Breaking Stories

  • FTSE 100 closes up 0.02%
  • US stocks mixed
  • Vodafone under pressure

5.30pm: FTSE closed ahead – just

FTSE 100 closed just a shade ahead on Tuesday and it was a mixed bag across global markets.

The UK’s index of leading shares closed up 1.39 points, or 0.02%, at 7,034.

The more UK-company focused FTSE 250 fared better, adding 118 points, or 0.53%, to 22,332.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones shed around 84 points at 34,243. The S&P 500 lost around four at 4,159. But the tech-heavy Nasdaq added over 63 points at 13,442.

“The Nasdaq has been the days outperformer, with the likes of Amazon helping to drive that resurgence. Despite this week marking the last embers of US earnings season, todays earnings data from Walmart and Home Depot did provide a welcome update on consumer activity in the first quarter,” noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trading group IG.

“The huge jump in sales across both Home Depot and Walmart provides a timely reminder that despite the pandemic, we have seen major increases in spending across a while range of products and services.”

4.08pm: Mixed fortunes heading into the close

Heading into the close, leading shares have a listless air about them.

The FTSE 100 has managed to edge 10.37 points or 0.15% higher to 7043.22.

British Airways’ owner International Consolidated Airlines PLC (LON:IAG) retains its top spot in the leading index, up 3.82% at 196.92p, on hopes that travel will now really start to take off as lockdown eases. An upbeat message from Lufthansa has also helped the sector.

Retailer JD Sports Fashion PLC (LON:JD.) has jumped 2.73% to 919.8p while DIY specialist Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF) has built up a 2.36% rise to 377.3p.

But disappointing results from Vodafone PLC (LON:VOD) have left the mobile phone group as the day’s biggest FTSE 100 faller, down 8.05% or 11.4p at 130.3p.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been another fairly subdued day of trading for markets in Europe, as an initially strong start and a new record high for [Germany’s] DAX soon gave way to some intraday profit taking, and a mixed finish to the day.

“The FTSE100 briefly managed to push above the 7,100 level before retreating, with telecoms acting as the biggest drag, as Vodafone shares took a bit of a pummelling after falling a little short on expectations… 

“Having taken a bit of a beating [on Monday], travel and leisure stocks have rebounded today with British Airways owner IAG shares outperforming, along with other airline shares after Germany’s national carrier, Lufthansa said it had seen a surge in demand for transatlantic flights.”

Meanwhile the pound has been supported by the positive UK unemployment figures, up0.45% to US$1.4211 against a dollar also weakened by a fall in expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise US interest rates in the near future.

3.23pm: IAG outperforms uncertain market

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 now dipping into the red, leading UK shares have lost most of their gains.

The FTSE 100 is now up just 4.58 points or 0.065% at 7037.43.

But the prospect of increased travel as lockdown eases – if all goes according to plan at least – has given a lift to International Consolidated Airlines PLC (LON:IAG). 

The British Airways owner is up 2.9% at 195.18p, making it the top riser in the leading index.

2.45pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Fury Gold Mines Ltd (TSE:FURY) (NYSEAMERICAN:FURY) (FRA:AUN)encouraged by drilling at Snake Lake at Eau Claire project, Quebec

Vox Royalty Corp (CVE:VOX) (OTCMKTS:VOXCF) to monetize non-core graphite royalties for C$2.9M and partner with Electric Royalties

Xigem Technologies Corporation (CSE:XIGM) (FRA:2C1) says it’s well placed to benefit from big shift to home working

Sassy Resources Corporation (CSE:SASY) (OTCQB:SSYRF) (FRA:4E7) closes on nearly $2.3M in financing, including investment by Eric Sprott, for its Gander Gold subsidiary Group Inc (OTCQB:RCRT) 1Q revenue climbs 39% to $3.2M as Recruiters on Demand activity ramps up

Willow Biosciences Inc (TSE:WLLW) (OTCQX:CANSF) (FRA:3D7) added to NYSE-listed Cannabis ETF

