the Bank of Japan said it is not stopping its ongoing quantitative easing programme.
The Footsie’s oil heavyweights could provide an uplift as cold weather sweeping the United States caused rolling power blackouts, a massive spike in electricity spot prices, and further boosted oil prices.
“With US markets closed for President’s Day yesterday, they will have some significant catching up to do after yesterday’s stellar European session, when they return from their long weekend later today,” said market analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
He added: “Having underperformed so much in recent weeks, the potential for a FTSE100 retest of its January peaks and a move towards 7,000 could well increase as long as we see a continuation of the type of progress that we’ve been seeing so far on the vaccine front, and the continued sharp fall in Coronavirus infection rates.”
Around the markets
Pound: up 0.2% to US$1.3935
Oil: up 0.3% to US$63.50
Gold: up 0.25% to US$1,823.35
Bitcoin: up 3% to US$48,973.49
6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia
Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on Tuesday as markets in mainland China remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong surged 1.77%.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.28% while South Korea’s Kospi was 0.52% higher.
Shares in Australia rose, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.70% higher.
Proactive Australia news:
Alkane Resources Limited (ASX:ALK) (OTCMKTS:ALKEF) (FRA:AK7) has updated the mineral resource for San Antonio Deposit at its Tomingley Gold Project (TGP) in Central West New South Wales after an additional 37,000 metres of drilling.
Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) (OTCMKTS:BLSTF) (FRA:B9S) continues to intersect massive sulphide vein (MSV) mineralisation in all drill holes subsequent to the maiden intersections at King Snake target of the Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-PGE Project in Vietnam.
ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) (OTCMKTS:GSCCF) has completed a joint automation study with Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment and the Cat dealer for Nevada, Cashman Equipment Company, targeting the early introduction of Cat(R) Command.
Sipa Resources Limited (ASX:SRI) (FRA:SPO) has executed a sale and purchase agreement with Miramar Resources Ltd (ASX:M2R) to acquire the Garden Gully Project in the Murchison district of Western Australia for $150,000 in cash and shares.