column Proactiveinvestors column RSS feed en Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:40:11 +0100 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) Dividend payers on Aim: not as rare as you might think Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:55:00 +0100 Today's Market View - Beowulf Mining, Premier African Minerals and Bluebird Merchant Ventures Beowulf Mining (LON:BEM)– Graphite project in Finland completes first round drilling
Bluebird Merchant Ventures (LON:BMV) 2.1 pence, Mkt Cap £3.8m – Bluebird jv to reopen two high-grade gold mines in South Korea. 
Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM) – The problem with Premier African Minerals


Safe haven assets rally while equities and the US$ index slide after US Congress fails to repeal Obamacare highlighting concerns over Trump’s ability to deliver promised deregulation initiatives.
• Dollar index is off 0.5% this morning trading at the lowest level in nearly eight weeks.
• US equity futures suggest the index is to fall when trading starts later today taking the Wall Street benchmark at a six week low.
• Gold prices are up more than $10/oz trading at the highest level over the last month.
• Base metals are all off today.
• Miners at Escondida ended a 44-day strike and returned to work on Saturday.
• Iron ore futures on the DCE were down 3.9% while benchmark 62% Fe material delivered in Qingdao was bid at $85/t (-1.5%) on Friday.
• Chinese iron ore stockpiles held in ports increased to 132.5mtg (+1.1%) as of Mar 24; on course, to deliver a 16% increase this quarter and market a seventh quarterly gain.
• Steel futures on the SHFE dropped for the seventh time in eight days losing as much as 5.9% and hitting the lowest level since Nov.

Dow Jones Industrials  -0.29% at 20,597
Nikkei 225  -1.44% at 18,986
HK Hang Seng  -0.73% at 24,181
Shanghai Composite  -0.08% at 3,267
FTSE 350 Mining  -2.13% at 15,489
AIM Basic Resources  +0.34% at 2,593

US – Both services and manufacturing activity growth slowed in Mar on the back of softer increase in new business orders, according to the Markit PMI data released on Friday.
• “The US economy shifted down a gear in Mar.”
• “The economy is struggling to sustain momentum… readings are consistent with annualised GDP growth of 1.7% in Q1, down from 1.9% in Q4 last year.”
• On a more positive side, business outlook is reported to have improved slightly which may tail down should new administration struggle to pass proposed tax cuts through US Congress.
• A separate report showed capital goods orders fell in Feb taking the three month rolling average growth lower to 0.3%mom, down from 0.9%mom in Jan and 1.0%mom in Dec (the highest level in two years).


China – Industrial profits surge 31.5%yoy in the first two months of the year marking the strongest increase since 2011.
• Increases in industrial output, increasing prices and lower costs are reported to have contributed to strong numbers, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Germany – Business sentiment is recovering following a weak reading in Jan with manufacturing and services output expanding at the fastest pace in almost six years.
• IFO Business Climate: 112.3 in Mar v 111.1 in Feb and 111.1 forecast.
• IFO Expectations: 105.7 in Mar v 104.2 in Feb and 104.3 forecast.

UK – The BoE is planning to carry out a new set of “exploratory” stress tests targeting the seven largest lenders on top of its regular annual risk assessment amid the start of the process of the UK leaving the EU.

Zambia – Zesco, a state-owned power supplier, said it will cut tariffs for miners at the expense of higher charges for other customers.
• Mining companies will pay 9.3c/kWh this year compared to 10.4c/kWh charged in 2016.
• Zesco asked the energy regulator to increase tariffs on other users by 50% from May 1 with a further 25% hike from Sep 1.

US$1.0872/eur vs 1.0786/eur last week.   Yen 110.17/$ vs 111.26/$.   SAr 12.319/$ vs 12.499/$.   $1.258/gbp vs $1.249/gbp.
0.763/aud vs 0.761/aud.   CNY 6.874/$ vs 6.891/$.


Commodity News
Precious metals:         
Gold US$1,258/oz vs US$1,242/oz last week
   Gold ETFs 53.5moz vs US$58.7moz last week
Platinum US$974/oz vs US$957/oz last week
Palladium US$809/oz vs US$803/oz last week
Silver US$17.91/oz vs US$17.56/oz last week
Base metals:   
Copper US$ 5,730/t vs US$5,818/t last week
Aluminium US$ 1,929/t vs US$1,931/t last week
Nickel US$ 9,735/t vs US$9,955/t last week – The government is reported to have received applications to export 12mt of low grade nickel ore after the administration decided to temporarily relax its ban introduced in 2014.
• “So far, we’ve received two application and we haven’t issued any export recommendations,” the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said.
• Chinese statistics show that shipments started in Jan and Feb with 174.8kt exported last month marking a 42%%mom increase.
• Indonesia’s nickel ore exports peaked at over 6mt in Jan/14 ahead of the blanket ban on raw materials exports.

Zinc US$ 2,787/t vs US$2,830/t last week – Capital Economics expect prices to come down in H2/17 on the back of a weaker demand and the restart of idled mining operations.
• Estimates are for prices to close at $2,450/t.
• Mine output is forecast to grow 2% this year (excluding potential restarts at Glencore mines) compared with a 0.3% increase in 2016.
• Additionally, refined metal demand is expected to decline as growth in China is set to slow down markedly to 1.5% in 2017.

Lead US$ 2,315/t vs US$2,358/t last week
Tin US$ 19,595/t vs US$20,205/t last week
Oil US$50.4/bbl vs US$50.6/bbl last week
Natural Gas US$3.120/mmbtu vs US$3.037/mmbtu last week
Uranium US$24.65/lb vs US$25.15/lb last week
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$82.3/t vs US$83.2/t
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$560.0/t vs US$567.5/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$64.2/t vs US$63.0/t last week
Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$150.1/t vs US$150.4/t

Tunsgten APT European US$206-216/mtu (from the 24Mar week) v US$208-216/mtu (from the 17Mar week)

Company News
Beowulf Mining (LON:BEM) 9.6 pence, Mkt Cap £48m – Graphite project in Finland completes first round drilling
• Beowulf Mining have completed eight drill holes into the Aitolampi graphite prospect in Finland.
• The company have drilled some 1,197m of in total with ‘substantial’ graphite mineralisation seen in each drill hole.
• A massive 113.5m intersection of graphitic material corresponds with an electromagnetic conductor.
• It is interesting to see Beowulf moving on to this project in Finland, something it might have done some time ago.
• The authorities in Sweden appear to have given the company a bit or a run around which may eventually make Sweden look as appealing as a ‘hole in a lifeboat’ to mining companies.
• Ironically, iron ore prices are such that projects like Kallak North in Sweden could have a chance of working with iron ore prices at generally high levels.
Conclusion:  The thing about graphite is that it’s easy to see but that we need to wait for assay and other metallurgical results to know what sort of value might be contained.  Demand for graphite is set to continue to rise alongside other battery materials with a fair number of new graphite mines likely to come on stream over the next few years to meet this demand.  Moves to set up new battery manufacturing facilities in Scandinavia should help with local ‘bulk’ graphite production potentially having an advantage over material from elsewhere in the world.

Bluebird Merchant Ventures* (LON:BMV) 2.1 pence, Mkt Cap £3.8m – Bluebird jv to reopen two high-grade gold mines in South Korea. 
• Bluebird Merchant Ventures report they are to reopen two high-grade gold mines in South Korea.
• The company will enter into a 50:50 joint venture upon completion of a feasibility study on each of the two mines with Bluebird as the operator of the projects.
• Bluebird has to spend £0.5m in the first 12 months to produce a feasibility study as well as investing A$0.25m into a placing in Southern Gold for each mine.
• Gubong was once the second largest gold mine in South Korea running from 1908 till its closure in the 1970’s due to low gold prices.
• The mine has “two vertical shafts, an incline and a few hundred kilometres of underground development.”
• “The mine area, which is 4 square kilometres in size, is recognised as being in one of the 10 major metallogenic provinces in Korea. Mineralisation is recognised over 14 square kilometres.”
• “Whilst Taechang has not been developed to anything like the extent of Gubong, it was a high-grade producer. Accesses to the underground workings were not previously sealed off and are mostly open thus making it an ideal target for early production..”
• Colin Patterson who will become ceo and Aidan Bishop, a founder and director have both offered to the Board that they would like to take 100% of their respective salaries over at least the next 12 month period in stock and for that stock to be subject to lock-in arrangements to be agreed with the Board.
*SP Angel acts as broker to Bluebird Merchant Ventures

Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM) 0.6 pence, Mkt Cap £22.9m – The problem with Premier African Minerals
• Premier African Minerals has raised £2m in equity.
• The company went out to raise £1.5m but elected to take up additional demand raising £2m.
• It is normal good practice to leave some demand on the table but in this case management decided to take the cash being offered.
• The company will now have 4.4bn shares following this issue.
• There is no statement on what the funds are to be spent on though we note the company continues to diversify its portfolio with the recent addition of a forestry and limestone business in Mozambique.
• The statement also notes the company has a 2m share holding in the Danakil Potash Project.  This is not the big potash project in the Danakil depression in Eritrea being developed by Danakali Ltd but is a lesser known deposit in Ethiopia being progressed by Stephen Dattels, Brad Mills and others.
• Premier also has a 4.5% interest in Casa Mining which continues to explore the Akyanga gold resource in the DRC to see if part of this might be worth further evaluation.
• Premier has also jumped onto the lithium bandwagon through the drilling of a lithium pegmatite project near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe where the company has reported some early stage drill results at depths (>100m) which make them look allot less interesting than if they were near surface.
• The problem with Premier African Minerals is that much of this new funding is likely to be drained by problems at the company’s RHA tungsten mine in Zimbabwe.
• The mine has missed successive and unrealistic targets and has required extensive modification to the plant and recovery process including the expense of a new X-Ray sorter in an attempt to raise recovery rates.  Note extra sorting means greater operating expenses, capital costs and increased loss of resource.
• The Chairman and CEO, and it’s rarely good to combine the two roles, commented that the mine should become cash generative in the near future, though we wonder when the near future might be reached?  
Conclusion:  Given the history of missed targets and poor performance we suspect shareholders can wave goodbye to these funds and await the next appeal for fresh capital.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:48:00 +0100
Breakfast News -AIM Breakfast : Independent Oil & Gas, Genedrive, Itaconix, Obtala, Set menu AIM:

Total number of AIM Companies (Incl Susp):


Total number of AIM Companies trading:


*as at close of business  26 March 2017

Set menu NEX Growth:

Total number of NEX Growth Market Companies (Incl Susp):


Total number of NEX Growth Market Companies trading:


*as at close of business  26 March 2017

Dish of the day

No NEX Growth Market Joiners Today

Off the menu

No NEX Growth Market Leavers Today

Dish of the day

BioPharma Credit— Admission to  the  Specialist Fund segment of the Main Market expected today

Falcon Acquisitions  has joined the Standard List raising £25m at 4p. Focused on the over-the-top ('OTT') video streaming market

Off the menu

No AIM Leavers Today

What’s cooking in the IPO kitchen? Path Investments—Publication of prospectus from the Energy Investment Comnpany. Raising £1.4m. Admission due on or around 30 March. Franchise Brands—Schedule 1 detailing £28m reverse takeover of Metro Rod. Admission expected 11 April. Alpha FX Group— Schedule 1 from the foreign exchange provider focused on managing exchange rate risk for UK corporates that trade internationally.  Fundraise TBC. Admission expected 7 April. K3 Capital Group—Schedule 1 from the Group of business and company sales specialists across business transfer, business brokerage and corporate finance. Admission date and fundraise details TBC. Integumen— Schedule 1 from the personal health company developing and commercialising technology and products for the human integumentary system. Raising £2.16m at 5p. Expected market cap £8.16m. Admission expected 5 April. Tufton Oceanic Assets– Offer extended to 9 May to enable investors to complete further due diligence.   

What’s cooking in the IPO kitchen? Path Investments—Publication of prospectus from the Energy Investment Comnpany. Raising £1.4m. Admission due on or around 30 March. Franchise Brands—Schedule 1 detailing £28m reverse takeover of Metro Rod. Admission expected 11 April. Alpha FX Group— Schedule 1 from the foreign exchange provider focused on managing exchange rate risk for UK corporates that trade internationally.  Fundraise TBC. Admission expected 7 April. K3 Capital Group—Schedule 1 from the Group of business and company sales specialists across business transfer, business brokerage and corporate finance. Admission date and fundraise details TBC. Integumen— Schedule 1 from the personal health company developing and commercialising technology and products for the human integumentary system. Raising £2.16m at 5p. Expected market cap £8.16m. Admission expected 5 April. Tufton Oceanic Assets– Offer extended to 9 May to enable investors to complete further due diligence.

Breakfast buffet

Quadrise Fuels International (LON:QFI) 8.45p £67.86m

FY Dec 16 results from  the emerging supplier of MSAR® emulsion technology and fuel, enabling a low cost alternative to heavy fuel oil. Loss after tax of £2.4 million (2015: £2.4 million). In November, the Company raised £5.25 million through a Placing and Open Offer of new ordinary shares. The Open Offer was oversubscribed 2.5 times. Current Maersak trial suspended due to unrelated incident with the ship. Maersk is reviewing options for recommencing and completing the full LONO trial on a new vessel from Q4 2017 onwards. Further trial due to start in Saudi in Q4 2017.