Arcadia Biosciencesc (NASDAQ:RKDA) (FRA:17DN)  reports triple-digit, year-over-year increase in 1Q revenue of 2021

Esports Entertainment Group Inc (NASDAQ:GMBL) (FRA:40Y1) rides on recent acquisitions and existing brand growth to $5.4M in fiscal 3Q revenue

Loop Insights Inc (CVE:MTRX) (OTCQB:RACMF) enters consumer packaged goods market through integration with The Coupon Bureau

Gungnir Resources Inc (CVE:GUG) (OTCPINK:ASWRF) (FRA:AMO1) poised to begin 2,500 metres of drilling at its Swedish projects

American Manganese Inc (CVE:AMY) (OTCQB:AMYZF) (FRA:2AM) strengthens portfolio with South Korean patent for its technology

2.40pm: Wall Street mostly higher

Wall Street’s main indices got off to a mostly higher start on Tuesday following positive earnings from a number of major retailers and less than stellar US housing data.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.09% at 34,359 while the S&P 500 was flat at 4,163 and the Nasdaq rose 0.09% to 13,391.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was holding steady into late afternoon, up 17 points at 7,049 at around 2.40pm.

2.10pm: Postal group in line for FTSE promotion

Royal Mail is on the rise on hopes it will rejoin the FTSE 100 at the next reshuffle in June.

It is up 6.6p or 1.27% at 525.8p ahead of results on Thursday and a hoped-for promotion to the leading index.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Royal Mail has been delivering a succession of bumper sales figures as it continues to capitalise on the e-commerce boom. It’s expected to post annual results on Thursday 20th May, showing a doubling of profits to £700 million.

“The pandemic boost is likely to keep it in pole position to accelerate into the FTSE fast lane. Momentum revved up as the group increased its capacity for parcel deliveries and the renaissance in letter writing was an added bonus after declines last year giving the red post box the chance of a much longer life.

“But the group’s UK operations still creaks under high demand and significantly more capital expenditure will be needed after years of underfunding. Agreements with its unions have helped ease some long running tensions but it’s the expansion of the company’s international business which is set to be the shining light. Royal Mail is targeting 12% annual revenue growth over the next five years for GLS with only modest capital expenditure, a blueprint its domestic business can as yet only dream of emulating.”

Elsewhere the shine has come off shares after disappointing US housing figures.

Housing starts dropped by 9.5% in April, with surging lumber prices suggested as one reason for the decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now expected to open up just 0.06% or 16 points while the S&P 500 is forecast to rise 0.09% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.46%.

In the UK the FTSE 100 is barely ahead, up 17.4 points or 0.25% at 7050.25.

12.30pm: Retailers boost US markets

US markets are expected to see a positive opening following forecast beating results from two major retailers.

The three major indices slipped back on Monday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to open 0.26% higher at 34,405 while the S&P 500 is set to climb 0.31%. With a recovery in tech stocks forecast, the Nasdaq Composite is heading for an opening 0.7% gain.

Meanwhile Walmart reported first quarter earnings per share of US$1.69, up from US$1.18 a year ago and expectations of a figure of US$1.2. Sales grew 6% with ecommerce sales up 37%.

Chief executive Doug McMillon said: “Every segment performed well, and we’re encouraged by traffic and grocery market trends. Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year…We anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.”

Home improvements group Home Depot was also upbeat. Earnings per share came in at US$3.86 for the first quarter compared to US$2.08 a year ago and forecasts of US$3.04. Revenues rose by 32.7% compared to an expected 22% increase.

Back in the UK the FTSE 100 appears to have found its level, up 23.82 points or 0.34% at 7056.67.

11.34am: Tobacco group reports rising profits

Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) has pleased investors with its latest half year figures after a period of disappointment.

Revenues at the John Player and Gauloises group rose 6.1% while underlying profits climbed by 8.6% to £1.58bn.

