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FTSE 100 in tedious nil-nil draw; all eyes on Manchester United shares in New York later today

  • FTSE 100 unchanged
  • Houses selling in record time in April
  • Manchester United shares softer in pre-market trading in New York

London’s leading shares remain mixed; meanwhile, it is all kicking off in the football world.

The FTSE 100 was unchanged at 7,020.

In the football world, Tottenham Hotspur football club has sacked its manager, Jose Mourinho, after he reportedly failed to hold a training session in protest at the club’s decision to join a proposed breakaway European Super League.

Across the pond, eyes will be on the Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) share price when trading starts this afternoon. The stock was down 0.8% at US$16.17 on Friday but is trading at US$$17.96 in screen-based trading, up 11%. 

According to reports, Manchester United has stood down from the European Club Association and the club’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, has quit his roles at UEFA, the European football association.

There are other things going on this morning apart from football, such as the release of the house price index (HPI) from Rightmove.

The average asking price for UK houses on sale rose by 2.1% this month to £327,797.

During the first two weeks of April houses sold had been on the market just 45 days on average, as sellers raced to take advantage of the government’s stamp duty holiday. According to Rightmove, houses are selling more quickly than they ever have during the property listings website operator’s existence.

“The Rightmove HPI also shows that while many new properties were put on the market this month, there was still not enough to meet buyer demand. In fact, the average number of days it takes to sell reached its lowest ever level making it a great time for anyone looking to sell their house fast – and signals some issues for buyers who may struggle to find suitable property,” said Ross Counsell at GoodMove, the property buying company.

“Given the extension of the Stamp Duty Holiday until the end of June, this surge is not necessarily that surprising, but does propose the question of what will happen after June.

“Looking ahead, we predict the property market will continue to thrive in the first half of 2021; however, following the end of the Stamp Duty Holiday the state of the property market remains uncertain. Therefore, we expect that house prices and demand will ease in the last 6 months of 2021 resulting in a slower housing market,” Counsell said.

9.50am: Modest progress despite oil titans weighing things down

Despite the oil giants weighing it down, the FTSE 100 is in positive territory.

London’s index of leading shares was up 15 points (0.2%), with grocery delivery technology company Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO), up 3.4% at 2,254p, leading the leisurely advance.

Also going well is London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LON:LSEG), which is up 2.2% at 7,872p, clawing back 172p of recent heavy losses as it prepares for investor opposition to the new remuneration package of its chief executive officer.

Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey PLC (LON:JMAT) is 1.4% better at 3,230p after it announced a strategic partnership for sustainable battery materials production.

Meanwhile, BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) were off 0.6% and 0.8% respectively, reflecting a softening of the oil price.

“Global stock markets remain supported by a combination of the very strong cyclical impulse as vaccinations and better economic resilience to lockdowns spur activity, ongoing monetary policy support and some pretty large fiscal stimulus in some parts of the world, most notably the US,” said Neil Wilson at markets.com.

“As highlighted by Moody’s, the US$5.4tn in excess savings, which is worth around 6% of global GDP, is not to be ignored as consumers come back to the fray. US bank earnings and the release of bad loan loss provisions show the extent to which aggressive policy action has stopped a lot of potential damage to the economy. A retreat in US yields has helped calm nerves but value stocks remain the play as the global economy reopens. Discretionary spend is the name of the game,” he added.

Talking of games, and a funny old one at that (according to Jimmy Greaves), Wilson notes that shares in Juventus rose 7% after it was one of the ‘dirty dozen’ football clubs to announce plans for a breakaway European Super League.

Given how few football clubs are quoted, the development has generated a surprising amount of commentary among the financial community; it’s almost as if the stock markets is an inherently geezerish place.

“IT’s RED!” A straight red card for Global Neoliberalism United, that is. 12 of Europe’s top football (‘soccer’) clubs are planning to break away from their already-lucrative elite domestic leagues, and their even-more lucrative Champions League, in order to form a breakaway closed-loop European Super League with no relegation and no cup competitions,” said RaboResearch, not so much sitting on the fence as digging the fence up and hurling it onto the pitch in disgust/

“In short, the richest (if not most successful) clubs, and the world’s most famous players, are potentially about to walk away from the entire global system of football –including the quadrennial World Cup– to keep all of the global money in the game rather than sharing just a little of it with others: this is of course backed by Wall Street and private equity to the tune of USD8bn,” RaboResearch said.

