FTSE 100 closes ahead as markets manage to brush off lockdown, virus fears

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  • FTSE 100 closes up 17 pts
  • AstraZeneca shares ahead
  • Mobile Streams slumps after it taps the market

5.10pm: FTSE closes ahead

FTSE 100 closed the first day of the trading week ahead as markets appeared upbeat despite continuing worries over lockdowns and the pandemic.

The UK’s index of leading shares closed up by around 17 points at 6,726, slightly off the earlier high of 6,732 and ahead of the 6,650 low. The mid-cap FTSE 250 gained around 35 points at 21,455.

The pound was a shade lower against the US dollar, easing 0.03% to US$1.360 each.

“For yet another session dip buyers have come in to support the FTSE 100 around 6680,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG in a note.

“UK investors will hope that the index can find more strength as the dollar weakens a touch more, perhaps pushed down more by the steady flow of Fed speakers this week that will once again see policymakers restate, with some weariness, the outlook for policy.

“In addition, global flash PMIs midweek might provide further evidence of a global recovery, one that will help support FTSE miners among others.”

In company news, drugs giant AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) was back in the frame again as a US trial revealed that its COVID-19 vaccine is 79% effective and that it is 100% effective against severe disease or hospitalisation. Its shares pumped up 3.29% amid the news, to stand at 7,344p.

4.20 pm: Dukemount on the up 

Having been up almost 50% earlier in the session, Dukemount Capital PLC (LON:DKE) finished 23% higher. The company styles itself as a property management and long-dated income specialist; however, investor interest was tickled by a potential foray into the power sector. Subject to DD, Dukemount will take a half share in a JV company called HSKB with the aim of developing gas peaking facilities. For those not in the know, ‘peaker plants’ balance fluctuating power requirements and operate during periods of high-level demand. Worth noting was the volume of shares traded, which was around six-times the average.

2.20pm: Desperately seeking direction

London’s leading shares are, as the old adage has it, seeking direction.

The FTSE 100 was up 4 points (0.1%) at 6,713. The mid-cap FTSE 250 was, for once, moving in lockstep with its bigger brother, up 21 points (0.1%) at 21,441.

Outside of the FTSE 350 it has been another banner day for Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) and its flagship asset MED3000, a topical gel for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

The shares, which soared last week after the European Union signalled it would give a green light for the gel to be available without a doctor’s prescription, rocketed 64% to 75.5p today as the company announced regulatory progress in the US.

READ Futura Medical agrees with US FDA on a small confirmatory study of MED3000

The company has agreed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the protocol for a small confirmatory clinical study of MED3000 to make sure its efficacy, which has been proven up to three months, does not tail off after that period.

An operations update from 88 Energy Limited (LON:88E) sent the shares 37% higher to 1.525p.

The company entered into a share subscription deal with ELKO International that has raised US$6.48mln, earmarked for the drilling of the Merlin-1 exploration well in Alaska.

Going the other way was mobile content specialist Mobile Streams PLC (LON:MOS) after it took advantage of share price strength – the company had a big contract win last week – to raise funds.

The shares lost around a third of their value at 0.29p after the company banged out shares at 0.25p a pop to raise £2mln.

2pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Starton Therapeutics Inc says target to start Phase 1 study for STAR-LLD for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia remains on track for 4Q

GlobeX Data Ltd (OTCQB:SWISF)(CSE:SWIS)(FRA:GDT) secures C$1.25M in financing commitments to market Swiss-hosted Sekur secure email

HighGold Mining Inc (CVE:HIGH) (OTCQX:HGGOF) hails regional exploration at Johnson Tract in Alaska, which shows widespread, diverse mineralization over large area

Aurelius Minerals Inc (CVE:AUL) (OTCQB:AURQF) (FRA:1GA) announces stock now trading on OTCQB in New York

Golden Minerals Company (TSE:AUM) (NYSE:AUMN) (FRA:7GB) reveals expansion drilling at its Rodeo Gold Mine in Mexico