Price rises of 6.5% in its cigarette business helped offset volume declines of 3.3%. It edged up its interim dividend by 1%.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “An increase in the dividend, a decrease in debt and no change to profits expectations for the year would read well at most firms, especially in the current environment and particularly at Imperial Brands, after its torrid run of profit earnings disappointment, dividend cuts and management changes.

“Comments from chief executive Stefan Bomhard about stabilising market share in tobacco in key markets, lower losses from Next Generation Products thanks to more controlled investment and firm pricing will also offer encouragement.”

The company will also have a 10.87% in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies Holdings PLC which plans to join the main market on Friday with a market capitalisation of around £48mln.

Imperial’s shares have added 1.7% or 27p to 1617p.

Overall the FTSE 100 remains fairly steady, up 29.72 points or 0.42% at 7062.57.

10.10am: Leading shares edge higher but uncertainty remains

The FTSE 100 remains in positive territory but has come off its best levels.

Having reached 7102, it is now up just 21.11 points or 0.3% at 7053.96.

Investors are clinging to the hope that the vaccine rollout will counter worries about the Indian COVID-19 variant and that lockdown easing will remain on track.

But new comments from environment secretary George Eustice show we are nowhere near out of the woods yet.

He said local lockdowns might be needed if the situation deteriorates, and this looks like it has taken away some of the market’s enthusiasm.

Among the mid-caps Micro Focus International plc (LON:MCRO) is up 6.45% at 501.6p after the software group said in a trading statement that it was likely to report six month revenues ahead of expectations at $1.4bn.

Drinks group Britvic PLC (LON:BVIC) is also on the rise, up 3.32% at 949.5p. The company reported a 15.4% fall in half year earnings but gave a positive outlook.

It said trading had been encouraging in the first weeks of the second half, adding: “Going forward we anticipate positive mix impact as At-Home growth moderates, socialising increases and on-the-go consumption regains momentum.”

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell said: “If there is one underappreciated beneficiary of lockdown restrictions being eased, it’s Britvic. A lot of attention has been made to pubs and restaurants being able to let people back indoors and what that might do for beer and wine sales. However, the good old soft drink will naturally get a look in from the reopening boom as well.

“Britvic owns a lot of popular brands which has helped the business stay fairly resilient during the pandemic as families have flocked to stock shelves at home with names such as Robinsons squash.”

9.16am: Company results prove a drag

It may be a brighter start for leading shares but a couple of companies reporting results are missing out on the rally.

Vodafone Group PLC (LON:VOD) has dropped sharply, down 6.87% or 9.74p to 131.96p after it missed expectations for full year earnings.

It reported earnings of €14.4bn compared to forecasts of €14.54bn as revenues from roaming and handset sales were hit by a slowdown caused by the pandemic.

But it expected this to improve in the current year to €15bn to €15.4bn and it has cut net debt to €40.5bn from €42bn, partly helped proceeds of €2bn from the flotation of its infrastructure business Vantage Towers,

Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, commented “These are not results to shoot the lights out, but there are signs of measured progress within an extremely competitive sector…

“There is certainly much to do for Vodafone, particularly in a notoriously competitive sector which can often simply come down to price in the mind of the consumer. The pandemic has had its own effect on revenues also, with an inevitable decline in visitor and roaming revenues, while handset sales have also suffered.”

Land Securities PLC (LON:LAND) is also on the way down, falling 0.62% or 4.4p to 710.6p. 

The property group reported an annual loss of £1.39bn, up from a loss of £837mln the previous year, with its office portfolio suffering from the growth of working at home during the pandemic. It is planning to sell its retail parks, another struggling sector.

UBS analysts said the results were broadly as expected and added “Despite a 43% rally over the past 12 months, the stock still stands at a 27% discount and offers some value.”

Overall  the FTSE 100 is holding on to much of its early gains, up 31.78 points or 0.45% at 7064.63.

