- FTSE 100 index drops 202 points
- US indices set to plunge
- Witty and Vallance double-act contains little new material
12.45pm: US indices expected to open sharply lower
US stock futures pointed to a near 450 point opening loss for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday as political worries ahead of the fast-approaching US presidential election and fears over the coronavirus pandemic kept investors wary.
The death of Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have market implications, as what is expected to be a hotly contested nomination battle for her replacement could further impact sentiment in Congress, which has yet to agree on a new stimulus package for the coronavirus crisis or government funding beyond the end of September.
Edward Moya, senior market analyst, New York, OANDA commented: “Global stock markets are tumbling as coronavirus cases surge in Europe, political tensions in the US will likely derail any further fiscal support efforts, and after International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported lenders’ delay in providing suspicious activity reports. With little on the economic calendar, risk aversion could remain steady throughout on the session.”
He added: “Surging coronavirus cases and doubts over the next over the next round of fiscal support is triggering a wide range risk-averse tone that is sending the dollar higher and sinking gold.”
“A deteriorating global economic recovery is growing as Europeans struggle to contain the latest wave of the virus, but that should only reinforce the stimulus trade going forward.
“The US economic outlook is starting to look a lot worse as the path for a fiscal agreement seems unlikely given the Republican and Democratic battle over who will be the next Supreme Court justice,” Moya concluded.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 202 points (3.4%) at 5,805.
Noon: We’ve turned a corner – and are heading back the way we came
We’ve turned a corner on the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, according to Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser.
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong corner leading in a dismal direction.
There is now an increase in COVID-19 cases across all age groups in the UK, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, noted in a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.
“This increase in numbers is translating into an increase in hospitalisation. There is no doubt we are in a situation where numbers are increasing,” Vallance said.
The market has taken the hint that tougher restrictions are on the way for the hospitality sector, which is a far cry from the “eat out to help out” initiative of a few weeks back.
Mid-cap pubs groups Mitchells & Butlers PLC (LON:MAB) and Wetherspoon (JD) PLC (LON:JDW) have been hammered – well, getting hammered is sort of their stock in trade – with the former down 21% at 120p and the latter down 9.2% at 772.5p.
Bus and trains groups are also on the run, with Firstgroup PLC (LON:FGP) 13% lower at 113.5p and National Express Group PLC (LON:NEX) 12% softer at 113.5p, while WH Smith PLC (LON:SMWH), which relies on heavy footfall at railway stations, bus depots and airports, lost a tenth of its value at 983p. The UK government has extended its emergency funding deal for train operators and signalled the end of the “complicated rail franchising system”.
The FTSE 250 was down 697 points (4.0%) at 16,872, which means it was doing even worse than the FTSE 100, which was down 207 points (3.4%) at 5,800.
11:59am: IG says oil is in full retreat
As crude oil continues the decline that started last week, the West Texas Intermediary contract needs to fight back if a bullish trading view is to be revived or retained, so say the chartists at CFD trading firm IG Markets.
WTI crude fell below US$41.26, the marker for its 50-day moving average and the next target down is US$38.40 per barrel, according to IG analyst Chris Beauchamp. If bulls don’t arrest the slide the next level down after that will by around US$36, he added.
Elsewhere in the commodity market, IG notes that whilst the gold price turned lower amidst today’s volatility the yellow metal is holding its 50-day average, US$1,938, traders will eye a rally to US$1,970 in order to revive a forecast of higher prices.
10.45am: Pessimism reigns in British households
The IHS Markit UK Household Finance Index for September was unchanged from August at 48.0.
The index is intended to anticipate changing consumer behaviour accurately and it is one of those indices where a value below 50 indicates deterioration and a value above 50 indicates improvement.
“Pressure on household finances in the UK remained intense in September. The headline HFI figure was unchanged on the month and well below the 50.0 threshold, signalling another sharp deterioration in the financial situation of UK households.
“With just over a month to go until the end of the government furlough scheme, the survey measure of job security perceptions dipped further into negative territory, reflecting households’ unease about their jobs, whilst incomes from employment fell for the sixth month in a row,” said Lewis Cooper, an economist at IHS Markit.