Jack Nathan Medical Corp (CVE:JNH) (OTCQB:JNHMF) completes acquisition of flagship medical clinic located within Walmart Supercentre in Vaughan, Ontario

MindMed (MindMed) Inc (NEO:MMED) (OTCQB:MMEDF) (FRA:MMQ) added to two leading FTSE Russell indexes

Idaho Champion Gold Mines Canada Inc (CSE:ITKO) (OTCQB:GLDRF) (FRA:1QB1) extends footprint of gold system at its Baner Gold Project in Idaho

Group Eleven Resources Corp (CVE:ZNG) (OTCMKTS:GRLVF) (FRA:3GE)  encouraged by its first drilling at Gortdrum prospect, a former copper mine in Ireland

CO2 GRO Inc (CVE:GROW) (OTCQB:BLONF) (FRA:4021) initiates a commercial feasibility project of its CO2 Delivery Solutions with a macadamia nursery in South Africa

Fidelity Minerals Corp (CVE:FMN) (FRA:S5GM) (OTCMKTS:SAIDF) announces plans to raise up to C$600,000 in a private placing

ImagineAR Inc (CSE:IP) (OTCQB:IPNFF) (FRA:GMS1) teams up with First Tube Media to deliver AR to GrubHub Sound Bites concert series

Avalon GloboCare Corp (NASDAQ:AVCO) expands its MIT co-development research program to fight cancer spread

Gevo Inc (NASDAQ:GEVO) names industry veteran Paul Bloom as its CTO and Chief Innovation Officer

Victory Square Technologies Inc (CSE:VST) (OTCMKTS:VSQTF) portfolio company Immersive Tech teams up with YouTuber Chris Ramsay to offer UNCONTAINED AR experience

Safe-T Group Ltd (NASDAQ:SEFT) (TASE:SFET) posts 50% revenue growth in 2020 and IP proxy sales bump

Energy Fuels Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:UUUU) (TSE:EFR) (FRA:VO51) rounds out 2020 with robust balance sheet as it pays off all debts and has $40.2M in working capital

RedHill Biopharma Ltd (NASDAQ:RDHL) provides opaganib treatment under compassionate use exemption for several Swiss patients suffering from coronavirus pneumonia

1.45pm: Wall Street opens on a mixed footing as Dow lags

The main indices on Wall Street have started the week on a mixed note as the opening bell rang in New York on Monday.

In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.24% to 32,551 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.06% to 3,915 and the Nasdaq rose 0.78% to 13,318.

Traders seem somewhat unsure of which way to turn as rising yields continue to provide a source for jitters, however with a busy week ahead and comments expected from Fed chair Jerome Powell later today the mood could find a solid outlook.

However, the macro picture may not be off to the best start as the Chicago Fed national activity index reported a fall to -1.09 in February, its first negative reading since April last year.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was barely in the green in mid-afternoon, up 6 points at 6,714 at around 1.45pm.

11.45am: Mixed start in prospect for US

As often seems to be the case these days, the Dow Jones is the odd one out among US indices, with the index set to open lower.

Spread betting quotes suggest the Dow will dip 19 points to 32,609, leaving it out of step with the broader-based S&P 500, which is set to pen around 5 points firmer at 3,918 and the tech-laced Nasdaq 100, which is looking at a 98 point advance to 12,965.

“Risk markets are taking a short breather from last week risk-off and oil is stabilising,” said Stephen Innes, the chief global market strategist at Axi.

“Still, the swift moves in yields showed the Fed’s complacency around upcoming inflation might have unintended and lasting consequences.

“It’s a busy week ahead, so the pause makes sense as markets will continue to digest the reopening boom and higher yields cycle through the lens of a series of crucial and timely PMI releases.

“There will also be a healthy heaping of Fedspeak this week, including two appearances by Fed Chair Powell, which will be sure to keep investors on their toes,” Innes added.