  Botswana Diamonds (LON:BOD) 1.27p £4.78m

HYDec16 results. £136k operating loss. Cash down to £60k  from £500k at year end. Raised £525k gross in February 2017. Other Highlights:

“The Company entered into a phased earn-in agreement with Vutomi Mining Pty Ltd ("Vutomi"), a late stage diamond explorer in South Africa;

The Company agreed with the board of Maibwe, our joint venture in the Kalahari desert in Botswana, that Botswana Diamonds would drill verification holes following the encouraging results from 2015;

A work programme for 2017 was agreed with Alrosa for the Orapa and Gope licences in Botswana.”

Independent Oil & Gas (LON:IOG) 16.25p £17.76m

The development and production focused oil & gas company, announced an update on its Harvey and Elgood licences.  The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has confirmed the continuation of licence P2085, which contains the Harvey discovery, until 20 December 2017. The technical work prepared and submitted by IOG in relation to its Elgood discovery has also been accepted by the OGA and will be added to the Blythe Field Development Plan as a satellite development. If successfully appraised, Harvey has the potential to be the largest gas discovery in IOG’s portfolio and significantly enhance the economics of IOG's Southern North Sea business. The range of internal resources estimates are large with a P10, P50 and P90 range of 44 BCF, 113 BCF and 290 BCF respectively.

Genedrive (LON:GDR) 42.5p £7.76m

The near patient molecular diagnostics company, today announces submission of its Genedrive® HCV ID Kit (Hepatitis C) for CE IVD certification under the EU Medical Devices Directive. Receipt of CE IVD certification will allow commercialisation of the product within the EU and in resource limited countries in the rest of the world that accept CE certification under their national regulations. Where local registration is required, CE marking is often a prerequisite. This portable quick test has a significant market opportunity.


SpaceandPeople (LON:SAL) 18p £3.5m

FYDec16 results from he retail, promotional and brand experience specialist. Gross revenue of £22.9m. Net revenue of £9.7m. Profit from continuing operations before taxation and non-recurring costs of £60k. Basic Earnings per Share before non-recurring costs of 0.3p.   Net cash at year end of £384k. “The introduction of important and iconic new venues means we are in a strong and growing position in our market, and there is still considerable scope to grow further. Our UK venues team has a very healthy pipeline of potential new venues they are engaging with and we are hopeful that we will continue to add to the size, diversity and quality of our portfolio.” 2017E PE of c. 7x

Elektron Technology (LON:EKT) 7.5p £13.72m

The global technology group, has completed the sale of the business and assets (excluding trade debtors and creditors) of Digitron to The British Rototherm Company Limited for a total gross consideration of £0.3million cash payable on completion. Digitron is a manufacturer of instruments for pressure and temperature measurement. In the year ended 31 January 2017 the business of Digitron traded as a brand within Elektron Technology UK Limited with sales of £1.4 million and 'Brand Contribution' of £60,000.  The sale is part of the Group's rationalisation of its portfolio, focusing its investment on the core segments of Bulgin, IMC (Instrumentation, Monitoring and Control) portfolio and Checkit.  There are no market forecasts.

Itaconix (LON:ITX) 26p £20.47m

FY Dec 16 results. During 2016 Itaconix (formerly Revolymer plc) undertook a major reorganisation to focus on its Specialty Chemicals business primarily in the high value market areas of Homecare, Personal Care and Industrial. Itaconix and its subsidiaries aim to be a leader in functional polymers that improve the safety, performance and sustainability of its customer's products. £8.8m of liquid funds. Continuing ops revenue £0.3m. £5.2m loss. Acquisition of Itaconix Corp in June 2016 for initial $7m consideration. FYDec17E rev of £1.4m and £4.6m pre-tax loss.

Obtala (LON:OBT) 17.63p £48.93m

Q1 update. ‘Intense planning is underway for several major projects as the company transitions towards meaningful production, and deployment of our substantial assets. Following the successful US$ 14.25 million fundraising via the issue of preference shares in Argento Limited (Obtala's 75% owned forestry subsidiary) during the final quarter of 2016, which was recently upsized by a further US$ 3 million, as announced on 15 March 2017, management has turned attention towards laying the foundations required for significant and sustainable increases in productivity from both the forestry and agriculture businesses. New sawmills coming onstream and refrigerated pack house in Tamzania (agriculture). There are no market forecasts.

K3 Business Technology  (LON:KBT) 254.5p £91.8m

H1Dec16 results from the provider of industry specific mission-critical software (owned and 3rd party), hosted solutions and managed services to the retail, manufacturing and distribution sectors. Significant operational progress made but results impacted by deal slippage and overhead investment. Revenues of £42.97m (2015: £42.29m).  Recurring revenue of £21.22m (2015: £19.72m). Adjusted EPS of (0.4p) (2015: 12.0p). ‘While the market shift towards cloud-based subscription models, away from the traditional on-premise model, is causing some disruption to the sales cycle, the lifetime value of such contracts has the potential to be significantly higher  and K3 is well placed to benefit as a result. ‘FYJun17E of £89m rev and £7.8m PBT seems a stretch.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:33:00 +0100
Today's Oil and Gas Update - Hurricane Energy and Sirius Petroleum o Hurricane Energy (LON:HUR  – 59p) – Halifax Becomes Lancaster and makes Hurricane a Target
o Sirius Petroleum (LON:SRSP – 0.85p) – Seabed Survey a Prequel to What?

In Brief
• Hurricane Energy (LON:HUR – 59p) – Halifax Becomes Lancaster and makes Hurricane a Target: Today's news that the Halifax well is potentially in communication with Lancaster is a surprising development, not least as it potentially means that the field has gained significant size., and while it is not possible for seismic to be effectively used to see “inside” basement rock, due to relative seismic homogeneity, given that liquids always settle flat unless acted upon this fact, and it's easy to see the topography of the top of the basement on seismic, it means that the Company can have a good stab at estimating the potential rock volume containing the rock, and hence a potential “reservoir” size using well data. While we would have no doubt that this would be a guesstimate, and fall short of the burden of confidence required by SPE-PRMS guidelines, we do believe it offers an interesting guide at this stage. We believe that the next steps for the Company will be to “pepper” the asset with appraisal wells at distances calculated from data from the Lancaster and Halifax well results to provide an appropriate pattern, such that the reserves from collated and implied single well EURs can be estimated. These are luxury problems to have, and based on the current data, and at an EV of $810mm and already identified 2C Resources of 207mm bbl, at a value of $3.91/2C bbl, we would suggest that the Company has now ranked itself as a significant acquisition target as we estimate that the regional Finding costs are ~$5.25/2P bbl. It must be remembered that the Company suspended farmin negotiation to go sole risk as they backed their judgement, and for the evidence of the last two wells, it was the right decision.

• Sirius Petroleum (LON:SRSP -) – Seabed Survey a Prequel to What?: Today's news outlining the appointment of a seabed surveyor should silence any doubters that a company is moving ahead with its plans to drill. However, in this instance, to our mind, it raises more questions, most notably over funding, or rather its source, and the plan from here. We remain unconvinced that the management have put together a joined-up plan which encompasses this well, what it is aimed at achieving, the wider development, and those risks and costs. While we would like to believe that the Company is maintaining a joined-up plan, as the financial and technical partner, the lack of cohesive information and dialogue about the asset leads us to doubt that it is. If this is indeed the case, the Company is at risk of being marginalised on the asset and defaulted out just as it gets to the point at which it should start to s ee value for the shareholders being generated. However, we do recognise that the Company may not have disclosed its plans to the Company’s owners, which we sincerely hope is the case. If the Company is found lacking, and only time will tell, the closer the asset comes to a go/no-go decision, the greater the risk that the Company will be marginalised becomes. The Company needs to disclose its development and financing strategy soon, or risk these perceptions becoming imbedded.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:52:00 +0100
In the Papers - Dyson, UBS, Samsung, BT, Ladbrokes and others Newspaper Summary

The Times
Dyson hits out at plan for greater openness: Government plans to force private companies to be more transparent will harm Britain’s competitiveness and impose unfair and expensive burdens on the most innovative businesses, Sir James Dyson has said.

Train builders set for joint HS2 bid: Britain’s two train manufacturers could team up to build £2.75 billion of superfast rolling stock for the High Speed Two rail project. With HS2 due to start canvassing soon for bids to deliver 60 225mph trains, each able to carry 1,000 passengers by 2026, Bombardier and Hitachi seem increasingly likely to pitch together for the contract.

Profits go supersonic as hairdryer blows away opposition: Demand for supersonic hairdryers and reliably solid sales of bagless vacuums have helped Dyson to report another stellar year where its profits soared after stealing market share from rivals.

New broom will not sweep old brands out of her stable: Emma Walmsley is understood to have decided against a spin-off of Glaxosmithkline’s consumer healthcare division as she prepares to take formal charge of the pharmaceutical giant next week.

UBS set to secure a Very good role: UBS is poised to land the lead role in advising the owners of Shop Direct on a possible sale or stock market listing of the retailer behind the Very and Littlewoods brands.
Energy firm pulls plug on face-to-face sales team: Ovo Energy, one of Britain’s biggest independent energy suppliers, is shutting its face-to-face sales operation with the loss of about 100 jobs.

Bank’s spending on legal fees triples: The bank’s average annual payments to City of London law firms are running at nearly £7 million, compared with an average of £2 million between 2011 and 2013 and the number of lawyers the bank employs has increased by nearly 50% from 46 in 2014 to 68 in 2016.

Shetland find lifts North Sea oil hopes: Hurricane Energy has made another oil discovery near the Shetland Islands, bolstering hopes that it may have the biggest find in British waters this century.
The Independent

No Brexit deal would mean a ‘painful and costly’ EU departure, manufacturers warn: Theresa May’s suggestion that no Brexit deal was better than a bad deal risked condemning U.K. manufacturing to a “painful and costly” exit from the EU, an employers’ body warns.

Theresa May faces ‘legislative swamp’ after she triggers Article 50, Tory MPs warn: Tories have warned their leader Theresa May that she faces being “swamped” in years of complex parliamentary and legal wrangling once she triggers the Brexit process.

Donald Trump printed out made-up £300 billion NATO invoice and handed it to Angela Merkel: Angela Merkel will reportedly ignore Donald Trump’s attempts to extricate £300 billion from Germany for what he deems to be owed contributions to NATO.

Home ownership now out of reach for most young people, study finds: Home ownership is increasingly out of reach for young people without “the bank of Mum and Dad”, a study warns – demanding “radical action” from the Government.

Financial Times
Oil trading surge strengthens grip of big commodity houses: The world’s largest independent commodity houses have expanded their oil trading volumes by more than 65% during crude’s near three-year slump, marking them out as the biggest beneficiaries in the industry from oil’s protracted downturn.

Chinese overtake Singapore as top Malaysia property investors: China has eclipsed Singapore as the biggest source of investment in Malaysian real estate, as soaring domestic property prices push mainland investors to hunt for bargains abroad.

London and New York lose ground to Asian rivals in finance rankings: London remains top of a ranking of global financial centres but saw its overall score slide on concerns about its competitiveness in the wake of Brexit.

Brussels close to approving $140 billion Dow-Dupont tie-up: Brussels is set to deliver its verdicts on two big corporates deals this week with authorities expected to bless the $140 billion union of U.S. agrichemical giants Dupont and Dow Chemical while formally vetoing the €29 billion merger of the London Stock Exchange Group and Deutsche Börse.

Reviving Deutsche Bank in U.S. is priority for CEO John Cryan: Just over a year ago, when shares in Deutsche Bank were tumbling, the bank started putting out messages on screens in the lifts and lobbies of its building in lower Manhattan, assuring staff that it had plenty of capital to absorb losses and cash to pay bills.

Standard Chartered and Barclays face investor ire over CEO pay: Two of Britain’s leading banks have drawn criticism from some big shareholders over decisions to lower the hurdles for long-term bonuses for their Bosses, in the latest example of U.K. companies coming into conflict with their investors over Executive pay.

Credit Suisse pays out SFr250 million to retain top bankers and traders: Credit Suisse paid its top investment bankers and traders almost SFr250 million ($252 million) under a special scheme created to stop them jumping ship during the bank’s restructuring, its annual report reveals.

Advertisers demand Google discounts after YouTube backlash: Advertisers are demanding from Google prime space at discounted prices, after this month’s revelation that many brands had appeared next to extremist content on YouTube, the Google-owned site.

Britain’s shopkeepers struggle to absorb minimum wage rises: Thousands of British shopkeepers are set to take a pay cut next month because of a minimum wage rise that is part of the U.K. government’s plan to wean the economy off low-paid work.

Samsung looks to Galaxy S8 to win back consumer trust: Samsung will seek this week to draw a line under the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone safety scandal with the launch of the South Korean technology company’s latest handset, the Galaxy S8.

BT hit with record £42 million Ofcom fine: BT has been hit with a record £42 million fine by the telecoms regulator Ofcom and has agreed to pay £300 million to its rivals over the use of a loophole that artificially reduced the amount it compensated companies including Vodafone when it failed to connect a line in time.

Arconic/Elliott: lock them up: The “Secret August Voting Lock-Up” is not an upcoming thriller at the cinema. Activist investment fund Elliott Management may soon pen that screenplay, however. It is currently in a heated proxy fight hoping to dump Klaus Kleinfeld, Chief Executive of Arconic, the former Alcoa affiliate separated last November. Elliott’s intrigue-filled title spices up the situation, highlighting an odd corporate arrangement at Arconic.

Iceland banks: vote of confidence: Catharsis has given way to optimism in Iceland. In what amounts to the largest foreign equity portfolio investment in the country’s history, Goldman Sachs, Och-Ziff and two more hedge funds acquired just short of 30% of Arion Bank this week in a private placement worth IKr49 billion ($444 million).