“September data also signalled reductions in household spending, savings and cash availability, all of which highlight the crunch on finances at present. As a result, UK households were the most pessimistic since May with regards to their financial wellbeing in 12 months’ time.
“Given the latest figures and the recession the UK is facing during the pandemic, there is undoubtedly a long and uncertain road ahead for UK households to recover financially,” he added.
September IHS Markit #UK #Household Finance survey finds 18.7% of households expect next #BankofEngland move to be to cut #interest rates (20.9% in August). 53.2% expect a rate hike within a year (48.9% in Aug) while 66.8% expect a hike within 2 years (62.6% in Aug #interestrate https://t.co/aUjQ9xJpq3
— Howard Archer (@HowardArcherUK) September 21, 2020
The FTSE 100 was down 180 points (3.0%) at 5,827.
10.15am: Encouraging house price data overshadowed by lockdown fears
The latest Rightmove House Price Index indicated house prices rose 0.2% in September from August and were up 5.0% on September 2019.
“Increased competition for second-stepper homes has pushed prices to a record this month for those looking to take the next step up the ladder. Needing more space has always been the most popular reason for moving house, but now there’s a new urgency for extra space to be able to work from home, which means that there are different sets of buyers competing for the same type of property,” said Tim Bannister, the director of property data at Rightmove.
“When comparing with last year, it’s remarkable that two regions have already caught up with and overtaken the number of sales agreed across the year so far, and if the market continues at its current pace then we could see all areas of England break even over the next month or so. We know that some people are now choosing to move out of London altogether, but these latest figures show that there’s still plenty of activity in the outer areas of the capital. The market remains challenging in Zone 1, as the benefit of living within walking distance of an office in the City has dropped down buyers’ wishlists for now,” he added.
The FTSE 100 was down 191 points (3.2%) at 5,816.
9.40am: No nostalgia for March 23 lockdown spirit
Just four Footsie stocks are defying the trend as investors get a touch of the old March 23 lockdown revisited vibe.
The FTSE 100 is down 172 points (2.9%) at 5,836.
“In the UK, London’s Mayor Khan is expected to request more wide-sweeping lockdown measures due to the Covid-19 curve moving in the wrong direction.
“Another worrying sign for the market is the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance will give a press conference at 1100 BST. The PM will not be there,” said Stephen Innes, the chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.
The scholarly PM – Prime Minister – is perhaps busy reading up on the reign of King Cnut and in particular his rebuke of fawning courtiers who overstated the extent of his executive powers.
Or perhaps not.
“The UK media widely reports that they will say that the country is heading in the wrong direction with the coronavirus. The press also notes that the government will this week consider whether and by how far to impose new national social distancing regulations,” Innes noted.
Can’t wait for Chris Whitty to threaten to ground me
— Sarah Manavis (@sarahmanavis) September 21, 2020
The lockdown reprise is doing no favours to the share prices of British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG) and aeroplane engines maker Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.).
IAG is down 12.1% at 96.6p and Rolls-Royce, which is expected to launch a big fund-raising soon, is off 9.8% at 165.6p.
Housebuilders are also getting the cold shoulder as a tightening of lockdown restrictions could nip the revival of the housing market in the bud.
8.40am: Dire start on Monday
The FTSE 100 index saw wiped more than 100 points off in early trade on Monday amid second coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown fear as Britain teeters on the brink of a return to national house arrest.
The index of UK blue-chips opened 103 points lower at 5,904.10.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, via a televised briefing later Monday, is likely to say the country faces a “very challenging winter” with COVID-19 cases headed in the “wrong direction”.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, meanwhile, is reported to be considering a two-week mini-lockdown in England in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
“Prospects for a sharp economic recovery have all but disappeared, as global growth receives the new threat of a resurgent pandemic,” said Richard Hunter of Interactive Investor.
“In addition, with talks for a further fiscal stimulus in the US seemingly in deadlock, investors have been choosing to vote with their feet over recent trading sessions given the deteriorating outlook.”
HSBC (LON:HSBA) shares were marked 3.2% lower in early trade, following their drop to a 25-year low in Hong Kong amid money laundering allegations. Standard Chartered (LON:STAN), also named in a Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ report, fell by the same quantum.