The Federal Reserve’s chair, Jerome Powell, is set to speak today as part of a panel on central bank innovation. Let joy be unconfined.

On the US macro front, existing home sales data is set to be released today, with the market expecting February’s number to slip to 6.5mln from 6.69mln in January.

“US existing home sales are expected to be down 2.8% mom [month-on-month]. This is a bit less than tomorrow’s new home sales, which are forecast to be down 5.2% mom; however I think people are likely to ignore these figures or at least discount their importance as being heavily affected by the bad weather during the month,” suggested Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss.

Back in Blighty, the FTSE 100 has edged into positive territory, with an 8 point (0.1%) gain at 6,717.

11.00am: The Footsie packs up its troubles in its old kit bag

Turkey, schmurkey – European markets have regained some sort of calm after an initially nervous reaction to events in Turkey.

The FTSE 100, down 8 points (0.1%) at 6,701 was one of those European indices paring early losses; meanwhile, in Germany and Italy, the benchmark indices have turned positive.

“Concerns over a third wave of covid in Europe is dragging on risk sentiment. Last week, France announced it was reimposing lockdown restrictions as a third wave of covid spread. Germany’s Angela Merkel is also considering extending Germany’s lockdown for a fifth straight month as new daily infections rise. Quite simply, the longer economies remain shut, the longer economic recovery will take, and the deeper potential economic scarring from the pandemic could be,” said Sophie Griffiths at OANDA.

“The rise in infections in the old continent comes amid a sluggish vaccine programme and ongoing confusion in Europe over the safety of the AstraZeneca jab. While a report in the US revealed the AstraZeneca vaccine was 79% effective, works just as well in people both over and under 65 and under, and doesn’t increase the risk of blood clots, some countries in Europe are still refusing to resume use. The vaccine desperately needed some good press to boost the stock price, even if many Europeans remain rattled over its safety,” she added.

Financial stocks are helping prop up the Footsie, as is plumbers’ merchant Ferguson PLC (LON:FGSN), which is up 1.6% at 8,700p as its share buyback programme got underway.

Lockdown fears continue to cast a shadow over the usual suspects, however; British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines SA (LON:IAG) is down 4.4% at 197.6p; aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) is off 2.7% at 113.85p and contract caterer Compass Group PLC (LON:CPG) is 1.7% weaker at 1,454.5p.

9.40am: Kingfisher leads the rally

After a wobbly start, London’s leading equities have achieved equilibrium.

The FTSE 100 was down 2 points (0.0%) at 6,706, thanks in part to a positive reaction to results from the DIY retailer, Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF).

Shares in the bodge jobber’s favourite company rose 6.3% to 332.4p after it reported a 7.1% increase in like-for-like sales in 2020.

“The DIY boom, which ranged from large home improvement spends to adjusting areas for working from home, could hardly have played more thoroughly into Kingfisher’s hands,” suggested Richard Hunter, the head of markets at interactive investor.

“Alongside a significant decline in exceptional costs from the previous year which flattered the figures further, pre-tax profit jumped to £756 million from £103 million a year earlier. Indeed, there were strengths in the key metrics across the board, with notable improvements to earnings per share, profit margins, improved cash flow and a large reduction in net debt.

“The favourable environment has led to an increased dividend payment which implies a yield of around 3%. At the same time, the early signs for the new financial year are also encouraging, with like for like sales ahead by 24% so far. Meanwhile, the company is testing new collection, delivery and store concepts in order to capitalise further on the current momentum,” he added.
 

8.45am: Turkey-shoot

The FTSE 100 opened up in worse shape than had been predicted as Turkey and the EU began the ‘neg’ on UK sentiment.

The local currency fell out of bed after president Erdogan sacked his globally respected central bank chief and replaced him with a little-known professor of banking.

The ripples were felt on both the bond and equity markets, particularly during a choppy session in Asia earlier.

Closer to home, the EU’s threat to withhold vaccine exports to Britain added to the rather tetchy mood on the London market, as did the warning that international travel bans may be extended several months.

