- FTSE 100 index sheds 25 points
- AstraZeneca’s Calquence not helpful for COVID-19 treatment
- B&M flat despite special dividend
10.35am: AstraZeneca disappoints in treating COVID-19 with cancer drug
FTSE 100 wallowed in the red in late morning, dropping 25 points to 6,356.
AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) was flat at 8,771p despite posting disappointing results for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with its cancer drug Calquence.
In phase II clinical trials, the candidate did not increase the proportion of patients who remained alive and free of respiratory failure compared to best supportive care.
“While the CALAVI results are disappointing, we remain committed to advancing science that helps patients during this unprecedented global pandemic, including clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine and our long-acting antibody combination,” noted José Baselga, executive vice president at the oncology division.
In the theme of vaccines, Moderna Therapeutics (NASDAQ:MRNA) said late on Wednesday it has enough data on the final stage of trials of its COVID-19 jab to start interim analysis.
It means that it can submit data to the trial’s independent data safety monitoring board, which in turn will make a recommendation to the authorities based on its assessment.
The biotech did not say when it will release the data.
9.35am: B&M issues special dividend as ITV posts better advertising revenues
FTSE 100 pared its losses in mid-morning, dropping 30 points to 6,351, though it still felt the hit from the dire GDP forecasts for the upcoming winter.
Meanwhile, sterling shed 0.3% to US$1.3184 as Brexit woes are not over yet, with news now expected for next week.
The budget retailer posted stellar half-year results but its share price remained flat at 502p.
8.45am: Retreat to be expected
The FTSE 100 index beat a retreat in early trade on Thursday as profit-takers moved in following three sessions of strong gains on the back of positive news regarding a coronavirus vaccine on Monday.
The index of UK blue-chips opened 58 points lower at 6,324.30.
However, in spite of the gloomy start there were a few risers early on. Among them was Burberry (LON:BRBY), which provided a guardedly optimistic assessment of prospects.
The re-emergence of countries such as China, which has a newly minted, label-obsessed middle class, and Korea provided some reassurance, as did the performance of the US.
“The outlook remains chequered for Burberry as the pandemic rumbles on, but the company has made some progress of late,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.
“A vastly improved second quarter improved the overall half-year numbers, where store sales and revenues exceeded expectations, but this was not enough to repair the damage which had already been caused.” Burberry rose 4.3% in early trade.
Having motored 15% higher in the last week on consolidation hopes, the company’s capital markets update, which restated the insurer’s profit ambitions as well as laying out dividend and cash plans, was used by some traders as the cue to check out.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury, lost 5.3% of its value after it began trading shorn of its dividend payment. All told ex-dividend factors knocked around 9 points off the FTSE 100 index on Thursday.
8.00am: Record GDP growth fails to cheer market
The UK economy expanded at a record pace in the third quarter – though the performance left dealers cold as the FTSE 100 succumbed to some early profit-taking.
Gross domestic product rose by 15.5% over the latest three-month period, but it is still around 8% down on its pre-coronavirus pandemic level.
And with boosters such as Eat Out to Help Out at an end and the UK now in the grip of a second national lockdown, the outlook remains grim.
The Bank of England is predicting the economy will shrink by around 11% in 2020.
“A strong rebound in the economy is clearly positive, but we should keep the champagne on ice for now,” said Laith Khalaf, analyst at funds group AJ Bell.
“The summer boom was turbo-charged by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, while the furlough scheme worked its magic by keeping unemployment under wraps. But if you shut down an economy and then open it up, it’s not hugely surprising that you get a huge seesaw effect in quarterly GDP numbers.
“A swollen summer of economic activity hasn’t repaired the damage done in the first half of year though and the new lockdown means the UK can expect to end 2020 significantly behind where it started,” he added.
Proactive news headlines:
Powerhouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) has inked a non-binding heads of terms agreement with Hydrogen Utopia International (HUI) for a potential licensing deal in Poland. The preliminary agreement envisages Powerhouse granting HUI an exclusive non-transferable licence for the application of its DMG technology, which produces hydrogen from the processing of waste plastics. HUI has paid a €100,000 deposit in connection with the agreement
AfriTin Mining Limited (LON:ATM) has reported higher production of tin concentrate from its Uis mine in Namibia as a phase one, stage one ramp-up continues at the project. In an operational update for October, the AIM-listed firm reported that production of tin concentrate had increased to 48.2 tonnes containing around 32.2 tonnes on tin metal, a 24% month-on-month increase. The company said the production level achieved in October represented around 90% of the stage one target in terms of tin contained in concentrate.
Bango PLC (LON:BGO) revealed it has expanded its partnership with Microsoft to open-up access to Xbox subscriptions and consoles sales. The global platform for data-driven commerce noted that with new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S now available in time for the year-end buying season, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service and Xbox All Access program are expected to be in high demand. Microsoft will leverage the Bango Platform to enable telco partners to bundle Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox All Access in their subscription packages.