8.27am: Commodity companies among early risers

With metal prices continuing to gain ground amid talk of supply shortages and growing demand, mining companies are among the big gainers so far.

BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP) is up 3.14% or 70.5p to 2316.5p while Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL) has added 2.71% or 89.5p to 3387p and Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) is 2.28% or 7.4p better at 332.55p.

8.18am: Signs of improvement in jobs market

The UK unemployment rate improved in the first quarter of the year as the economy continued to show signs of recovering from the worst of the pandemic.

It fell to 4.8% in January-March compared to 4.9% the previous quarter, while the employment rate increased for the first time since before the virus hit, edging up 0.2 percentage points to 75.2%.

There was also an increase in the number of people on company payrolls in April, up 97,000 compared with March.

But there is still a way to go.

Institute for Employment Studies director Tony Wilson said: “Today’s figures confirm that the labour market is turning the corner – with a sharp rise in employee jobs in April as the economy reopened, vacancies rising and unemployment now clearly trending down.

“However you don’t have to look too far to see the lasting damage caused by a year of lockdowns and disruption.  Long-term unemployment rose by more than a quarter in the last year, its fastest rate of growth since the 2010 crisis.  Older people in particular are now starting to see sharp rises, with long-term unemployment reaching its highest in five years.  With many firms reporting difficulties in filling jobs as the economy reopens, government and employers will need to do more to bring the long-term unemployed back into work and help avoid this crisis leading to lasting scars.”

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at the global job site Indeed, said: “The number of people on employer payrolls has clawed its way to 190,000 above the nadir it endured during the first lockdown last year. Despite this progress, it’s still a shadow of its pre-pandemic self – and it remains 772,000 down on the pre-Covid number.

“At the same time the headline rate of unemployment has fallen, and while this progress is impressive, it’s not just a case of all those unemployed people suddenly moving into paid work. The reality is many of those formerly unemployed people stopped looking for work during the third lockdown, meaning they disappeared from the official jobseeker total.

“Nevertheless an unemployment rate of 4.8% is a step in the right direction, and there is a growing sense of momentum in the labour market.”

Still, the FTSE 100 has welcomed the news, adding 48.5 points or 0.69% in early trading.

Proactive news headlines

BATM Advanced Communications Limited (LON:BVC) said it has begun delivering two new diagnostic tests for COVID-19.

Aquis Stock Exchange (AQSE), the primary and secondary trading business of exchange service group Aquis Exchange PLC, has been granted equivalence status by the Frankfurt Stock Exchange’s Open Market. This means companies with a quotation on AQSE can seek a dual quotation on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and vice versa.

Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) is to establish a subsidiary in the Sultanate of Oman that will become its Middle Eastern regional headquarters.

Apollon Formularies PLC (LON:APOL) said a combined formulation of its medical cannabis treatment and medicinal mushrooms developed by Canadian firm Aion Therapeutic Inc have been effective at killing HER2+ breast cancer cells, the cause of around 20% of all breast cancers.

Union Jack Oil PLC’s (LON:UJO) 40%-owned Wressle oil field development project has been given the greenlight for a ‘proppant squeeze’ operation, which is expected to yield higher production volumes.

Sirius Real Estate Limited (LON:SRE) flagged that Fitch Ratings has published its first credit rating for the company, resulting in a BBB rating with a stable outlook. 

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) said drilling results from the Banu area of the Kiziltepe mine in Turkey confirmed the presence of higher-grade mineralisation at the south-eastern end of the vein system.

Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC (LON:CGNR) has begun its 2021 drilling programme at Clontibret in County Monaghan, Ireland. The first drill holes of the programme will form part of the ongoing work programme, planning and due diligence for the company’s proposed joint venture partnership with Demir Export A.S. 

Minds + Machines Group Limited (LON:MMX) has reported steady profits for its 2020 financial year as the company highlighted changes in its fourth quarter that it believes have sustainably improved the business.

Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX, OTCQX:SHIEF) noted a recent publication in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases of the positive long-term effectiveness of ferric maltol compared to intravenous iron in treating patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The pharmaceutical company’s focus is on addressing iron deficiency with its main product Feraccru/Accrufer (ferric maltol). 

SIMEC Atlantis Energy Ltd (LON:SAE) has updated investors on correspondence it has received in relation to the purported appointment of receivers over all of the shares of its major shareholder, SIMEC UK Energy Holdings Limited (SUEH), a GFG Alliance member that, SAE understands, owns approximately 43% of the firm’s share capital.

Galantas Gold Corporation (CVE:GAL)(LON:GAL) has completed its previously announced placement of shares at C$0.30 per unit, and therefore raised just shy of C$8mln. In connection with closing, the chief executive’s role will be taken by Mario Stifano, an experienced mining executive who has raised significant capital for a number of mining and resource companies in exploration, development and production.

Sureserve Group Plc (LON:SUR) said it is well-positioned for further organic growth in a fragmented and regional market and expects continued strong trading throughout the year.

Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK), the aquaculture biotechnology company, saw growth in revenues and earnings in the six months to the end of March, driven by a strong performance by its Advanced Nutrition business.

Love Hemp Group PLC (LON:LIFE) (OTCQB:WRHLF) said it has appointed Stephen White as chief marketing officer and Steve Horan as head of marketing as part of its strategy to become a globally recognised brand.

NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) said its portfolio firm, PDS Biotechnology Corp (NASDAQ:PDSB), it which it owns a 5.75% stake, has received US$4.5mln from the net sale of tax benefits to an unrelated, profitable New Jersey corporation pursuant to the company’s participation in the New Jersey Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Net Operating Loss (NOL) program for 2020.

Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) said Tru-Tension, a company that designs and manufactures products for biking enthusiasts, has launched a new detailing spray paint that uses Applied Graphene’s graphene nanoplatelet technology.

Scirocco Energy PLC (LON:SCIR) has generated some £1.6mln of proceeds from the sale of shares in Helium One. Scirocco, in a statement, said it had sold an additional 7.45mln Helium One shares to reduce its holding in the Helium One to 9.95mln shares or 1.59% of the company.

TomCo Energy PLC’s (LON:TOM) part-owned operation in Ohio has been suspended following the receipt of a cessation order from the state authorities.

Personal Group Holdings PLC (LON:PGH) has appointed Liam McGrath, the former chief operating officer (COO) of Equniti, as the COO of the company.

Accesso Technology Group PLC (LON:ACSO) said it expects to ‘comfortably’ exceed its revenue guidance for the full year 2021, although it warned that rising costs would lessen the impact on its profit.

i3 Energy PLC (LON:I3E)(TSX:ITE) has posted a shareholder circular detailing a proposed reduction of capital, which will require approval at a shareholder meeting that has been convened for 3 June.

Coro Energy PLC (LON:CORO) will host a shareholder question and answer session on Thursday 27 May 2021 at 10am, ahead of its annual general meeting on Tuesday 15 June 2021, with registration on the company website 

Coinsilium Group Limited (AQSE:COIN)(OTCQB:CINGF) will deliver a live presentation as part of the Crypto & Digital Currency Virtual Investor Conference on Thursday, 20 May 2021.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) will hold an in-person strategy day for current and potential shareholders, and analysts at 1.15 BST on 8 July in London. Management presentations will cover the strategy for growth and will include commentary from a selection of customers and partners, as well as the opportunity to experience and learn more about Bango products.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) notified that its annual general meeting will be held at 2pm BST on Monday 14 June in London.

Caerus Mineral Resources PLC (LON:CMRS) said its AGM will be held remotely at 9am on 22 June 2021. 

6.42am: Leading shares set to show strong start

The FTSE 100 has been tipped to make a sprightly start on Tuesday after markets got off to a lacklustre start to the week.  