No prizes for guessing the morning’s big fallers, then. On the Footsie, it was British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG), which lost 3.5% in altitude, while Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), which provides jet engines to the carriers and is often paid per mile they fly was off 3.4%.

On the FTSE 250, easyJet (LON:EZJ) was off 7.9%, while TUI (LON:TUI) dropped 4.3%.

On the up was B&Q owner Kingfisher (LON:KGF), which advanced 3.3% as its sales surged thanks to click-and-collect.

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) held firm in the storm around its vaccine, exports of the said jab, and the EU’s vacillations as to whether it works or not.

Investors tended to focus instead on a new study that showed the Oxford University-developed drug was both safe and effective for older recipients.

Proactive news headlines 

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) is pulling the trigger on the £25mln share buyback programme announced earlier this month. The programme will end no later than December 22 of this year.

Arix also noted that its portfolio company Aura Biosciences, today announced the closing of an oversubscribed US$80mln financing, following strong interest from leading global investors. Arix retains a 5.6% ownership stake.

Samarkand Group PLC (LON:SMK) made a healthy start to trading on its first day of dealings on the Aquis Exchange.

Powerhouse Energy Group PLC’s (LON:PHE) executive chairman has outlined his long-term vision for its technology, announced good progress in Poland and welcomed a significant new shareholder.

Avation PLC (LON:AVAP) said it has delivered a new ATR 72-600 aircraft to the South Asian airline US-Bangla Airlines with the lease at market rates.

EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT) and MetalNRG PLC (LON:MNRG) have signed a framework partnership agreement to develop sustainable green energy projects. In a separate announcement, EQTEC said 2021 is forecast to be its first year of profitability as the company said it is targeting “considerable” sales growth from its European projects.

4D pharma PLC (LON: DDDD) has passed a “transformational milestone” following the completion of its merger with US investment vehicle Longevity Acquisition Corporation, according to chief executive Duncan Peyton.

Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) has set out a details of the programme of work it intends to undertake in the coming months across its extensive portfolio of exploration and development projects. 

Asiamet Resources Ltd (LON:ARS) has released the results of recent metallurgical testwork related to its BKM copper project in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, which it said are “highly promising”.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) has agreed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the protocol for a small confirmatory clinical study of MED3000, the company’s treatment for erectile dysfunction. 

Rare diseases specialist Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT, LON:AMYT) said the French authorities have signed off its drug Myalepta for reimbursement.

Induction Healthcare Group PLC (LON:INHC) said that its patient portal Induction Zesty has surpassed 200,000 patient users in the UK.

Faron Pharma PLC (LON:FARN) said Part II of a trial for its precision cancer drug shows significant efficacy signals while it was also advised to increase the dosing frequency.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) is now a third of the way through its 3,080 metre drill programme at the Bibemi gold project in Cameroon. 

Helium One Global Ltd (LON:HE1) has appointed Mitchell Drilling Ltd as drilling contractor for the company’s maiden three well exploration programme on its Rukwa project in Tanzania.  Mitchell Drilling will mobilise a drill rig from Tanzania and work is anticipated to start in mid-May.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) told investors that the operator of the West Newton project, Rathlin Energy, has launched an online consultation event.

88 Energy Ltd (LON:88E) raised $6.48mln of new capital as it advances the drilling of the Merlin-1 exploration well in Alaska.

CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC) said it has been awarded a significant project by Jisc, a UK non-profit that supports higher and further education and research, to support critical UK domain infrastructure. 

Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN) (OTCQB:CINGF) has provided a progress update on the launch of its Nifty Labs Ltd subsidiary, which in early March entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singaporean firm Indorse to form a joint venture to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) technology development studio. 

MGC Pharmaceuticals Limited (LON:MXC) (ASX:MXC) shares moved higher on Monday after it said it has received Ethics Committee approvals from the Rambam Health Care Campus and the Nazareth Hospital EMMS in Israel for Phase III clinical trials of its CimetrA treatment on patients diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Evgen Pharma PLC (LON:EVG) has appointed a chief business officer as it focuses on potential partnering activities for its lead compound, SFX-01.

Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) said Hans-Peter Rudolf is joining Shield’s senior executive team as the chief financial officer (CFO) with immediate effect. Rudolf is a Swiss national with extensive international experience, particularly in the US. 

Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL, NYSE:CMCL) posted higher underlying profit for 2020 on record production and higher gold prices. EBITDA rose to US$43.3mln, from US$29.9mln in 2019, as revenue jumped by a third to US$100mln.

6.50 am; FTSE 100 called lower 

The FTSE 100 looks set to open modestly lower following a mixed early session in Asia.

The region was affected by the US Federal Reserve’s decision to end certain emergency measures put in place to help the financial industry deal with the impact of the pandemic.

Adding a slice of uncertainty to the mix was President Erdogan, who has removed central bank chief Naci Agbal, sending the Turkish Lira lower.

The net impact was the choppiness seen in Asia, coupled with a firming of prices on the bond market where yields had been on the up.

Here at home expect wobbles from the Covid bounce-back stocks following the weekend spat with the EU over vaccine stocks and the bloc’s position over exports of jabs to the UK.

Also likely to hold back sentiment is the growing likelihood that overseas trips will have to put on hold for several more months.

Looking ahead, we have updates from B&Q owner Kingfisher (LON:KGF), Cineworld (LON:CINE) and United Utilities (LON:UU.).

The scheduled interims from Bellway (LON:BWY), meanwhile, will provide a health check on the wider housing market.

Around the market

  • Pound US$1.3852 (-0.14%)
  • Bitcoin US$57,766.35 (+1%)
  • Gold US$1,736.40 (-0.43%)         
  • Crude oil US$64.22 (-0.48%)

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Monday as investors watched the Turkish lira fall following President Erdogan’s shock decision to replace the country’s central bank chief.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.03% while the Shanghai Composite in China gained 0.89%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell more than 2% and South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.04%.

Shares in Australia rose, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.66% higher.

READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE

Proactive Australia news:

Elementos Ltd (ASX:ELT) (OTCMKTS:ELTLF) (FRA:9EM) has been as much as 45% higher to A$0.017 today after results from another two holes at the flagship Oropesa Tin Project in Spain confirmed zones of tin mineralisation up to 31.1 metres thick with assays of up to 12.9% tin.

Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX:NTU) (OTCMKTS:NOURF) (FRA:NUN) has surpassed a new production milestone after producing 210,000 kilograms of heavy rare earth carbonate (REC) at the Browns Range Pilot Plant in northern Western Australia.

Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) has completed the acquisition of a 50% interest in the Penny’s Find Gold Project further enhancing its strong gold position near Kalgoorlie in Western Australian’s Goldfields.

Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM) (FRA:4EA) has received firm commitments from institutional and sophisticated investors to raise $15 million in a strongly oversubscribed share placement which will enable the company to complete a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the TECH Project in Queensland.

Pantoro Ltd (ASX:PNR) has received additional broad, high-grade gold assay results from Green Lantern deposit at the 50%-owned Norseman Project which continue to expand the Scotia Mining Centre.

YPB Group Limited (ASX:YPB) has developed an ‘evaporating tracer’ that can identify the presence of disinfectant on a surface for five hours after application.

Fe Ltd (ASX:FEL) (FRA:B4T) has been granted a key environmental approval for its Wiluna West JWD Iron Ore Project in Western Australia as the project gets moves closer to the start of mining.

Salt Lake Potash Ltd (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) (FRA:W1D) has started front-end process plant commissioning at its Lake Way Sulphate of Potash Project near Wiluna, Western Australia.

Euro Manganese Inc’s (ASX:EMN) (CVE:EMN) (OTCMKTS:EROMF) (FRA:E06) private placement to raise gross proceeds of A$30 million (C$29 million) has received strong institutional participation and has been oversubscribed.

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