The Daily Telegraph
Fading Trump rally threatened by rare contraction of U.S. credit: Credit strategists are increasingly disturbed by a sudden and rare contraction of U.S. bank lending, fearing a synchronised slowdown in the U.S. and China this year that could catch euphoric markets badly off guard.

WeWork launches fund for U.K. start-ups amid plans to double its London presence: U.S. shared offices company WeWork will almost double its space in London this year, as it launches a £1.2 million award scheme to back U.K. start-ups.

Ladbrokes may be looking up after better Cheltenham for the bookies: Bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral could be facing better odds this year ¬as the profits from a less punter-friendly Cheltenham Festival emerge.
Theresa May’s red tape burden ‘too much for listed companies’ says Legoland Boss: The Chief Executive of Britain’s biggest quoted leisure group has called for a “sanity check” on the Government’s corporate governance agenda as he warned management time is being “soaked up” with even more U.K.-led red tape.

National Grid prepares for ‘summer excess’ with calls to use more power: National Grid is gearing up for summer with the start of a scheme which pays companies to use more electricity when wind and solar power surges past demand.

Lendlease to build first ultra-green homes in central London: Development company Lendlease is to pioneer ultra-energy-efficient homes in central London, monitoring the residents over several years to see how new technology could change the housing market.

Booths, ‘the Waitrose of the North’, sets up shop in Malaysia: Booths, the upmarket northern grocery chain, has chosen to set up shop 6,588 miles away rather than attempt to crack the South of England.

The Guardian
Snapchat ‘will be bigger than Twitter, Yahoo and AOL with advertisers’: Snapchat could become more popular with advertisers than Twitter, Yahoo and AOL within three years, with the messaging app company forecast to bring in revenues of more than $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year before the end of 2019.

‘Bank of mum and dad’ making housing market more unfair, study finds: The number of first-time buyers relying on family loans from the “bank of mum and dad” to fund their deposits is exacerbating inequality and impeding social mobility, a government-backed study has warned.

Uber suspends fleet of self-driving cars following Arizona crash: Uber has suspended its fleet of self-driving cars while it investigates a crash in Arizona involving one of its vehicles.
Brewdog accused of hypocrisy after forcing pub to change name: Brewdog, the craft beer company that prides itself on a “punk” ethos, has been accused of acting like “just another multinational corporate machine” after forcing a family-run pub to change its name or face legal action.

Daily Mail
Lancashire’s textile industry wins Brexit boost as uniforms return to U.K.... but a big City jobs drain begins: Lancashire’s textile industry has won an unexpected Brexit boost as one of Britain’s largest providers of workers’ uniforms has brought manufacturing back to the U.K.

800 jobs rescued as investment firm Endless revives Jones Bootmaker £11million deal: Footwear retailer Jones Bootmaker has been bought by private equity firm Endless in an £11 million deal, saving around 840 jobs. But 262 jobs will be lost at 25 stores and six concessions considered underperforming and not part of the deal.

Europe’s top banks relying heavily on stashing profits offshore in tax havens to save cash: The 20 biggest banks in Europe have been accused of funnelling £18 billion of profits through tax havens in a bid to save cash.
How cavemen and yoga raves have put Gymbox in great shape with yearly profits of £2.4 million: A fitness chain with a difference is booming on the back of yoga raves, caveman jumping, circus training and even a workout that aims to make you taller. Gymbox sales grew last year from £13 million to £17 million, with pre-tax profits of £2.4 million, as it cashes in on a trend for unorthodox fitness classes.

Daily Express
Lloyds of London Chairman plays down Brexit challenges: Lloyd’s of London Chairman John Nelson says insurance market veterans view the challenges thrown up by Brexit as a “walk in the park” compared to the difficulties that nearly obliterated the business just decades ago.

Why after reporting a 2.6 billion loss would a company gives its Boss a 20% pay rise?: For some reason, the head of Pearson’s remuneration committee Elizabeth Corley and her colleagues think otherwise, awarding Chief Executive John Fallon a 20% pay rise, taking his total pay packet for 2016 to £1.52 million.

Larvae-ly solution to animal testing problem: Tech firm seeks crowdfunding for new project: University spin-out BioSystems Technology is looking for investment as it seeks to transform live animal testing by enabling researchers to use insect grubs instead of small mammals like rabbits and mice.

The Scottish Herald
Construction firms negative on Brexit: Nearly four times as many construction companies in Scotland fear Brexit will be negative for the sector as expect it to be positive, a survey has revealed.
U.K. financial services firms expand but signal caution: The U.K. financial services sector has achieved faster growth in business volumes in the first quarter than it had expected but expansion is projected to slow over the coming three months, a survey shows.

Enterprising teacher looks overseas for her inspiration: With the outlook for the economy uncertain we hear from an entrepreneur who reckons authorities at national and local level still need to do more to help the small and medium sized enterprises that play a vital part in supporting employment.

OnGen signs up key clients as funding increases: The green energy business called “the first step in an energy revolution” by early investor Ian Marchant has raised a further £200,000 in funding, and signed major clients.
‘Overlooked engine room’ firms key to Brexit talks: With overseas revenue of £5 billion, the needs of high-growth entrepreneurial mid-sized businesses must be considered in negotiations over the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, according to accountancy firm BDO, writes Kevin Scott.

Small offices targeted for energy boost: Environmental technology firm NetThings is targeting smaller commercial, and residential, properties for the first time with the launch of a web-enabled monitoring and control system that can reduce energy consumption by up to 20%.

Booker to update on trading ahead of expected probe into £3.7 billion Tesco merger: Wholesaler Booker will update on trading on Thursday amid mounting calls for a competition inquiry into its £3.7 billion merger with supermarket giant Tesco.

The Scotsman
Top Scots attractions outperforming rest of U.K.: Scotland’s leading visitor attractions are outperforming the rest of the U.K., according to new figures which showed they attracted more than 15 million visitors last year.
Labour sets out six ‘red lines’ on final EU deal: Labour will reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU if it doesn’t deliver the “exact same benefits” as being in the European single market and customs union, the party has warned.

City A.M.
Export support needs more long-term planning and stability, the British Chambers of Commerce has warned: One of the U.K.’s largest business lobbyists is calling for more “stability” in export planning ahead of the formal launch of Brexit talks.

Visitor figures for the Royal Academy and the Tate Modern pushed up by blockbuster exhibition and popular new extension: London’s cultural attractions welcomed 66,938,947 visitors last year, with the Tate Modern and the Royal Academy doing particularly well.

Gulf Arab states want to secure a speedy trade deal with the U.K. post-Brexit: Gulf Arab states are pushing for an early deal on free trade with Britain in the wake of Brexit.
Sentiment in the financial sector has stabilised in the three months to March despite falling throughout 2016: A robust economy has helped stabilise sentiment in the financial sector in the three months to March despite falling throughout 2016, according to a CBI/PwC financial services survey.

U.K. trade will grind to a halt if goods have to be declared after Brexit, warns the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA): As Brexit talks draw nearer, another industry has taken the chance to press the government for a suitable outcome.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:18:00 +0100
Northland Capital Partners View on the City - Premier African Minerals and Botswana Diamonds, Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM) – CORP: RHA and fundraising update
Market Cap: £26m; Current Price: 0.65p

RHA ramping up and £2m raised
  Plant modifications, including the installation of the XRT sorter is complete.
  The Company has also raised £2,011,396 through the issue of 402,279,254 shares at a price of 0.5p.
  Following the issue of shares the Company will have 4,385,022,019 shares in issue.
NORTHLAND CAPITAL PARTNERS VIEW: Positive news for Premier African Minerals with the RHA Tungsten Mine, located in Zimbabwe now ramping up production and its balance sheet strengthened with a £2m financing. The Company will use these funds to complete the maiden resource estimate at the Zulu Lithium Project, located in Zimbabwe and for exploration at the Catapu Limestone Project, located in Mozambique.

Dr Ryan D. Long +44 (0)20 3861 6621

Botswana Diamonds (LON:BOD) – SPECULATIVE BUY*: Interims
Market Cap: £4.8m; Current Price: 1.3p

An interesting period lies ahead of the Company
  H116 LBT decreased to £136k from £161k in H115.
  Net debt increased to £146k in H116 from net cash of £311k in H115.
  At the Frischgewaagt Project located in South Africa, 34 reverse circulation and 9 diamond holes have been drilled, of which 22 reverse circulation and 8 diamond holes intersected kimberlite. Petrographic and microdiamond analysis is ongoing with initial results expected in the coming months.
  At the Maibwe joint venture located in Botswana, three reverse circulation holes have now been completed on PL186. Analysis expected to take two months.
  In April, sampling and geophysics will be undertaken on the PL260 in Orapa and PL 135, 235 and 234 in Gope, as part of the Alrosa joint venture in Botswana.
NORTHLAND CAPITAL PARTNERS VIEW: Botswana Diamonds is approaching a very interesting period for the Company with microdiamonds results from the Frischgewaagt Project and Maibwe joint venture, and geophysics and sampling commence shortly at the Company’s joint venture projects with Alrosa.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:15:00 +0100
Trump rally not looking so Healthy FTSE 100 Index called to open flat -70pts at 7275, after breaking below rising support at 7315 and last week’s lows at 7300. This confirms a bearish flag that could complete as low at 7220. However,  while the uptrend since end-Feb may has been scuppered, the index is just about holding onto rising support at 7270 that goes back to, not just to the US election but June’s referendum. Bulls need a break above 7295; Bears can’t wait for a breach of 7270. Watch levels: Bullish 7295, Bearish 7270

Calls for a negative start to the new trading week come after late Friday’s withdrawal of Trump’s Healthcare bill, due to a continued lack of Republican support sapped optimism. While it puts into doubt ease of passage for other stimulus measures it could actually allow the new government proceed more quickly with the pro-growth infrastructure spending, deregulation and tax cut trio that have fuelled a 4-month global reflation rally.

The FTSE is hindered by GBP strength (due to USD weakness) weighing on its 70% of internationally-generated profits as well as a drop in commodity prices (base metals Oil) as fresh risk aversion kicks in; a double whammy blow for Miners and Oil majors.

Japan’s Nikkei is underperforming due to Yen strength derived from USD weakness and alternative safe haven seeking in parallel to the jumps by Gold and Silver while Property and Financials weigh. Australia’s ASX just the wrong side of breakeven on account of losses in the material space. Watch the dual-listed London miners at the open.

The late pulling of the Republican “Affordable Health Care Act” saw US equity markets pare gains on Friday as indices closed mostly lower. Although the tech-focused Nasdaq once again outperformed to finish higher, both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 closed weaker as Goldman Sachs weighed on the former while the latter suffered its worst weekly performance since Donald Trump’s November election.

Crude Oil is starting the week on the back foot as the Baker Hughes Rig Count on Friday recorded its 10th weekly increase, adding to concerns that rising US production will offset OPEC’s production cuts, given further impetus as rumours of an extension to the group’s cuts and a weaker US dollar are failing to buoy prices. Brent Crude is holding just above the crucial $50 mark at $50.20 support while US is challenging $47.50 support.

Gold is benefitting from the GOP healthcare reform failure and subsequent greenback weakness, trading at its highest level in a month, while a further $6 rally would see the precious metal reach its highest level since US President Donald Trump’s election in November. Increased safe haven demand has seen gold and its safe haven asset counterparts such as Treasury bonds and the Japanese Yen start the new week on a strong footing.

In focus this morning will be the from fallout from the 11th hour withdrawal of the US Healthcare bill on Friday night, putting a 4-month global Trump trade rally into question, as well as the run-up to Wednesday’s triggering of Article 50 to officially kick off the UK’s divorce proceedings with the EU.

On the data front, German IFO Surveys are seen largely flat with Business Climate clinging to 3yr highs of 111, while Eurozone M3 Money Supply holds firm at 4.9%. The afternoon is limited to the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index and while consensus is lacking, note recent jumps by the Philly, Chicago and Kansas equivalents.

Speaker-wise, the ECB’s Nouy and Lautenschläger speak at the Banking Supervision Annual Press Conference in Frankfurt, and the Fed’s Evans and ECB’s Praet talk “Economy and Policy” at a Global Interdependence Centre event in Madrid after the European closed.  Then it’s over to the Fed’s Kaplan for "A Discussion of Economic Conditions and the Role of Monetary Policy" in Texas after the US close.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:14:00 +0100
In The News - European Gold Forum & Amani Gold FROM THE BROKING DESK
From Monday 3 to Thursday 6 April both Jim Taylor and Kim Eckhof will be attending the European Gold Forum in Zurich. While their schedules are already pretty full, we’d obviously try to accommodate anyone who’d like a meeting, so please let us know if you’d like to see them.