London’s blue chip index will rise around 53-60 points, according to the spread-betting platforms, a day after closing down 11 points at 7,033.

Wall Street had a day in red, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the decline, down 0.4%, but all three major indices finishing off their lows, with the Dow Jones losing 0.2% and the S&P 500 falling 0.25%.

Asia is setting the fashion for green on Tuesday with strong rises almost across the board.

In the UK, a big focus is going to be on the latest UK unemployment numbers.

Last time out we saw February’s ILO unemployment improved to 4.9%, having been up at 5.1% in December, while March’s monthly jobless claims numbers fell to 7.3%.

“While the outlook for unemployment appears more positive as we head into the summer months, that doesn’t mean it can’t go higher, as we head towards the end of the year and the furlough program starts to get withdrawn,” said analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

“Even in a best case scenario a lot of jobs that were around over a year ago, may still not come back, though a lot of them may well be replaced by different ones.”

The Bank of England, as Hewson noted, is forecasting unemployment to increase later this year to 5.2% before falling to 4.7% in the second quarter of 2022.

“There is still a lot that can still go wrong,” Hewson adds, “with the government being uncharacteristically cautious, about the lifting of all restrictions just over a month from now. With the Indian variant threatening to increase, the June deadline could still slip.”

In company news, Cranswick (LON:CWK), Imperial Brands (LON:IMB), Land Securities (LON:LAND) and Vodafone (LON:VOD) are likely to be among the main points of interest with results out shortly.  

Around the markets

  • Pound – up 0.2% to US$1.4172
  • Oil – up 0.4% to US$69.72
  • Gold – flat at US$1,869.77
  • Bitcoin – up 6.3% (over 24 hrs) to US$45,456.4

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on Tuesday even as Japan’s economy shrank at an annualised rate of 5.1% in the January to March period, as per government data.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 1.27% while the Shanghai Composite in China rose 0.15%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 surged 2.35% and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.31%.

Shares in Australia lifted, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.74% higher.

Proactive Australia news:

Silver Mines Ltd (ASX:SVL) (OTCMKTS:SLVMF) has substantially expanded drilling activity at its Bowdens Silver Project in New South Wales off the back of a recent successful drilling program which identified new silver feeder veins.

Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX:CPH) (FRA:1X8) has finalised the development of anibidiol® swine, a new and innovative hemp flour and oat bran based complementary feed product to support stress reduction and wellbeing of pigs reared indoors and outdoors.

Brookside Energy Ltd (ASX:BRK) (OTCMKTS:RDFEF) (FRA:8F3) is progressing drilling of the high-impact Jewell 13-12-1S-3W SXH1 well in the SWISH Area of Interest (AOI) in the world-class Anadarko Basin.

AVZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:AVZ) (OTCMKTS:AZZVF) (FRA:3A2) has revealed its initial exploration target at the Manono Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, defining the potential for alluvial hosted tin resources based on an independent review of historical exploration records produced by Zaïretain – the previous operators of the project.

Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX:NTU) (OTCMKTS:NOURF) (FRA:NUN) plans to restart the second phase drilling campaign at Browns Range in the first week of June, following the end of wet season.

Imugene Ltd (ASX:IMU) (OTCMKTS:IUGNF) and City of Hope®, a world-renowned independent cancer research and treatment centre near Los Angeles, have entered into a licensing agreement for the patents covering a novel combination immunotherapy.

Antipa Minerals Ltd (ASX:AZY) has completed a strongly supported and oversubscribed share purchase plan raising A$3 million and resulting in the company receiving applications totalling A$5 million at the issue price of A$0.042 per share.

CardieX Ltd (ASX:CDX) is on track for profitability with current initiatives such as an expanded sales and marketing focus, new partnerships, product hires and executive hires contributing to sales growth and a 40% increase in forecast revenues for FY2021.

K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) welcomes the decision of Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) to extend the term of its Infoscope Land Management software licence for a further three years for Pilbara operations.

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