“Even the US football system sees the least successful team get first pick of the draft new players; by contrast, global football has long seen increasing returns to the biggest clubs and their subsequent de-anchoring from their own domestic and now pan-European leagues. Amazingly, this puts UEFA –an institution with the transparency and public affection of a Bond Villain– in the position of the good guys trying to hold the game’s gossamer-thin ties to its grassroots. This is, sadly, perhaps what the market wants though: endless ‘Clash of the Titans’ games with no consequences. No true fans needed, just click-bait viewers.”

8.35am: More interest in the football than the Footsie

A little like Harry Maguire bombing with the ball towards the opposition’s 18-yard box, the FTSE 100 found itself in nose-bleed territory.

The instinct among London’s trading fraternity was to stop and look for support – much as the Man U defender might.

The portents look reasonably positive. Asia’s main markets made a buoyant start to the week, while US stock futures were pointing upwards.

So, the blue-chip index may get off the launchpad later in the day.

Progress in the year to date, meanwhile, has been reasonably serene with the Footsie up almost 9% thus far.

“The UK is receiving renewed investor attention, as a successful vaccine rollout and resilient economic readings combine with improved sentiment following the next stage of the gradual release from lockdown,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“Long since an investment pariah in global terms, the beaten-down indices have seen the benefit of buying interest based on a valuation gap compared to many global markets, while the cyclical nature of the UK indices is also expected to feel the force of a pronounced economic recovery.”

A buoyant copper price appears to be keeping Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) afloat ahead of its trading update later this week. The stock opened 1.3% higher.

Melrose (LON:MRO), the owner of aerospace group GKN, topped the risers with a 1.7% advance after it said it planned to offload Nortek Air Management for around US$3.6bn.

6.50 am: Slow start predicted 

The FTSE 100 looks set to make a subdued start to proceedings, ignoring the buoyant open to the week on Asia’s main markets.

Having closed above 7,000 for the first time since February last year, it seems likely that London’s traders will take stock rather than push on from here.

By contrast, China’s two major markets set the pace in the region as economic recovery hopes continued to drive sentiment.

US futures were also well bid, while treasury yields slipped further.

It was a roller-coaster day for holders of bitcoin as the cryptocurrency fell as low as US$53,511 before recovering to US$56,000. That said, it is well down from its recent high of around US$65,000.

The battle for battery metals moved into a new phase as Aussie groups Orocobre and Galaxy Resources agreed a $4bn merger – a deal that would catapult them into fifth place in the lithium chemical space.

Back here at home, we have updates this week from miners BHP (LON:BHP), Rio Tinto (LON:RIO), Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) and Hochschild (LON:HOC).

Away from the diggers, there are half-year results from Primark owner Associated British Foods (LON:ABF) and a trading statement from Moneysupermarket.com (LON:MONY).

Around the markets

  • Pound worth US$1.3850 (+0.13%)
  • Bitcoin US$56,807.34 (+1.86%)
  • Gold US$1,778.70 (flat)
  • Brent crude US$66.52 (-0.37%)

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Monday as Reuters reported over the weekend that financial technology giant Ant is exploring options for Jack Ma to divest his stake in the firm and “give up control”.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 0.62% while the Shanghai Composite in China surged 1.18%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.06% and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.02%.

Shares in Australia gained, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.10% higher.

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Proactive Australia news:

Rumble Resources Ltd (ASX:RTR) has hit a new record after fast-tracked assay results from two reverse circulation (RC) holes at Chinook Prospect of the Earaheedy JV Project in Western Australia confirmed a zinc-lead discovery.

Elementos Limited (ASX:ELT) (OTCMKTS:ELTLF) (FRA:9EM) has received firm commitments from institutional, sophisticated and accredited investors to raise A$6.1 million through a placement to progress the development of its wholly-owned Oropesa Tin Project in Spain.

Creso Pharma Ltd’s (ASX:CPH) (FRA:1X8) target acquisition Halucencex Life Sciences Inc has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with leading nanotechnology company Sixth Wave Innovations Inc (CNSX:SIXW) (OTCMKTS:ATURF) to assess Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs).

Chalice Mining Ltd (ASX:CHN) (OTCQB:CGMLF) has strengthened its position at Gonneville Intrusion within the Julimar Nickel-Copper-PGE Project near Perth in Western Australia by entering binding agreements to acquire four additional key private properties.

K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) has completed a strongly supported share placement and received irrevocable commitments to raise A$7.25 million at an issue price of A$0.29 per share.

Australian Potash Ltd (ASX:APC) has received green-loan verification for the debt issued to partly fund development at its flagship Lake Wells Sulphate of Potash Project (LSOP) in Western Australia.

Carnavale Resources Ltd (ASX:CAV) (FRA:YBB) has extended the McTavish East and McTavish North gold anomalies in the second round of air-core drilling at the Kookynie Gold Project in Western Australia.

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