While there, we’ll be coordinating meetings for Klaus Eckhof of Amani Gold††. Amani is currently working on its maiden resource, which is expected before the end of 2Q16. The infill diamond drilling programme at the Giro Project in the DRC has returned some significant results, with multiple intersections of high-grade material within a lower-grade envelope. The company is also busy with the due diligence process for the acquisition of 60% of the Tendao Project to the west of Giro; this would more than double Amani’s footprint and provide high potential for substantial mineralisation to be added to the Giro inventory. Please let us know if you’d like to meet with Klaus.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:11:00 +0100
Market Briefing - UK markets finished lower on Friday, as investors remained cautious UK Market Snapshot

UK markets finished lower on Friday, as investors remained cautious ahead of a key vote on US President Donald Trump’s Healthcare Bill. Crest Nicholson Holdings dropped 3.7%, after the company stated that it would go ahead with its directors’ remuneration policy despite more than half of its shareholders voting against the proposals. Royal Dutch Shell slipped 0.7%, after the oil giant announced that it would sell its onshore interests in Gabon to Assala Energy Holdings of The Carlyle Group for up to $737.0 million in a bid to reduce its debt.  Housebuilders, Barratt Developments, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey slid 1.2%, 1.4% and 1.7%, respectively, following a drop in UK’s mortgage approvals in February. Bucking the trend, Smiths Group advanced 2.9%, after the company posted a jump in its first half pre-tax profit due to some robust sales and profit from a disposal. The FTSE 100 declined 0.1%, to close at 7,336.8, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.1%, to settle at 18,980.4.

US Market Snapshot

US markets closed mostly in negative territory on Friday, after the House Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act after they were unable to secure enough votes to pass the bill. Finish Line sank 19.5%, after the retailer posted lower than expected profit for the fiscal fourth quarter as it offered heavy discounts to clear inventory. GameStop plunged 13.6%, after it announced that it would close at least 150 stores. On the positive side, Micron Technology soared 7.4%, after the company offered a robust third quarter outlook. SeaWorld Entertainment jumped 4.7%, after it stated that it would sell a 21.0% equity interest from certain funds affiliated with Blackstone Group, down 0.7%, to a unit of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group for $23.0 per share. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1%, to settle at 2,344.0. The DJIA shed 0.3%, to settle at 20,596.7, while the NASDAQ advanced 0.2%, to close at 5,828.7.

Europe Market Snapshot

Other European markets ended mostly lower on Friday, amid uncertainty over vote on Obamacare. Aegon tumbled 5.2%, after the insurer reduced its Solvency II ratio by 2.0% in its annual report. Other insurance firms, Baloise Holding and Swiss Life Holding slid 0.2% and 0.6%, respectively. Lenders, Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank dropped 0.6%, 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively. On the flipside, Bollore added 0.7%, after the company offered an option to the shareholders of Blue Solutions to sell their shares at a price of €17.0 per share. Merck KGaA advanced 1.7%, after the drugmaker received an approval from the US FDA for its Bavencio intravenous treatment. The FTSEurofirst 300 index declined 0.2%, to close at 1,484.5. Among other European markets, the German DAX Xetra 30 rose 0.2%, to close at 12,064.3, while the French CAC-40 shed 0.2%, to settle at 5,020.9.

Asia Market Snapshot

Markets in Asia are trading lower this morning, as failure of the US President, Donald Trump, to overhaul the US healthcare system raised doubts over his ability to implement his pro-growth policies. In Japan, Toshiba has tumbled 5.7%, after reports indicated that its US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, might file for bankruptcy and seek support from Korea Electric Power. Construction-machinery manufacturers, Hitachi Construction Machinery and Kubota have declined 1.8% and 2.8%, respectively. In Hong Kong, banking stocks, HSBC Holdings, China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have fallen 0.2%, 0.3% and 0.8%, respectively. In South Korea, index majors, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and POSCO have dropped 0.3%, 1.4% and 2.3%, respectively. The Nikkei 225 index is trading 1.5% lower at 18,970.8. The Hang Seng index is trading 0.2% down at 24,316.2, while the Kospi index is trading 0.5% lower at 2,157.7.

Key Corporate Announcements Today

Temple Bar Inv Trust, Toople
Final Dividend Payment Date
Aberdeen UK Tracker Trust
Interim Dividend Payment Date
Mountview Estates, Personal Group Holdings
Quarterly Payment Date
Royal Dutch Shell 'A', Royal Dutch Shell 'B', Tetragon Financial Group Limited

Key Corporate Announcements for Tomorrow
Chenavari Capital Solutions Limited Red, 7digital Group
Interim Dividend Payment Date
BHP Billiton
Trading Announcements
Thomas Cook Group, United Utilities Group

Key Economic News
OPEC and non-OPEC members considered extending oil output cut by 6 months
A joint committee of ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers are considering a review of whether a global pact to limit crude supplies should be extended by six months. Further, the OPEC Secretary General, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo encouraged all participating countries to ensure full conformity to individual production limits set under the producer group’s output deal last year. He added that total compliance to the agreement is expected to ease oversupply by mid-2017, with the market expected to rebalance towards the end of the year.

UK BBA mortgage approvals slid unexpectedly in February
BBA mortgage approvals registered an unexpected drop to 42.61 K in February, in the UK, lower than market expectations of an advance to a level of 44.90 K. BBA mortgage approvals had recorded a revised level of 44.14 K in the previous month.

Euro-zone services PMI advanced unexpectedly in March
In March, the preliminary services PMI advanced unexpectedly to a level of 56.50 in the Euro-zone, compared to a reading of 55.50 in the previous month. Markets were expecting services PMI to fall to a level of 55.30.

Euro-zone composite PMI surprisingly climbed in March
In March, the flash composite PMI climbed unexpectedly to 56.70 in the Euro-zone, higher than market expectations of a drop to 55.80. In the previous month, composite PMI had registered a reading of 56.00.

Euro-zone manufacturing PMI unexpectedly rose in March
In the Euro-zone, the preliminary manufacturing PMI rose unexpectedly to 56.20 in March, compared to a reading of 55.40 in the prior month. Market expectation was for the manufacturing PMI to ease to a level of 55.30.

German manufacturing PMI surprisingly advanced in March
The flash manufacturing PMI recorded an unexpected rise to 58.30 in March, in Germany, compared to a level of 56.80 in the prior month. Market anticipation was for manufacturing PMI to ease to a level of 56.50.

German services PMI advanced in March
In March, the flash services PMI recorded a rise to 55.60 in Germany, compared to a reading of 54.40 in the previous month. Markets were expecting services PMI to advance to 54.50.
French services PMI surprisingly climbed in March

In France, the preliminary services PMI rose unexpectedly to 58.50 in March, compared to market expectations of a drop to a level of 56.10. In the prior month, services PMI had recorded a reading of 56.40.

French GDP advanced less than expected in 4Q 2016
In 4Q 2016, on a YoY basis, the final gross domestic product (GDP) climbed 1.10% in France, lower than market expectations for a rise of 1.20%. The preliminary figures had indicated a rise of 1.20%. GDP had registered a revised rise of 0.90% in the previous quarter.

French manufacturing PMI rose in March
Compared to a reading of 52.20 in the previous month the preliminary manufacturing PMI registered a rise to 53.40 in France, in March. Markets were anticipating manufacturing PMI to advance to 52.40.

French GDP rose as expected in 4Q 2016
In 4Q 2016, on a quarterly basis, the final GDP in France climbed 0.40%, meeting market expectations. GDP had risen 0.20% in the previous quarter. The preliminary figures had also indicated a rise of 0.40%.

US durable goods orders rose more than expected in February
The preliminary durable goods orders advanced 1.70% in the US on a monthly basis in February, higher than market expectations for an advance of 1.40%. Durable goods orders had advanced 2.00% in the previous month.
US Markit manufacturing PMI surprisingly dropped in March
The flash Markit manufacturing PMI fell unexpectedly to 53.40 in the US, in March, lower than market expectations of a rise to 54.80. The Markit manufacturing PMI had registered a reading of 54.20 in the prior month.

US non-defence capital goods orders (ex aircraft unexpectedly dropped in February
The flash non-defence capital goods orders (ex aircraft) in the US unexpectedly fell 0.10% on a monthly basis in February, lower than market expectations for an advance of 0.50%. In the previous month, the non-defence capital goods orders (ex aircraft) had registered a similar fall.

US non-defence capital goods shipments (ex aircraft) advanced more than expected in February
In February, the flash non-defence capital goods shipments (ex aircraft) rose 1.00% on a monthly basis in the US, higher than market expectations for a rise of 0.20%. The non-defence capital goods shipments (ex aircraft) had recorded a drop of 0.40% in the prior month.

US durable goods orders (ex transportation) advanced less than expected in February
On a MoM basis, the flash durable goods orders (ex transportation) climbed 0.40% in February, in the US, lower than market expectations for a rise of 0.60%. In the previous month, durable goods orders (ex transportation) had registered a flat reading.

Canadian CPI rose as expected in February
The consumer price index (CPI) recorded a rise of 0.20% in Canada, on a monthly basis, at par with market expectations. The CPI had risen 0.90% in the prior month.

Canadian core CPI climbed in February
In February, on a monthly basis, the core CPI rose 0.40% in Canada. The core CPI had climbed 0.50% in the prior month.

Canadian core CPI advanced in February
The seasonally adjusted core CPI in Canada rose 0.20% on a monthly basis, in February. In the prior month, core CPI had advanced 0.40%.

Canadian CPI registered a rise in February
In February, the CPI in Canada climbed, on monthly basis, to a level of 129.70. In the previous month, the CPI had registered a reading of 129.50.

Canadian CPI recorded a drop in February
The seasonally adjusted CPI in Canada fell 0.20% on a monthly basis, in February. CPI had recorded a rise of 0.70% in the previous month.

Canadian core CPI climbed in February
On an annual basis, the core CPI advanced 1.60% in Canada, in February. The core CPI had recorded a rise of 1.70% in the prior month.

Canadian CPI rose less than expected in February
The CPI recorded a rise of 2.00% on an annual basis in February, in Canada, lower than market expectations for an advance of 2.10%. In the previous month, the CPI had risen 2.10%.

BoJ March Meeting Minutes indicated that the monetary policy would remain easy for some time
The Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) March meeting minutes indicated that easy monetary policy will be in place for some time as consumer price growth is still distant from the central bank's 2% inflation target.

Japanese coincident index slid in January
The final coincident index recorded a drop to 115.10 in Japan, in January. The coincident index had recorded a revised reading of 115.60 in the prior month. The preliminary figures had recorded a drop to 114.90.

Japanese corporate service price index advanced more than expected in February

The corporate service price index in Japan climbed 0.80% on a YoY basis in February, higher than market expectations for an advance of 0.50%. In the prior month, the corporate service price index had registered a rise of 0.50%.

Japanese leading economic index remained steady in January

The final leading economic index in Japan remained flat at 104.90 in January. The preliminary figures had indicated an advance to 105.50.


Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:36:00 +0100
Beaufort Securities Breakfast Alert: AFC Energy and IG Design Today's edition features:
• AFC Energy (LON:AFC)
• IG Design (LON:IGR)


A nervous opening is expected this morning as investors attempt to assess the impact of President Trump being forced to take his Bill designed to replace Obamacare off the table, as the White House was forced to admit defeat in its first legislative priority on Capitol Hill. The withdrawal came despite desperate, last minute calls to lawmakers in the House of Representatives, raising serious questions regarding his ability to unify Republicans sufficiently to keep his pro-growth reforms from tax to infrastructure spending on the road. Tensions will remain high, as Wednesday the Administration’s attention turns his proposals to build a border wall between Mexico and the US. And, if that is not enough to worry about, the same day this week will also focus on a historic event, Theresa May triggering Article 50 and, in so doing, kick-off two years of divorce negotiations with the European Union. Although the Healthcare Bill was not formally withdrawn until after the US markets closed on Friday, doubts over its ability to succeed had already led to volatility, with the S&P500 falling 1.4%, its worst weekly decline of the year. After starting on the upside, the country’s three principal indices closed mixed in anticipation of Friday, with the NASDAQ ending positive helped by Micron Technologies while elsewhere oils and financials met gentle selling. With the new week’s market openings led by Asia this morning, however, more selling was evident with all major regional bourses trading in the red, led by Japan dropping over 1.5%, hitting its lowest point since early February as US$ falls were reflected in almost a 1% spike in the Yen, as the Euro also raced to almost a four-month high. Chinese equities remained weak despite reports the nation’s Industrial Profits had grown 31.5% in January-February, leaving both the Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng nursing minor losses. Recent good macro and political news that has bolstered European sentiment, helping an oversold STOXX 600 outperform, will be boosted further this morning on news that German Chancellor Angela Merkl’s conservatives scored a clear victory in the small state of Saarland, knocking optimism amongst centre-left challengers that changes in national sentiment could force her from office at September’s Federal Election. There is no UK macro data due for release today, although the EU provides personal loans and M3 Money Supply for February, followed later in the afternoon with the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Business Index from the US. The Fed’s Charles Evans and FOMC’s Robert Kaplan are both also due to make speeches. London’s major financial news today will the Bank of England’s scenarios for the latest of its stress tests, this time for the Royal Bank of Scotland which fails at its previous assessment. Elsewhere, UK corporates scheduled to release earnings or trading updates only include second liners, such as Inspired Energy (LON:INSE), YouGov (LON:YOU), GLI Finance (LON:GLIF), and Gama Aviation (LON:GMAA). Traders will also be seeking more information following OPEC apparently warning its Members regarding compliance with agreed oil-production cuts, following recent media reports of widespread cheating. Light sweet crude for May delivery traded down again on the NYME, despite suggestions of a further, deeper production cut being considered by the Organisation, amid reports that nearly two dozen non-American producers may limit output during the second half. London equities will be sold down from the opening this morning, with the FTSE-100 seen falling over 55 points in early trading. "
- Barry Gibb, Research Analyst

The FTSE-100 finished Friday's session 0.05% lower at 7,336.82, whilst the FTSE AIM All-Share index added 0.03% to stand at 917.90. In continental Europe, the CAC-40 finished down 0.24% at 5,020.90 whilst the DAX was 0.20% higher at 12,064.27.
Wall Street
In New York on Friday night, the Dow Jones fell 0.29% to 20,596.72, the S&P 500 shed 0.08% to 2343.98 and the Nasdaq gained 0.19% to 5828.74.
In Asian markets this morning, the Nikkei 225 had fallen 1.45% to 18,982.39, while the Hang Seng lost 0.3% to 24,284.18.
In early trade today, WTI crude was down 0.02% to $46.78/bbl and Brent was down 0.3% to $49.70/bbl.