Indeed, it appeared to be open season on the whole banking sector.
Leading the FTSE 100 fallers, however, was the now perennial laggard Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), whose fundraising efforts were revealed in the media over the weekend. The stock dropped 7.7% as it also caught a chill on potential further restrictions on international travel, which will hit its major customer base – the airlines.
As if to underline the point, British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) was off 4% in Rolls’ slipstream.
One of only a handful of risers, Informa’s (LON:INF) crash to a heavy loss possibly wasn’t as dreadful as anticipated judging from the 3.2% jump in the share price of the events and exhibitions group.
In the results statement, chief executive Stephen Carter said that as well as the resilience in the specialist subscriptions, data and content, he was also encouraged by the recovery of Informa’s physical events business in China, whilst virtual events are “maintaining our brands, developing our digital services and enhancing our data capabilities”.
Among the second-liners, Cineworld (LON:CINE) was off 7.5% amid second lockdown worries.
Proactive news headlines:
[email protected] Capital PLC (LON:SYME) has unveiled the outline terms of a strategic inventory funding agreement for up to EUR8bn over five years with a new “captive bank”. The fintech group said it has entered into a strategic agreement with a leading European alternative investment firm and its shareholders, 1AF2 and The AvantGarde Group, to acquire the European bank. The objective of the deal is to support the growth of the [email protected] platform, investors were told.
finnCap Group PLC (LON:FACP) has joined the list of companies resuming dividend payments after buoyant first-half trading for the group. In an update, the small-cap broker and corporate finance house said the record trading it had seen in the first quarter of its financial year had continued. As a result, revenue for the six months ending September 30, 2020, will be at least 37% higher at GBP19.5mln with a ‘significant uplift in profitability on the prior period’, the group added.
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) has acquired a 50% interest in a 2,680 square kilometre portfolio of base and strategic metal project interests in Botswana from Kavango Resources (LON:KAV) to be held in a new strategic joint venture holding company. Consideration for the acquisition payable to Kavango comprises GBP75,000 in cash, six million shares at a price of 1.25p each and five million warrants at 2p. Also, Power Metal commits to sole funding of US$150,000 over two years for exploration expenditure across the Ditau Camp and Kalahari Copper Belt projects to ensure expeditious and proactive project exploration, with any further expenditure above US$150,000 being funded jointly by Power Metal and Kavango.
Landore Resources Ltd (LON:LND) turned in a GBP695,000 loss for the six months to end June 2020, almost exactly level with the loss booked for the corresponding period a year ago. The company spent GBP102,750 on exploration at its highly prospective Canadian portfolio, which includes the BAM gold deposit on the Junior Lake project. Cash at the period end was GBP79,000. However, the company raised GBP2.9mln on June 29, 2020, and took delivery of the new funds after the period end. Separately, the company said it is also to acquire half of the 2% net smelter returns royalty held on the Lamaune Lake property for C$150,000 in cash and shares.
Maxcyte Inc (LON:MXCT) has said its full-year revenues are on track to be modestly ahead of current market expectations. The group said the first half of the year saw strong revenue growth driven by high-margin recurring annual fees from its cell therapeutics business, instrument sales and clinical milestone payments. Excluding its investment in its CARMA Cell Therapies subsidiary, the cell-based therapies and life sciences company saw underlying earnings (EBITDA) turn positive at US$0.6mln in the first half of 2020, compared to a loss of US$1.4mln the year before.
Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) has noted that its portfolio company Fieldwork Robotics is to develop a cauliflower harvesting robot in collaboration with the Bonduelle Group. Frontier, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, said the collaboration with Bonduelle, one of the world’s biggest producers of vegetables, is the second application of Fieldwork’s patented agricultural robot technology to gain food industry backing. Fieldwork has already made strong progress with a raspberry-harvesting robot in collaboration with Hall Hunter Partnership, one of the UK’s biggest soft fruit producers, and is now working with Bosch to optimise the software and design of the robotic arms. Frontier IP holds a 26.7% stake in Fieldwork.