Brickability Group Plc (LON:BRCK) delivered a solid first half financial performance as the construction materials distributor bounced back strongly from the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown along with the rest of housebuilding the sector. Chairman John Richards told investors in the interim results statement: “The recovery that we have seen is V-shaped and continues to improve.” While first-half revenues slid to £75.3mln from £97.9mln, the group’s gross margin increased by 1.5 percentage points giving underlying earnings (EBITDA) of £8mln and profit before tax of £5.4mln, down just £1.1mln on the year earlier.
Clipper Logistics PLC (LON:CLG) said it has continued to see strong trading across its business in the year to date as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated a structural shift towards e-commerce. In a trading update for the six months to October 31, 2020, the logistics, e-fulfilment and returns management specialist said it now expects to report revenue for the period of at least £300mln, a near 20% increase over the prior year, including e-fulfilment growth of over 30% and non-e-fulfilment logistics growth of around 10%.
FastForward Innovations Limited (LON:FFWD) said its investee company SatoshiPay has achieved two significant landmarks – it has reached 10,000 wallets, and has created an application programming interface (API) that should significantly increase its reach. The blockchain-based nano-payments company said the API means its technology can be used on all websites, mobile apps and internet-connected software. Previously, it could only be used by websites running WordPress, which accounted for 26% of the total number of sites.
KR1 PLC (LON:KR1) said it has started generating revenue from staking activities on the Kusama network, a portfolio holding it received at zero cost in line with the Polkadot position. Staking involves holding funds in a cryptocurrency wallet to support the security and operations of a blockchain network, effectively locking cryptocurrency to receive rewards. Kusama, which launched in early 2019, is an incentivised ‘canary’ network for the Polkadot blockchain project and is designed to battle-test technical upgrades for Polkadot as well as allow aspiring Polkadot parachain projects to test their systems before deployment on Polkadot.
Horizonte Minerals PLC (LON:HZM) (TSE:HZM) said it remains well-funded to advance its Araguaia ferronickel mine in Brazil towards being construction-ready and highlighted a strong cash position of £13.6mln. In its results for the three months to September 30, 2020, the nickel developer also said that the project financing process is continuing to progress with a number of key milestones delivered. These included a syndicate of five international financial institutions being mandated for a US$325mln senior debt facility to part-fund the development of Araguaia.
Capital Limited (LON:CAPD) has announced the award of a new contract and subsequent mobilisation of an initial four drill rigs to Firefinch Limited’s in Mali. The leading mining services company, which is focused on the African markets, said the rigs are part of Capital’s existing West African fleet and will undertake an extensive delineation program under a two-year preferred contractor agreement between Firefinch and Capital. The first rig is now on-site, with the balance scheduled to arrive during the current quarter.
VietNam Holding Limited (LON:VNH) said that a Monthly Investor Report detailing the activities of the company for October 2020 has been issued by Dynam Capital Limited, its investment manager. The report notes that Vietnam is poised to become the biggest constituent in the MSCI Frontier Markets 100 Index following Kuwait’s recent reclassification as an Emerging Market. This means that Vietnam could make up as much as 30% of this benchmark index by the end of 2021 and potentially attract several hundred million dollars more from foreign equity investors.
Enteq Upstream PLC (LON:NTQ) has highlighted its stability with its interim results, thanks to its rapid response to the challenges in its markets amidst the pandemic and lower crude oil pricing. The specialist oil and gas services firm noted that international diversity has increased, with non-US sources now accounting for some 74% of revenue versus 42% in the same period a year ago. Specifically, it has seen growth in China and the Middle East. Separately, Enteq announced upcoming board changes via its successions plan with founder and chief executive Martin Perry moving to the non-executive chairman role from April 2021. Andrew Law, currently commercial director, will become the company’s chief executive.
Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) (ASX:THR) said that, further to its announcement of July 14, 2020, regarding the sale of the Spring Hill royalty entitlement to Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR), while approval of the acquisition by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board has not yet been received, it is expected shortly and the parties have agreed to extend the period during which completion can take place to November 30, 2020. A further announcement will be made as appropriate, the companies added.
Empire Metals Limited (LON:EEE), the AIM-quoted resource exploration and development company, announced that the resolution approving the sale of the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary GMC Investments Limited to Candelaria Mining Corporation, was duly passed at a general meeting on Wednesday. The final condition for closing of the transaction is the waiving of a right-of-first-refusal (ROFR) in favour of Empire’s Georgian partners, Caucasian Mining Group which must be exercised within 20 business days from Empire submitting an offer. The final date for this ROFR to be exercised is November 23, 2020.
AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC), a leading provider of hydrogen power generation technologies, announced that its board of directors, having reviewed the company’s funding requirements following the £31.6mln fundraise earlier in the year, has agreed with Thalion Global Group to terminate with immediate effect the financing facility the company has in the form of the £4mln convertible loan note facility announced on April 12, 2019. No drawdowns were made on the facility. Adam Bond, AFC Energy’s chief executive officer commented: ”I wish to thank Thalion Global Group for the confidence shown in the Company’s technology and business plan last year, giving us the financial stability, in uncertain economic times, to continue delivering on our strategy and securing first commercial orders alongside a very successful fund raise earlier this year”.