BT fined record £42m for late installations
BT has been hit with a record fine from telecoms regulator Ofcom and has set aside £300m to repay providers for delays in installing high-speed lines. Ofcom has issued the firm with a £42m fine, which it said was the largest it has ever handed down. It found BT's Openreach division had cut compensation payments to telecoms providers for delays in installing the lines between early 2013 and late 2014. Openreach said it "apologised wholeheartedly" for the mistakes. The investigation found BT had broken rules about its "significant market power" by cutting the payments. Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom's investigations director, said: "These high-speed lines are a vital part of this country's digital backbone. "We found BT broke our rules by failing to pay other telecoms companies proper compensation when these services were not provided on time. "The size of our fine reflects how important these rules are to protect competition and, ultimately, consumers and businesses."

Source: BBC News

Company news

AFC Energy (LON:AFC, 12.00p) – Speculative Buy
On Friday, the industrial fuel cell power company, announced its final results for the year ended 31 October 2016. The Group has developed and successfully demonstrated an alkaline fuel cell system, which converts hydrogen into ‘clean’ electricity. AFC Energy's key project POWER-UP demonstrated the world's largest operational alkaline fuel cell system at Air Products' industrial gas plant in Stade, Germany in January 2016. The Group is now looking to build upon an already established pipeline of commercial opportunities and drive the findings from the development phase of the technology into a technically optimised and commercially relevant fuel cell system. Annual revenues of £1m produced an operating loss of £6.3 million (down from 2015’s loss of £8.6 million). Having raised £3.6 million through placing and offer for subscription in January 2016, the period ended Cash reserves of £2.9 million (31 October 2015: £1.8 million). Highlights for FY2016 included the commissioning of AFC Energy's first industrial scale 240kW fuel cell system and sale of power at Stade, Germany; entry into Strategic Technology Collaboration with Industrie De Nora S.p.A. - one of the largest manufacturers of electrolysers, electrodes, coatings and electrochemical solutions; material improvement in fuel cell longevity and availability, and reduction of stack cost, through Generation 2 fuel cell development programme and; commencement of commercial fuel cell deployment and detailed discussions with several international power utilities, industrial groups and Government bodies. Post period, the Group raised a further £8.1 million before expenses through a placing, subscription and open offer to shareholders.

Our view: 2016 was an important year of consolidation for AFC, with material improvements not only in the fuel cell technology platform, but also in the dialogue with several key commercial and strategic partners for AFC Energy. The corporate value gained from AFC Energy's collaboration with De Nora, and the commencement of commercial project developments with Peel Environmental, are significant and position the Group for an accelerated programme of activities in 2017. During this period, its primary focus will remain the deployment of fuel cell systems in commercial opportunities. Development of this commercial pipeline, will see renewed emphasis on system and cartridge cost reductions to ensure the technology can operate in an increasingly competitive and efficient manner. To achieve this, management continue to review its supply chain and scope for recycling fuel cells, as well as opportunities to improve the design of key components and system engineering. The current year will also see focus on delivering commitments with key partners, including those under the Joint Development Agreement with De Nora where significant advancements in the fuel cell system continue to be made in anticipation of international deployments. Indeed, the AFC story has now moved from technical development and door opening for commercial opportunity, to that of revenue generation. The plunge in international energy prices that took place over two years ago, of course, took the wind out of AFC sails at a time when its operations were consuming significant cash. February’s discounted placing hit the share price further, but at least strengthened the balance sheet sufficiently to suggest the Group will be able to produce its first operating and pre-tax profits before needing to tap shareholders once again, but this time to scale up its operations in response to a good commercial pipeline. This substantially de-risks the investment and, although Beaufort sees this year and next remaining in losses, revenues should ramp to £12m or so during the year to October 2018E, followed by first positive earnings, something in excess of 1p/share the year after. AFC’s technology and forward opportunity is substantial and given balance sheet strength and momentum now being generated, Beaufort retains its Speculative Buy rating on the shares.

IG Design (LON:IGR, 305.00p) – Speculative Buy
IG Design Group, a leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of gift packaging, greetings, stationary and play products, on Friday provided its trading update for the full year ended 31 March 2017 (‘FY2017’). The Group said it now expect revenues to be at record level exceeding £300m, while both profit after tax and earnings per share “significantly” ahead of current market expectations, aided by increased profit, lower interest costs and a strong cash flow. Cash generation is “well ahead” of previously expected levels and therefore the Group will achieve its target annual leverage of less than 2.5x EBITDA, 2 years ahead of plan. IG Design’s CEO, Paul Fineman, commented “We are delighted with our performance in FY17, which will represent a record year for the Group on a number of metrics. A huge breadth of opportunity remains available for us and we have pleasing momentum for the year ahead. We are confident in our ability to drive growth both organically and through strategic acquisitions, and look forward to updating the market on our progress”.

Our view: IG Design greeted its investors yet again with reassurance that it is performing well and its full year results (expected around end-June 2017) are expected to be “significantly” ahead of the market expectations. In Americas, the Group said integration of The Lang Companies Inc. (‘Lang’) is progressing well with the realisation of synergies. Profit growth was particularly strong in the region and confirmed that momentum continued to be strong with “numerous opportunities” for further growth. In Australia (JV), amid more challenging market conditions, the Board expects its performance for FY2017 to be weaker. In response, the Group has invested to reposition itself in less commoditised product areas to focus on higher margin categories, which the Group expect to provide “good growth opportunities” for FY2018 and beyond. In UK, the Group said reorganisation and further integration of its 3 UK businesses (IG UK, SCOOP and ANKER) is already in progress, positioning well to provide enhanced product and service solutions across all categories and customer channels. In Continental Europe, the Group expanded its geographical footprint by focussing on growth retailers within the region, supporting its revenue and profit growth. The Group has already provided its upgraded full year dividend guidance of 4p per share (FY2016: 1.5p) at the interim result. The shares are valued at FY2017E and FY2018E P/E multiples of 19.0x and 17.3x along with dividend yields of 1.3% and 1.7%, respectively. Considering the successful acquisition of Lang, a highly complementary US-based supplier of quality gift and speciality products, on 11 July 2016, we believe its US divisions (FY2016 revenue stood at 40% of the Group) will drive further growth for the Group, while also benefitting from the positive effects of international currency translation. Although there appears to be a technical overhang from Miton Group, who has been progressively reducing its holdings to now below 16% and may act as a drag on the share price, in light of Group’s positive progress and confident outlook, Beaufort reiterates its Speculative Buy rating on the shares. The shares have performed extremely well with approximately +82% growth year-to-date.



Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:30:00 +0100
VSA Capital Market Movers - Independent Oil & Gas Independent Oil & Gas (LON:IOG)
Independent Oil & Gas  has updated the market on the Harvey and Elgood licences.

Firstly, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has continued licence P2085, which contains the Harvey discovery until 20 December 2017. If successfully appraised, this licence has the potential to be the largest gas discovery in IOG’s portfolio, with an internal P50 estimate of 113BCF. In order to extend the licence further IOG must commit to drill an appraisal well, which it expects to do later in 2017. If this licence can be successfully appraised IOG expects to tie it back to the same pipeline which it has signed an MoU to acquire. This pipeline will also be used to export gas from the Blythe and Vulcan Satellite hubs.

Secondly, technical work submitted by IOG in relation to the Elgood discovery has been accepted by the OGA and will be added to the Blythe Field Development Plan (FDP). This has an internal P50 estimate of 22BCF of recoverable gas.

Benchmark Prices
- Brent:   US$50.80/bbl +US$0.24/bbl
- WTI:   US$47.97/bbl +US$0.27/bbl
- Henry Hub:   US$3.08/MMBtu +US$0.02/MMBtu

Risers and Fallers (Last Close)
Risers Price Movement % Chg
Sirius Petroleum +0.09p +12.1%
Empyrean Energy +0.37p +11.5%
Serica Energy +1.50p +7.1%
Fallers Price Movement % Chg
Premier Oil -2.50p -3.8%
Urals Energy -0.38p -6.3%
Gulfsands Petroleum -0.75p -9.7%

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 08:28:00 +0100
Next was a small-cap once Sat, 25 Mar 2017 09:58:00 +0000 Storm of interest in Hurricane well ahead of drill results Sat, 25 Mar 2017 09:06:00 +0000 Miners wobble, but Trump dump yet to have serious impact Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:23:00 +0000 Commodities Week in a Minute: Diamond warming up, Microgold plus ACA, AAU, LOM & POLY Commodities

Diamonds and precious stones

Well, well, well, who woke up the sector?

A bit of action for investors to get their teeth into as some long awaited M&A chatter emerges with Dominion being the recipient of an unsolicited bid approach as well as De Beers taking ownership of the 50% of the retail operations it didn’t own from LVMH. There is some other chatter as well knocking about, but for today let’s just stick to what has been announced. “Boo” I hear you say!

Oh the fun and games from the >709ct diamond recovered in Sierra Leone is already starting. Credit Mr Smithson for sending over – I can’t say I am a regular reader to be honest.

Did you hear? The pink star (once the most expensive diamond in the world, well before the guy with the twitch realised he didn’t have $83m behind the sofa) is set to be auctioned again in April. Held in inventory at $72 million, it is fair to say that expectations of exceeding the current record for a pink diamond of $46.2 million, are high although I am not sure I can get the time off to bid for it, shame.

Precious metals

Not a bad week for the precious metals complex with bullion briefly ticking over the psychological $1,250/oz mark as the last of the March contracts expired, with quite a bit of volume in the options around that level.

Elsewhere palladium is increasingly looking like it wants to attain parity with platinum with the ratio down to 1.2, typically been around 1.5-2.0x.

The other interesting move was that of Sh..  phew, almost mispronounced that… Bitcoin as it now trades below £1,000 a thingydodah. Hmm could it really be down to Chinese regulators considering a rule that requires Bitcoin exchanges (>95% of all trades take place in/from China) to comply with current banking and money laundering regulations.

But wait, the digital news continues.

Digital gold? Never, I hear you cry. Well indeed, the digitisation of gold, or Microgold as the young’uns are calling it, is taking off as a means for the tech savvy to gain access to the yellow metal in China. Don’t believe me?

Cash for err… Microgold.

Here you are, and no, that is not a screen print of a gambling app. According to Tencent and ICBC, who are behind the digital Microgold packets, as they claim it will enable users to gift virtual bullion over a messaging app to their preferred recipient who then stores it in their own virtual vault. The price of the gold packet is then linked to the gold price and can be sold, exchanged or gifted on again however the user sees fit.

Apparently, during the last Lunar New Year period, WeChat users sent 70,000 Microgold packets worth just under 100 million Yuan ($14.51 million) across the platform and ICBC now expects over 300,000 new gold accounts to be opened as a result of the Tencent tie-up.


This could take re-gifting to a new level


Company announcements/news/meetings:

Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) (Moved to Under Review): Toss a coin time

After the announcement that the merger with Endeavour is now off, Acacia today provided an update on the implications arising from the Tanzanian Government's ban of copper/gold concentrate exports by confirming an average daily loss of revenue at Buly and Buzwagi of more than $1 million per day. Acacia retain sufficient capacity on site to continue production beyond the end of April, but the company has confirmed an assessment of this situation will take place before this point. Given the uncertainty from this directive and the inevitable impact on our forecasts, we place Acacia under review until clarity can be provided

I am genuinely worried about the fallout from this concentrate ban more than the failed merger to be honest and I cannot see Acacia coming out the other side of this unscathed. To be fair I don’t think the doomsday scenario will occur (Buly and Buzwagi closing), but the ultimate resolution will probably contain a commitment to the government for a smelter or an additional processing step to be implemented at each of the operations, as well as a possible change in the company’s advantageous taxation arrangements or a bit of both.

If sitting on a healthy profit from last year and some from 2017, yes stock is still up 22% in 2017, I would be thinking of banking a bit and waiting for some certainty to the investment case.


Ariana Resources* (LON:AAU) (Buy): Boom, production baby!

Ariana has today announced a successful start to gold and silver production at the Kiziltepe Mine as well as the conclusion to site inspections and receipt of the outstanding Operations Permit. We anticipate throughput rates and production levels will build significantly through Q2 2017 and the rest of the year. As previously noted, first production, in our view, provides a realistic catalyst for the market to reappraise Ariana as a production growth story. We thereby reiterate our Buy recommendation and 3.02p target price.

Ariana really can be one of those nice little names that just tick along, quietly adding throughput to a low cost production base through a very prospective exploration base. Conceptually, these guys have 100koz GE as a realistic production target over the longer term so keeping these on your watch list may not be the worst thing to do today.


Lucapa Diamond Co * (ASX:LOM) (Buy): Mothae JORC compliant resource published.

As promised by the company, Lucapa has today announced a maiden JORC resource estimate for the Mothae Kimberlite Diamond Project.

Highlights to the statement are as follows:

• JORC classified Indicated and Inferred Diamond Resource of 1.04 million carats at an average grade of 2.7cpht.