IXICO PLC (LON:IXI) has been selected to provide its brain scan expertise to a trial being conducted by a leading network of Alzheimer’s research institutions. The UK group will collect and analyse positron emission tomography images generated by the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation’s (GAP) Bio-Hermes study. Its main purpose is the development of a database to investigate biomarkers on a head-to-head basis in conjunction with medical history elements. The trial will include 1,000 volunteers over the age of 60 screened for pre-clinical Alzheimer’s as well as prodromal and mild dementia forms of the disease.
Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) has entered into a binding agreement with Fe Limited (ASX:FEL) for the early payment of the second tranche of the consideration for the Koolyanobbing royalty acquisition, in exchange for a A$350,000 discount. As announced on March 25 and June 3, 2020, the second tranche of the payment for Koolyanobbing required Trident to pay A$3mln on June 4, 2021. Under the amended agreement, Trident will instead pay A$2.65mln by September 25, 2020, which will satisfy the obligation related to the second tranche fully. Early repayment of the facility will allow Trident to crystalise an effective annualised 17.5% risk-free return on capital whilst removing the future payment obligation and releasing security currently registered over the Koolyanobbing royalty in favour of Fe Limited.
Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) told investors that operations have resumed at the Kyalla 117 N2-1H ST2 well at the Beetaloo project in Australia’s Northern Territory, with a fracture stimulation of the well. A production test is expected to follow during the fourth quarter, with results due in the first quarter of 2021, the group said. Results from the Kyalla well will help inform an anticipated decision to either further evaluate this liquids-rich gas play or commence activities in the Velkerri liquids-rich gas play, it added.
EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT), a world-leading gasification technology solutions company for waste-to-energy projects, announced on Friday that the joint venture parties have agreed to further extend the exclusivity period of the Billingham Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) until November 22, 2020. The company entered into a conditional MOU on May 8, 2019, with COBRA Instalaciones Y Servicios, its strategic partner for the development of waste-to-energy projects, and Scott Bros. Enterprises Limited to jointly develop the proposed up to 25 MW Billingham Energy waste gasification and power plant at Haverton Hill, Billingham, UK. The Billingham MOU has been the subject of previous extensions, as announced by the company on October 23, 2019, and June 23, 2020. After the extension announced in June, the company said it has progressed the proposed development of the project, including discussions with potential co-developers and funders; instructed and received a full quotation for the grid connection from the grid operator, Northern Powergrid; and completed technical due diligence with insurance providers. The group said the extension of the exclusivity period now is with the aim of finalising the preparation of a legally binding option agreement with Scott Bros which, if agreed, will grant EQTEC and its partners the right, but not the obligation, to purchase the entire issued share capital of Billingham EFW Limited, the Project SPV, from Scott Bros, subject to agreement on consideration and other terms.
Afarak Group PLC (LON:AFRK) (NASDAQ:AFAGR) revealed on Friday that on Wednesday, September 16 creditors of Afarak Mogale (Pty) Ltd voted unanimously in favour of the adoption of the proposed business rescue plan. It noted that the adopted restructuring plan provides for the disposal of the assets of Afarak Mogale (Pty) Ltd and for the proceeds of such disposals to be utilised in settlement of the claims of creditors. The company said it and its advisors will now embark on a process to invite offers for the assets.
Adamas Fin Asia Ltd (LON:ADAM) has announced that further to the announcement on September 10, 2020, there has been a further delay in the receipt of the remaining subscription monies due under the placing. To date, approximately 60% of the committed subscription monies have been received by the company, with one placee’s commitment remaining outstanding. The company said it is in contact with the placee and understands the delay is logistical only. Adamas is therefore expecting to receive these outstanding subscription monies shortly, and in any event by no later than September 30, 2020. The company said it will not extend the timetable past this date and should the outstanding subscription monies not be received by such date, it will take the necessary steps to close the open offer and placing forthwith. Consequently, the timing for the company’s name change taking effect will occur as soon as practicable after the placing and open offer has been completed.
Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL) announced that it has been notified that John Kelly, a director of Caledonia, has sold a total of 13,163 common shares of the company. It noted that Kelly now holds 16,330 shares which represent a holding of approximately 0.013% of the share capital of the company.