NextEnergy Solar Fund Limited (LON:NESF) has announced an interim dividend of 1.7625p per ordinary share for the quarter ending September 30, 2020, which will be paid on December 31, 2020, to shareholders on the register as at the close of business on November 20, 2020. The ex-dividend date is November 19, 2020. The company will also be offering shareholders a scrip dividend alternative to this interim dividend, the reference price for which will be announced on November 26, 2020, with elections to be made by December 4, 2020.
Zephyr Energy PLC (LON:ZPHR), the Rocky Mountain oil and gas company focused on responsible resource development, announced that a new presentation is available on its website https://www.zephyrplc.com/ via the link https://www.zephyrplc.com/presentation-nov-20. The presentation provides an overview of the history of the company’s Paradox project and its potential.
Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), a global venture capital company focused on investing and building breakthrough biotech companies, has announced that Dr Naseem Amin, its executive chairman, is scheduled to participate in an analyst led fireside chat at the Jefferies Virtual London Healthcare Conference on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 10:35am GMT. A live webcast of the fireside chat will be available on the investor relations section of Arix’s website at https://arixbioscience.com/investor-relations/events-presentations. After the conference, an archived replay will be available on the company’s website at the same address.
6.50am: Footsie set to give up some of its recent gains
The FTSE 100 is predicted to give up more than 1% at the open on Thursday as the week’s earlier coronavirus vaccine glee gives way to pragmatism and caution.
CFD and spreadbetting group IG sees London’s blue-chip benchmark down around 67 points, making the price at 6,320 to 6323 with just over an hour to go until the open.
After the rally over the past few days, on Pfizer’s strong vaccine news some profit-taking was at some point inevitable – especially as attention turns to what will be an unprecedented and pressured logistical undertaking.
Rolling out a vaccine globally will come with a myriad of political, ethical and economic implications.
“Now that a couple of days have gone by and we’ve had more time to absorb the enormity of this week’s announcement, we are now starting to hear some more discerning voices make their presence felt, in terms of the logistical difficulties involved in the distribution of this vaccine, as well as how effective the vaccine is likely to be on a longer-term basis,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
He added: “This would suggest that there is probably a lot of wishful thinking going in with respect to how quickly any new vaccine is likely to get rolled out. In other words, investors run the risk of getting ahead of themselves, running the risk of a sharp pullback.
“These concerns could well start to see a little profit taking start to creep in as Europe wakes up for a new trading session, with markets here set for a modestly lower open.”
Wednesday’s trading in New York was mixed. The Dow Jones Industrials Average slipped slightly lower to close at 29,397, down 23 points. The S&P 500, meanwhile, edged 0.77% higher to finish the day at 3,572 and the Nasdaq Composite raced up 2% to finish at 11,786. The small-cap focused Russell 2000 index scratched out a slim decline, ending at 1,736.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 171 points or 0.68% to trade at 25,520 whilst Hong Kong’s Hang Seng flipped negative, down 135 points or 0.52% at 26,091. The Shanghai Composite was 0.32% lower at 3,332.
Around the markets:
- The pound: US$1.3191, down 0.23%
- Gold: US$1,868 per ounce, up 0.19%
- Silver: US$24.11 per ounce, down 0.57%
- Brent crude: US$43.58 per barrel, down 0.06%
- WHI crude: US$41.24 per barrel, down 0.29%
- Bitcoin: US$15,867, up 2.93%
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower on Thursday as the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation remains severe despite positive news on the vaccine front with the US recently setting a new record of average daily cases.
Mainland Chinese stocks fell by the evening with the Shanghai composite dipping 0.31% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.54%.
In South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.35% but Japan’s Nikkei 225 was an exception, rising 0.68%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gave back its early gains and closed 0.49% lower at 6,418 following its rise for five successive sessions from last Thursday to yesterday.
Proactive Australia news:
Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) subsidiary Stealth Technologies has licensed technology from Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), that enables robots to work together in teams.
archTIS Ltd (ASX:AR9) has received very strong demand resulting in binding commitments from investors for a placement, raising gross proceeds of around $8.4 million via the issue of 25,454,545 million shares at 33 cents per share.
Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:PAR) has initiated a Phase II clinical trial of subcutaneous injectable Pentosan Polysulphate Sodium (iPPS), in patients with the ultra-rare orphan disease Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 1 (MPS-1).
Oakdale Resources Ltd (ASX:OAR) (FRA:F1S) has started aircore drilling at the Gibraltar Halloysite-Kaolin Project within Australia’s premier halloysite-kaolin region on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.
Galena Mining Ltd (ASX:G1A) has completed the funding package for Abra Base Metals Project after an agreement was executed with Taurus Mining Finance Fund No2 LP for US$110 million in project financing debt facilities.