• Known recoveries of high-value Type IIa diamonds at Mothae contribute to an average modelled JORC diamond value of US$1,063/ct

• Potential for higher average US$ diamond prices highlighted, based on large diamond recoveries

• Mothae kimberlite pipe modelled to 500m depth – JORC resource calculated for first 300m only


Polymetal* (LON:POLY) (Buy): Nezhda partner sells stake to former CEO of Highland Gold

Just a quick comment on the announcement from Polyus Gold that it had sold its 82% stake in the Nezhda project to Mr Kulakov for $158 million. Polyus’ sale was not a major surprise given there has been some pressure to relinquish some of its projects from the government. It is important to note that this will not change the investment criteria for POLY, other than they now have until July 2017 (was April) to make an investment decision and increase their holding to 50% plus operatorship in what is one of the largest undeveloped resources in Russia.

It is also worth noting that Mr Kulakov has worked with POLY before, as the original partner to the company’s Mayskoye project.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:30:00 +0000
Oil price, SDX Energy, Lamprell, And finally... Oil price

Both crudes are likely to be down slightly on the week as the bears think they are winning the battle but the bulls still have more fire power. High inventories have spooked a touch but as warned before, it is often like that at this time of the year when it is sometimes better to look at product stocks which are drawing.

The key event is the meeting this weekend in Kuwait where all will be present from the Opec/Non-Opec team including the Saudi Minister and all the members of the monitoring group which is Kuwait, Algeria, Venezuela, Russia and Oman. They should, if all goes well, say that compliance is high and improving and that whilst they won’t make a decision about rollover until May, point out that it would all have otherwise been a waste of everybody’s time. Indeed, whilst nothing can be taken for granted, the sight of the downside should strike terror into their collective balance sheets.

SDX Energy

Results today from SDX are, given that they are pre-Circle and pre-raise, pretty meaningless but do make a good point as to how fast the company is moving and there is much exciting progress being made. As pointed out earlier in the week the South Disouq well is under way and looks for gas as well as oil and is virtually free for shareholders. Work continues on NW Gemsa as well as upgrades at Meseda, all part of the existing SDX story and of course there is a good deal of work to be done in Morocco as another part of the Circle deal. Today the shares are over 50p, a new high but deservedly so, they went into the bucket list for a good reason and have the scope to climb higher.


Results today from LAM were as expected awful, after a huge impairment figure of $180m hit an already weak number. Admittedly cost have been cut big time and there is $275m of cash in the balance sheet, in addition the yards are still busy, but take a look at the order book and bid pipeline and things still look fairly grim. The order book is $393m (740m) and the bid pipeline is $2.5bn ($5.4bn) and the jack up market is still worryingly quiet. Margins have suffered and the unadjusted number is 4.3% down from 10.3% although similar after adjustment.

Guidance for 2017 revenue, which is all we get, is down to the lower end of the $400-500m mark after $705m last year so unless business walks into the yard pdq then this year will not break any records. Readers know that I have been, and remain a big fan of LAM but with the current state of work and the Saudi project being only a pipe dream at the moment its quite a leap of faith to be too optimistic at this time. With the shares having doubled since the last results in September optimism, like elsewhere in the sector, has prevailed but at the moment I would want to see some pretty good additions to the order book for that price strength to continue.

And finally…

Football is World Cup qualifying this weekend and the best match maybe the ROI v Wales but Northern Ireland host Norway, Lithuania come to Wembley and Scotland welcome Slovenia.

F1 is back and with i’m told faster, noisier cars which will make it more fun and with new owners and team changes at least there will be some changes. No change so far in practice where Lewis is streets ahead may take some catching even by his new teammate.

I am drawn to MotoGP which also restarts this weekend in Qatar giving the ‘2 wheel nutters’ a chance to see their heroes. At the top of the list last year for us was Cal Crutchlow who I am told is the new Barry Sheene and on the LCR Honda whilst Bradley Smith on the KTM and Sam Lowes who steps up from Moto2 is on the Aprilia. Favourite may be Jorge Lorenzo having switched to Ducati, but Valentino Rossi, older but not out of it, may fight with new team mate Maverick Vinales but in the end Marc Marquez, last year’s winner will start favourite…

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:57:00 +0000
Today's Market View - Ariana Resources plc, Acacia Mining, China Africa Resources, Lucapa Diamond Company, Medusa Mining Limited, Golden Star Resources Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) - Update on Tanzania’s concentrate export ban

Ariana Resources (LON:AAU) – First gold-pour at Kiziltepe

China Africa Resources) (LON:CAF) – name change to Pembridge Resources delayed due to technical legal issues

Golden Star Resources (TSE:GSC) – Stepping up the 2017 exploration programme

Lucapa Diamonds (ASX:LOM) –Mothae resource estimate

Medusa Mining (ASX:MML) – Fatality at Co-O gold mine


Gold is set to post a second weekly increase amid uncertainty over the ability of the Trump administration to deliver promised pro-growth reforms and a gradual US monetary policy tightening.

• US Congress gets ready to vote on the new administration regulation to repeal Obamacare later today.

• Concerns on the ability of the government to pass its promised changes to business tax rates through Congress contributed to a 1.4% drop in the S&P 500 Index this week.

• Euro climbs against the US$ on the back of better than expected manufacturing and services sectors’ growth numbers in France and Germany.

• Copper is flat while miners at Escondida agreed to stop the strike following a 43-day stand off.

• Although the dispute remains ongoing since no resolution to miners’ demands have been reached with workers agreeing to resume operations under the old contract for 18 months before a new round of talks planned for next year.

• “The working environment will be affected. We are talking about 18 quite bad months and that would affect everything, including production,” Escondida Corporate Affairs VP said.

• Brent is on course for a third weekly decline this month on the back of reports showing record US crude supplies and ahead of results of meeting between OPEC and other oil producers this weekend.

• Iron ore futures prices are in the correction mode with most traded contracts on the Dalian Commodity Exchange down 19% this week and steel rebar prices in Shanghai falling 12%.


Lithium ETF – Global X Lithium RTF up 10.5% YTD 32% yoy

• Global X’s lithium ETF which is based on a basket of Lithium equities has risen 10% YTD.

• The ETF is said to track a diversified group of companies involved in the ‘full lithium cycle’.

• The ETF is made up of 22% FMC, 15% SQM, 6% Samsung SDI co., 5% Tesla, 5% Albemarle, 5% LG Chem, 5% Enersys, 5% GS Yuasa, 4% Simelo Technology, 4% Panasonic, 4% Glaaxy resources.

• We wonder if anyone is working on a Lithium metal ETF where we would expect to greater gains?

• Key lithium explorers and potential mine developers have posted stronger gains over the period supported by interest from lithium traders and other producers.


Argentina Government announces $880m investment in 50,000tpa of new lithium carbonate production

• A government statement indicates that Enirgi is to invest $730m and Orocobre $160m in two projects in Argentina.

• Enirgi which owns the Salar de Rincon 2017 reported results from a positive feasibility study last year

• Orocobre is planning to increase lithium carbonate production to 35,000tpa by CY18 from a run rate of around 12,000-12,500tpa currently, though the company seems more focussed on reporting its VAT recovery from the Argentine government than announcing new investment.  

• Orocobre produced 6,542t of lithium carbonate ‘LCE’ in H1 FY17 up 309% yoy.

• Argentina currently produces 29,000tpa of lithium carbonate representing around 16% of global supply (USGS, 186,000LCE equivalent).

• Argentina might want to put out positive news to offset an unconfirmed rumour relating to potential disappointment relating on a POSCO funded project.  We believe the POSCO supported project is using a new technology for extracting lithium from brines without using evaporation ponds.  The technology might not be working as well as was first envisaged.

• The news suggests to us that Argentina is increasingly open for business from a Mining perspective and is looking to encourage very significant development within its lithium industry.


Ukraine bans Russian singer from entering Ukraine for Eurovision Song Contest

• Having watched the partisan voting at Eurovision for many years we suspect Julia Samoilova will still have a good chance of winning even if she doesn’t get to sing.


Dow Jones Industrials  -0.02% at 20,657 

Nikkei 225  +0.93% at 19,263 

HK Hang Seng  +0.10% at 24,351 

Shanghai Composite  +0.64% at 3,269 

FTSE 350 Mining  +0.48% at 15,959

AIM Basic Resources  -0.49% at 2,584 



US – Unemployment claims picked up last week; although, a smoothed 4-week average continues to hover around the lowest in decades.


Germany – A good set of manufacturing and services PMIs are out showing a broad based growth in production in Mar.

• The Composite PMI hit the strongest level in nearly six years with services and manufacturing indices at their highest in 15 and 71 months, respectively.

• “The Mar PMI survey data also signalled a near-record rate of employment growth and the strongest cost pressures for nearly six years.”

• New orders grew at the strongest pace since Apr/11 with manufacturing export orders posting strong increases on solid demand from the US, the UK, Asia and the Middle East.

• Strong increases in input prices were partially passed on to consumers with final goods prices recording the strongest increase since Jun/11.

• Business outlook remains strong.

• Markit Manufacturing PMI: 56.2 v 55.4 in Feb and 55.3 forecast.

• Markit Services PMI: 56.5 v 55.5 in Feb and 55.3 forecast.

• Markit Composite PMI: 56.7 v 56.0 in Feb and 55.8 forecast.


France – Both manufacturing and services industries picked up in Mar with the composite PMI at the highest in 70 months.

• Production growth was accompanied by a ninth consecutive increase in new orders this month.

• Business outstanding has also climbed for the thirteenth time with the growth pace accelerating to the highest in six years.

• Strong business activity lead firms to step up hiring while rising input price saw an increase in average selling prices for the first time since Apr/12.

• Input prices growth pace eased marginally from Feb’s 68-month high “but remained sharp nonetheless”.

• Upcoming presidential elections did little to challenge business optimism with the outlook reported to have improved to the strongest in five years.

• “There is also further evidence that the weakened euro is continuing to boost external demand.”

• Markit Manufacturing PMI: 53.4 v 52.2 in Feb and 52.4 forecast.

• Markit Services PMI: 58.5 v 56.4 in Feb and 56.1 forecast.

• Markit Composite PMI: 57.6 v 55.9 in Feb and 55.8 forecast.



US$1.0786/eur vs 1.0785/eur yesterday.   Yen 111.26/$ vs 111.17/$.   SAr 12.499/$ vs 12.551/$.   $1.249/gbp vs $1.249/gbp.

0.761/aud vs 0.764/aud.   CNY 6.891/$ vs 6.888/$.


Commodity News

Precious metals:         

Gold US$1,242/oz vs US$1,248/oz yesterday

   Gold ETFs 58.7moz vs US$58.6moz yesterday

Platinum US$957/oz vs US$972/oz yesterday

Palladium US$803/oz vs US$786/oz yesterday

Silver US$17.56/oz vs US$17.57/oz yesterday


Base metals:   

Copper US$ 5,818/t vs US$5,745/t yesterday

Aluminium US$ 1,931/t vs US$1,926/t yesterday

Nickel US$ 9,955/t vs US$9,990/t yesterday

Zinc US$ 2,830/t vs US$2,825/t yesterday

Lead US$ 2,358/t vs US$2,280/t yesterday

Tin US$ 20,205/t vs US$20,315/t yesterday



Oil US$50.6/bbl vs US$50.7/bbl yesterday

Natural Gas US$3.037/mmbtu vs US$3.072/mmbtu yesterday

Uranium US$25.15/lb vs US$25.40/lb yesterday



Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$83.2/t vs US$83.8/t

Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$567.5/t vs US$573.3/t

Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$63.0/t vs US$61.8/t yesterday

Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$150.4/t vs US$153.3/t



Tunsgten APT European US$208-216/mtu (from the 17Mar week) v US$212-217/mtu (from the 10Mar week)


Company News

Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) 458 pence, Mkt Cap £1.9bn –Update on Tanzania’s concentrate export ban

• Acacia Mining reports that despite talks with Government and others in an effort to lift the ban on the export of gold/copper concentrates from Tanzania, “To date there has not yet been a change in the situation.”

• The ban was first announced by Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals on 3rd March and we note that on 21st March, Acacia announced that the preliminary discussions on a combination with Endeavour Mining first disclosed on 13th January, had been terminated. We wonder whether the export ban had any influence on the breakdown of these negotiations.

• The company points out that its Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines are continuing to operate as normal and currently the company is able to store gold/copper concentrates in containers on site. However, although capacity is available through April, “prior to reaching this point, during April we will reassess how long we can continue to produce as normal if the ban remains in place and what other measures may be necessary.”

• Underlining its stance as a long term investor in Tanzania, the company points out that “we have offered to support and partner with the Government in a new study by third party experts to assess the economic potential of building a smelter in Tanzania capable of processing our concentrate.”

• The company also stresses that the effect of the ban on Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi is a daily revenue loss exceeding US$1m.

• Conclusion: The impasse over the export of concentrates is affecting two of Acacia’s three mines in Tanzania. The mounting daily revenue losses and the filling up of on-site concentrate storage capacity add to the pressure for a speedy resolution as, we assume that at some point the company will be forced to consider suspending operations.


Ariana Resources (LON:AAU) 2p, Mkt Cap £18m – First gold-pour at Kiziltepe

• Ariana Resources has announced that it has made its first gold pour at its new, 50% owned, Kiziltepe mine in Turkey.

• The first gold-silver dore bar weighed 5.25kg and is estimated to contain gold:silver in a ratio of approximately 1:10.