ECSC Group PLC (LON:ECSC), the provider of cybersecurity services, has announced that Ian Mann, its chief executive officer, will provide a presentation and live Q&A session with investors on Friday, September 25, 2020, at 10.00 am via the Investor Meet Company platform. The presentation will relate to the Group’s interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, which will be announced on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. The online presentation and Q&A session is open to all existing, and potential, investors who can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and then click “Add to meet” ECSC via the following link to join the presentation and Q&A session: https://www.investormeetcompany.com/ecsc-group-plc/register-investor
6.50am: Footsie called lower
The FTSE 100 looks set to open firmly in negative territory on Monday with the UK at a “tipping point” that could lead to a second, wholesale lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, via a televised briefing later Monday, is likely to say the country faces a “very challenging winter” with cases headed in the “wrong direction”.
According to newspaper reports, Boris Johnson is considering six months of new curbs following restrictions in the north of England. The capital, meanwhile, could be the next into quarantine, according to London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Asia’s markets were subdued amid second wave worries and international trade concerns.
“As we look to a new week, with investors absorbing the recent statements from central banks, and the prospect that further stimulus may not come immediately, concerns are rising that the summer recovery is probably as good as it gets when it comes to the recent rebound in economic activity,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.
“This reality combined with the growing realisation that a vaccine remains many months away, despite President Trumps claims to the contrary, has made investors increasingly nervous, as we head into an autumn that could see lockdowns re-imposed, and a US Presidential election whose outcome could well be too close to call, with two fairly unimpressive candidates.”
Fed chair in the chair
Near term, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will be given a forum Tuesday through to Thursday to expound his vision for a renewed US stimulus package as he testifies before Congress.
Eagerly awaited in the US will be Tesla’s (LON:TSLA) Battery Day on Tuesday.
Investors and Musk army of fanboys and fangirls are charged up with excitement, while the battalion of Tesla bears reckon the whole thing is Musk hype.
The South African-born billionaire said earlier this year that the event will “blow your mind” and more recently added that there will be “many exciting things” to see.
Around the markets:
- Pound worth US$1.2955 (up 0.29%)
- Bitcoin $10,947.04 (flat)
- Gold US$1,959.40 an ounce (down 0.41%)
- Brent crude US$43.05 a barrel (down 0.1%)
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower on Monday, with China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.52% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.42% lower.
South Korea’s Kospi extended losses by the evening falling 0.88% and over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.74% with falls by major banks and big miners weighing on the index.
Proactive Australia news:
Pure Minerals Ltd (ASX:PM1) has received firm commitments from institutional and sophisticated investors to raise $4.4 million via a share placement of more than 293 million fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of 1.5 cents per share.
AVZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:AVZ) has executed a share purchase agreement (SPP) to secure an additional 10% of Dathcom Mining SA from its JV partner, Dathomir Mining Resources SARLU, the 100% holder of the Manono Lithium and Tin Project in the DRC.
Anson Resources Ltd‘s (ASX:ASN) recent review of historical and recent exploration data at the Ajana project in Western Australia has identified multiple high-grade zinc, copper, lead and silver exploration targets.
Nelson Resources Ltd (ASX:NES) has used an ultra-high-resolution ground magnetics survey to identify new gold drilling targets at Redmill and Grindall prospects within the flagship Woodline Gold Project in WA.
Great Southern Mining Ltd (ASX:GSN) has intersected gold mineralisation in phase-two reverse circulation (RC) drilling up to 1-kilometre along strike at the Cox’s Find project in WA’s Laverton Gold District.
Kingwest Resources Ltd (ASX:KWR) has completed a fully underwritten non-renounceable 1-for-5 entitlement offer at an issue price of 13.5 cents per share to raise $3.3 million as part of a $4.3 million capital raising.
Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) has partially divested its Emu Lake Project north of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, to unlisted public company Metal Hawk Ltd as part of its exploration management strategy.
MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) (FRA:H5O) welcomes new guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on its approach to assessing applications from cannabis-related companies for listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
Creso Pharma Ltd‘s (ASX:CPH) (FRA:1X8) wholly-owned subsidiary Mernova Medicinal Inc has received an initial purchase order (PO) worth C$180,000 from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation in Canada for two of its premium strains, HPG13 and Lemon Haze.