• The mine is planned to produce at a rate of approximately 20,000 oz pa over a period of 8 years with production “expected ramp up over the coming weeks and through Q2 2017.”

• Initially, cash flow from the operation will be used to repay project loans “on a pre-determined schedule” – “Major loan repayments will have been completed by April 2020 and, during this time, excess cash-flow from the operation will be used to make repayments of loans provided by Ariana and Proccea jointly to the JV for exploration and development respectively.”

• “After the repayment of all loans, profits from the operation will be shared on a 51:49 basis between Ariana and Proccea respectively.”

• Ariana Resources also reports that following “Final statutory inspections and technical approvals received … the mine site has been issued with an Operations Permit.”

• Conclusion: Ariana’s first gold pour represents the culmination of an exploration and development programme which has, at times seemed protracted and has, no doubt required considerable determination from the project team. We endorse Managing Director, Kerim Sener’s comments commending “the significant contribution of the joint venture team on site and the support given by the local community and the Turkish Government [as well as] our long term shareholders who have remained committed to our vision and who have steadfastly supported our progress.”


China Africa Resources) (LON:CAF) 2.5p, mkt cap £2m – name change to Pembridge Resources delayed due to technical legal issues

• We are not sure what technical legal issues are?  Are they technical issues relating legal stuff or legal issues relating to technical stuff?

• The company is now classed as a Rule 15 Cash Shell seeking a reverse takeover transaction primarily focussed on the energy metals and minerals sector.

• Lithium assets to cashier no3. please!


Golden Star Resources (TSE:GSC) C$1.1, Mkt Cap C$403m – Stepping up the 2017 exploration programme

• Golden Star Resources has announced a substantial increase in its 2017 exploration budget raising the planned expenditure to US$6.5m from the earlier guidance of US$2.4m. The increased funds are available following the C$30m fund raising completed in February.

• The new 47,580m drilling programme includes 21,480m at a cost of US$2.5m at the Prestea underground operation, 9,100m (US$0.4m) to follow up on the Prestea open pits and the Mampon and nearby Aboronye deposits and 17,000m (US$3.6m) for additional work at the Wassa underground mine.

• Drilling at the two operating mines at Prestea and Wassa is directed to fulfilling three objectives; firstly to increase the ore available as short term feed to the plants; secondly to expand the medium term resource potential; and thirdly to investigate longer term expansion potential.

• At the Prestea underground mine drilling to extend and more closely define the West Reef mineralisation has “the objective of assessing the opportunity to increase the supply of high grade, underground ore to the processing plant in the near term” is already underway while “initial testing of the Main Reef between 17 and 21 Levels; an area whch has not been drilled before by the Company” aims to “evaluate the potential to include ore from the Main Reef into the mine plan in the medium term”.

• Longer term targets at Prestea include surface drilling of the 2km long part “of the Ashanti Gold Belt located on the extreme southern end of the nine kilometre area of historical Prestea Underground workings, between the Bondaye and Tuapim shafts.” with the aim of extending life of the Prestea underground mine.

• The company is also planning 9100m of drilling to assess the possible expansion of the mineralisation at Mampon which is due to be mined during the first 3 quarters of 2017 as feed for the Prestea Plant.

• At the Wassa underground mine, testing extensions to the “B Shoot” mineralisation is expected to start during Q2 in order to assess the “potential to increase near term production from the mine.” “Secondly, step out fences will be drilled with the objective of ascertaining if the B Shoot is continuous to the South, down plunge of the current Inferred Mineral Resources”

• Also at Wassa, 4000m of drilling is to be allocated to test the potential to mine ore underground from the “242 Trend” and extending the inferred resource of this block of mineralisation previously mined from the Wassa Main Pit.

• Although it is clear that Golden Star has recognised that expansion of resources close to its existing processing plants and underground mine infrastructure at its existing mines offers it the most cost effective use of its exploration funds, it also “plans to compile existing geophysical, geochemical and geological information on these land packages and engage in a process of target generation and prioritization” over its wider 1156 square kilometres exploration land holding in Ghana.

• The Company notes that it “expects to release the results received from the various drilling programs during the second, third and fourth quarters of 2017.  The Company anticipates that funds will be allocated for additional drilling, subject to positive drilling results.”

Conclusion: Golden Star is significantly increasing its 2017 exploration budget and applying a disciplined approach to its exploration programme in order to enhance its short to medium term feedstock, identify additional inferred resources and look for longer term opportunities to extend the life of its mines. We look forward to news on the results as the programme is implemented


Lucapa Diamonds (ASX:LOM) A$0.4, Mkt Cap A$124m –Mothae resource estimate

• Lucapa Diamonds has released a JORC compliant resource estimate for the Mothae kimberlite pipe in Lesotho. Mothae is located approximately 5km from Gem Diamonds’ Leseng mine.

• The resource estimate, prepared by the Johannesburg based consulting company, MSA Group, reports an indicated and inferred resource of 38.96m tonnes at an average grade of 2.7 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht) containing a total of 1.04m carats to a depth of 300m. “MSA has modelled the Mothae kimberlite to a total depth of 500,m below surface, corresponding to a total estimated 77.4million tonnes.”

• Indicated resources amount to 2.39m tonnes at an average grade of 3.0cpht with the balance of 36.57mt at a grade of 2.7cpht classified as inferred.

• The resource estimate assigns an average value of US$1,063 per carat which the company ascribes to the presence of high value Type IIa diamonds.

Conclusion: The bulk of the Mothae resource is currently classified as inferred and there will no doubt be further exploration required to upgrade the resource. The high estimated diamond value per carat and its proximity to  the established  Letseng operation leads us to look forward to further news as the exploration progresses.


Medusa Mining (ASX:MML) A$0.37, Mkt Cap A$76m – Fatality at Co-O gold mine

• Medusa Mining report a fatality at the Co-O gold mine I Mindanou, Philippines.

• The Co-O gold mine has been undergoing a very substantial increase in its scale and underground development.

• “The incident occurred at the start of dayshift on Level 8, where two contract miners were assigned to extend the timber support in a raise that was approximately 6 metres above the main track level. The prelimnary investigation indicates that one miner accessed the work area above the level while the second miner was assembling the work tools on the main track drift a few meters away. The second miner heard a loud noise and immediately returned to the work area to find his work partner on the track level unconscious.”

• The statement indicates to us that the worker fell down the raise suggesting that the worker was either not attached to a safety line or the mine’s processes need upgrading.

• The mine is using a traditional shrinkage stopping method which is well tried and considered appropriate for this type of mineralisation.

• This is the fourth fatality since 2013 by our reckoning.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:43:00 +0000
Breakfast News - AIM Breakfast : Concurrent Technologies, Centralnic Group PLC, Creo Medical Group PLC, Coral Products, Digital Barriers, Eurasia Mining plc, EasyHotel, International Greetings plc, Robinson PLC What’s cooking in the IPO kitchen?

Eddie Stobart Logistics—Intention to float on AIM. Intends to float in April. 49% held by Stobart Group (STOB.L)

K3 Capital Group—Schedule 1 from the Group of business and company sales specialists across business transfer, business brokerage and corporate finance. Admission date and fundraise details TBC.

Integumen— Schedule 1 from the personal health company developing and commercialising technology and products for the human integumentary system. Raising £2.16m at 5p. Expected market cap £8.16m. Admission expected 5 April.

BioPharma Credit—Expected Gross Initial Acquisition Proceeds now c.$338m. Gross Cash Proceeds capped at $423m with placing and open offer. Results expected 23 March with admission  now due 30 march.

Tufton Oceanic Assets- The Company intends to invest in a diversified portfolio of second hand commercial sea-going vessels where the Investment Manager believes that an attractive opportunity exists in shipping. $150m raise. Admission 3 April.

Breakfast buffet

Eurasia Mining (LON:EUA) 0.52p £8.02m

Company update.  Production work has commenced at the Malaya Sosnovka Area within the West Kytlim Alluvial Platinum and Gold Mine. An increase in the reserves for the Malaya Sosnovka area has also been submitted for approval.

First review and additional information has been completed by the Reserves Committee assessing the Feasibility Study and Reserves Report for Monchetundra in Kola.

Discussions on project finance underway for the Semenovsky Tailings and exclusivity period extended.

CentralNic Group (LON:CNIC) 46.75p £44.83m

Response to press speculation from the internet platform business which derives revenues from the global sale of domain names and associated services. The Company has a stated strategy to execute acquisitions where these meet the Group's strategic criteria.  In line with this strategy, CentralNic can confirm that it is in discussions with SK-NIC, a.s., the registry service provider for the .sk country code top level domain for Slovakia, however these discussions have not been concluded and the potential transaction remains in the course of negotiation. The discussions may or may not lead to an acquisition of the SK-NIC, a.s. business or a commercial relationship between the companies. FYDec16E rev £22.15m and EPS of 3.55p.

Digital Barriers (LON:DGB) 31p £51.19m

FYMar17 trading update from the specialist provider of visually intelligent solutions to the global surveillance, security and safety markets. Momentum in the business is strong and although sales cycles have shortened the Group is currently in the latter stages of securing a number of material solutions sales and framework contracts, all of which it had expected would be secured prior to 31 March. Whilst the Group currently expects to secure all of these awards, it has now become clear that some or all of them may now be secured in the next financial year.  If none of the awards are signed before the end of March, there is expected to be a shortfall of approximately £10m on revenue for the year ending 31 March 2017 compared to current market forecasts.  FYMar17E rev of £38.8m and pre-tax loss of £4m.

Creo Medical Group (LON:CREO) 81.5p £653.78m

The medical device company focused on the emerging field of surgical endoscopy, announced that the Company's Speedboat RS2 has received CE Mark approval for microwave energy to add to the device's previously awarded CE Mark for radiofrequency.  In clinical studies, the Speedboat RS2 successfully demonstrated safety and efficacy of the application of microwave energy to coagulate bleeds in the colon in 30 patients and represents the first device to use microwave energy in combination with radiofrequency.  The study publication has been accepted for Digestive Disease Week® the world's largest medical meeting of physicians, researchers and industry in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

IG Design Group (LON:IGR) 264.5p £165.69m

Trading update (FYMar17) from the designers, innovators and manufacturers of celebrations, gifting, stationery and creative play products. Group revenues are now expected to achieve record levels - exceeding £300m; Profitability expected to be ahead of current market expectations; Cash generation is well ahead of previously expected levels and such that the Board's target of average annual leverage at less than 2.5x EBITDA will be achieved for the year ended 31 March 2017 - two years ahead of plan. FYMar17E rev of £295.6m and PBT of £14.5m. PE of 1.6x and yield of 1.5%.

Coral Products (LON:CRU) 13.25p £10.95m

Completion of  purchase of assets of ICM Ltd from its Administrators for a Total consideration of circa £600k. Includes various injection moulding machines some with robot handling, chillers, mixers and cranage. The assets will improve utilisation at the Haydock facility.  “Following a rigorous selection process our Haydock facility has been approved by two major multinational tier one automotive system suppliers to supply a number of components.  Whilst volumes are not yet formalised we confidently expect this to lead to substantial new business throughout our next financial year. In addition, our recently announced bakery tray business is expected to increase substantially in the same period. “  FYApr17E rev £24.5m, EPS 2.3p.

Frontier Smart Technologies (LON:FST) 86.5p £34.96m

FYDec16 results from the pioneer in technologies for Digital Radio and Smart Audio devices. EBITDA ahead of market expectations, turning positive at £0.7 million (FY 2015: loss1 £0.8 million). Steady revenues of £32.1 million (FY 2015: £31.7 million). Cash of £3.4m. The outlook for 2017 is healthy and the Board expects revenues and EBITDA to improve this year. Digital Radio revenues are benefitting from the continued international uptake of DAB radio.  In January 2017, Norway became the first country to start the switch-off of its FM broadcasts, which has contributed to increased demand in the opening months of this year.  Smart Audio revenues should return to growth in 2017 following the release of the Group's new solution at the end of 2016.

Robinson (LON:RBN) 133.5p £21.89m

FYDec16 results from the custom manufacturer of plastic and paperboard packaging. Revenue down 6% to £27.5m - £0.8m increase due to foreign exchange movements -Volumes down 8%. Operating profit pre- exceptional items £1.4m (2015: £2.4m). Final Madrox earn out paid (£4.3m). Net debt £4.9m. Held final divi at 3p. “The general economic conditions suggest another challenging year ahead with continued pressure on consumer product brands and the UK retail sector. Continued investment in both personnel and equipment are leading to significant additional expenditure in 2017, justified by new business, some of which is already coming on stream. We remain on track to deliver revenue growth in 2017. “

easyHotel (LON:EZH) 101.5p £86.43m

Trading update for 5 months to 28 Feb 2017. Slightly above Board’s expectations. Owned hotels once again materially outperformed their competitive set during the period, whilst the overall UK hotel market improved year on year. This performance was mainly driven by strong owned hotel like-for-like revenue growth of 19% for the five months to 28 February 2017 compared with the same period last year, as the Group continues to benefit from the revenue strategy announced in December 2015. easyHotel's total committed development projects currently have 1,748 rooms under development, 716 of which are owned and 1,032 are being developed by franchise partners. 

Concurrent Technologies (LON:CNC) 58p £42.18m

FYDec16 results from the  specialist in the design and manufacture of high-end embedded computer boards for critical applications.  Turnover of £16.4m (2015: £17.1m). Gross profit increased by 3.0% to £8.9m (2015: £8.6m). EBITDA increased by 3.2% to £4.3m (2015: £4.2m). £7.8m cash. Total divi for year of 2.1p from 1.9p. “Sales and new interest in our products and services arising this year have been encouraging and our current healthy order book gives us confidence in our performance for 2017." There are no market forecasts.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:08:00 +0000
In the Papers - Starbucks, Emirates, Virgin, BT Newspaper Summary

The Times

Inflation doesn’t mean rate rise, Bank Chief says: A doveish member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee said a rise in inflation would not make him consider raising interest rates.

Clashes ‘put U.K. at risk from money launderers’: Britain is dangerously exposed to money launderers as investigators are failing to work with other agencies to gather evidence against foreign criminals, a think tank has claimed.

Businesses paid to cut energy at peak times: Businesses that agree to cut energy use when national supplies are running low will receive subsidies six times higher than plants that guarantee to provide power.

De Beers cuts partner out of diamond stores: The world’s leading diamond specialist has taken full ownership of its retail business after buying out its partner to boost its high street presence.

Homebuyers ‘priced out of market’ in key cities: House price inflation in some of Britain’s largest cities is beginning to “run out of steam” as growing numbers of potential buyers cannot afford the asking prices, according to a property analyst.

Ford warns of profits fall as result of spluttering demand: Ford warned that its full-year profit would be $1.4 billion less this year than last year as it forecast a substantial hit to its bottom line in the first quarter.

Rockhopper sues Italy over oil field ban: Rockhopper Exploration is fighting for compensation from Italy after it banned offshore drilling, leaving the company unable to develop one of its oil and gas fields.

Weak pound gives brewer a headache: Adnams brewed up record beer sales last year as volumes passed the 100,000 barrels mark for the first time in the Southwold brewer’s 145-years.

Back to work at world’s biggest copper mine: Workers at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile said they would present their decision to the government and return to work. A swift restart of Escondida, which produced about 5% of the world’s copper last year, may bring some relief to the Chilean economy but there was little immediate effect on copper prices.

The Independent

CEO uses ‘snowflake’ test when hiring to avoid ‘whiny millennials’: A U.S. company has introduced a “snowflake test” to weed out overly sensitive, liberal candidates who are too easily offended.

State pension age could rise to 70: Millions of young people could face having to work an extra year before being able to draw a state pension, according to two separate reports.

Eurogroup head accused of racist and sexist comments pressured to quit: Jeroen Dijsselbloem faced pressure to resign as head of the euro area’s finance Ministers after comments he made on the obligations of aid-receiving countries were seen as both offensive and widening the north-south divide in Europe.

Data points to peak in immigration of European Union workers: Signs are growing that inflows of European Union workers to the U.K. have peaked, just as Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 to commence the Brexit divorce process.

U.K. homes could see energy bills increase by up to £445 per year: Homes across the U.K. could see their energy bills increase by up to £445 a year as a result of fixed-rate deals offered by 10 popular providers expiring.

Richard Branson writes emotional farewell letter to Virgin America: Sir Richard Branson has written a heartfelt farewell letter to Virgin America after owner Alaska Airlines said it would soon stop using the Virgin brand.

The Daily Telegraph

Ithaca Energy Boss backs Delek takeover after $54 million loss: The Boss of North Sea takeover target Ithaca Energy has reasserted his backing for the £517 million cash bid from the group’s largest shareholder after reporting a £54 million loss for last year.

AkzoNobel shareholders turn up the heat on Dulux owner over rejected PPG takeover bid: AkzoNobel’s largest shareholder has increased the pressure on the Dulux and Polyfilla owner to enter takeover talks with American rival PPG Industries.

Blue Inc creditors approve store rescue plan: Creditors for struggling retailer Blue Inc have approved a plan to stage payments for rent arrears and write off some of the company’s debt in a bid to keep the stores trading.

Clampdown on big winners boosts gaming business GVC: A crackdown on big-ticket gamblers who were winning huge amounts of cash has helped improve the performance at online gaming business GVC.

Northern Powerhouse fires up as house prices in Manchester rise faster than any other U.K. city: Manchester has sped ahead of southern rivals, recording the fastest house price growth of any city in the U.K. Homes in the capital of the Northern Powerhouse increased in value by 8.8% over the past 12 months, according to Hometrack.

Robots will take a third of British jobs by 2030, report says: A third of existing British jobs are at risk of being taken over by robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) within 15 years, a report reveals.

City regulator reopens probe into Qatar’s crisis-era rescue of Barclays: Barclays faces renewed scrutiny of its emergency fundraising during the financial crisis after the City regulator reopened its investigation into the bank’s cash call with Qatar.

The Questor Column:

Anthony Bolton’s old trust has doubled in three years but the discount is still 14%: Investors in the Fidelity China Special Situations trust have experienced plenty of drama over the portfolio’s short history. Its listing in 2010 attracted a blaze of publicity because the trust was managed by Anthony Bolton, who had made investors in his Fidelity Special Situations fund rich with annual returns of about 19%. His successor, Dale Nicholls, has had a happier time: under his stewardship the share price has roughly doubled. Despite this strong performance, the trust was trading at a discount of 14%. The portfolio seems well positioned to avoid the fallout from any trade war between China and America, which has been feared as a result of Donald Trump’s protectionist leanings. The fund is heavily focused on domestic companies, with the portfolio’s stocks making 82.5% of their revenues within China and only 2% in the U.S. Growth is still strong, although slowing: the latest official prediction is for economic output to grow at an annual rate of about 6.5%. The portfolio is well diversified, with about 150 holdings, although the top 10 account for 42% of assets. Up to 10% of the fund can be held in unquoted stocks. The annual “ongoing” charge, 1.22%, does not seem excessive for a specialist fund such as this. Questor says ‘Buy’.

The Guardian

U.K. retail sales shrug off Brexit fears with February rise: Britain’s retailers received a respite from a two-month losing streak when spending in high street stores and online bounced back in February.

1,100 Jones Bootmaker jobs at risk as private equity deal collapses: Jones Bootmaker is expected to call in administrators on Friday in a move that will put more than 1,100 jobs at risk. The shoe retailer, which employs 1,145 people, has nearly 100 stores and a handful of concessions in department stores. It is understood to be close to collapse after a deal with a private equity firm collapsed.

Housebuilder’s investors reject Executive pay deal in 2017’s first revolt: Shareholders in Crest Nicholson, one of the largest housebuilders in Britain, have voted against a pay deal for the company’s Directors because of concerns that the performance targets were too easy.

Brexit could damage U.K.’s fight against corruption, says OECD: Brexit could damage the U.K.’s efforts to tackle corruption and give multinationals leverage over the British government in bribery cases, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.

YouTube and Google boycott spreads to U.S. as AT&T and Verizon pull ads: The growing advertiser boycott of YouTube has reached the U.S., with AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and Enterprise all halting adverts on the site, as well as Google’s wider ad networks, over the video-sharing site’s inability to guarantee promotional messages won’t appear alongside extremist content.

Daily Mail

Next suffers first fall in profits since 2008 as it battles against online rivals, subdued shoppers and the slump in the pound: High street retailer Next suffered its first profit fall for eight years in 2016 and has warned that 2017 is set to be ‘another tough year.’ With inflation rising and wages stagnating, shoppers were spending less on clothing last year and the group’s underlying pre-tax profits fell 3.8% to £790.2 million.

FTSE 100 ekes out small gain on a big day for British retailers, while Trump seeks to overturn Obamacare: London shares ticked marginally higher, in a session dominated by retail and President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill.

New tax rules set to hit thousands of public sector contract workers: Around 26,000 public sector contractors, including NHS staff, social and care workers, are facing an income drop of up to 20% next month.

Number of landlords planning to sell up doubles since the buy-to-let crackdown was announced - and experts warn renters will suffer: Rising numbers of landlords are planning to abandon the buy-to-let market, prompting fears that rents will spiral up as the number of properties available to rent falls.

Daily Express

Deutsche Bank won’t leave City with new London HQ: Deutsche Bank has kept its faith in the City being the hub of European banking with plans for a new London HQ.

EUR soft on ECB inflation claims despite above-forecast consumer confidence: Newly-released consumer confidence data has failed to soothe investor fears that the ECB will stand firm on its ultra-loose monetary policy.

GBP rises after U.K. February retail sales growth bounds over forecasts: The pace of U.K. retail sales picked up significantly in February, outpacing economists’ already-strong predictions.

RBS and NatWest to close 158 branches and cut 470 jobs: Taxpayer-backed NatWest and RBS are closing 158 branches and axing hundreds of jobs, blaming a rise in online and mobile banking.

Crucial vote on Trump healthcare bill could trigger crash: Nervous investors are braced for U.S. lawmakers to vote on Donald Trump’s healthcare plans, amid fears a defeated bill could spark panic and sends stocks crashing.

Saudi Arabia’s credit rating cut as low oil prices crumble Middle East nation’s economy: Saudi Arabia’s economic woes have worsened after a top rating agency downgraded its credit rating and said plans to save the economy look set to fail.

The Scottish Herald

Growth in Scotland will lag U.K., forecaster says: Economic growth in Scotland will trail that in the U.K. as a whole this year and in 2018, partly because of a drag resulting from oil and gas sector weakness, PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast.

Giants to hunt for oil and gas off Hebrides: Oil majors have shown confidence in the exploration potential of the frontier territory off the Hebrides and Shetland in spite of the prospect of a long period of low oil prices.

Kier warns of construction slowdown as profits rise: The Boss of Kier Group’s construction division in Scotland has signalled there is an expectation across the industry that activity will slow down in the coming months as a result of Brexit uncertainty.

Shares crash as potato firm warns on profit for year: Produce Investments has issued a profit warning after booking non-cash write-offs worth £1 million relating to the implementation of a new back office system.

Whisky giant sees slide in profits: Chivas Brothers saw pre-tax profits fall 22% to £284 million in the year to June 30, as the producer contended with a reduction in foreign exchange gains and an increase in marketing costs.

Boozy Cow giveaway helps Stirling charities: Four Stirling charities are in line for a funding windfall after philanthropist Garreth Wood said he would donate all profits from his restaurant group The Boozy Cow.

Scottish pubs are least likely in U.K. to go under: Pubs in Scotland are the least likely to go bust in the U.K., despite the mounting costs faced by hospitality operators, new insolvency figures have signalled.

Scottish Enterprise Chief is paid £69,000 for non-Executive role: Lena Wilson, the Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, received total remuneration of £69,000 for her role as a non-Executive Director of London-listed product testing group Intertek in 2016.

Group in talks on storage project: The Renewables Infrastructure Group has revealed it is in talks to acquire a battery storage project in West Lothian.

Craneware wins new contract: Craneware, the Edinburgh-based software provider to the U.S. healthcare market, has won a new $3.7 million contract with a current client.

The Scotsman

Eddie Stobart motors ahead with £550 million flotation plan: Eddie Stobart has announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange in a listing that would value the logistics group at over £550 million.

Nucleus Boss in the running for DigiTech CEO award: David Ferguson, the Founder and Chief Executive of financial wrap platform Nucleus, has been shortlisted in the CEO of the year category in the latest Digital Technology Awards.

BT to create 31 customer service roles in Glasgow: Telecoms giant BT is to create 31 jobs in Glasgow as part of a recruitment drive to transform customer service.

Job cuts at Jabil electronics plant in Livingston: Hundreds of jobs could be cut at Jabil electronics plant in Livingston after they announced plans to close.

Holyrood warned against sudden post-Brexit changes: While farm support measures will need to change in the post-Brexit era in order to both justify their existence to the taxpayer and to serve Scottish agriculture better, any sudden change could be disastrous for the industry.

City A.M.

Virgin Media reckons its slowest broadband is faster than the best anyone else can deliver: Virgin Media has revamped its broadband service speeds, claiming its slowest internet is now faster than what is widely available from any other providers.

Emirates has found a way to minimise turbulence caused by the U.S. laptop cabin ban: Emirates has laid out how it intends to bring in the laptop ban in a way that minimises disruption for passengers as much as possible.

Starbucks investors want the company to avoid ending up in hot water over President Trump controversy: A group of conservative Starbucks investors are warning the coffee company against provoking Donald Trump, which could cause an angry tweet and a drop in stock prices.

SSE snaps up a larger stake in the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm development: Britain’s SSE unveiled plans to hike its stake in the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm to 37.5%.

The U.K.’s share of the worldwide box office falls nearly 10% after films failed to live up to a blockbuster 2015: U.K. films’ share of the worldwide box office fell last year, down from 25% in a blockbuster 2015 to 16% in 2016.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000
Market Briefing - UK markets finished in positive territory yesterday, after UK’s retail sales for February beat market expectations and indicated robust consumption UK Market Snapshot

UK markets finished in positive territory yesterday, after UK’s retail sales for February beat market expectations and indicated robust consumption. Next surged 8.1%, after the retailer maintained its final dividend and guidance for 2017. Peer, Marks & Spencer Group climbed 3.8%. GVC Holdings jumped 5.4%, after the company posted a rise in its full-year earnings and announced that it would pay a second special dividend for 2016. Tesco edged 2.0% up, after the company removed Heineken beers and ciders from its shelves after the latter increased its prices due to Brexit. Bucking the trend, IG Group Holdings tumbled 5.0%, after the company reported a drop in its revenue for the third quarter. Segro, Galliford Try and Bovis Homes Group declined 1.8%, 2.2% and 3.2%, respectively, as they went ex-dividend. The FTSE 100 advanced 0.2%, to close at 7,340.7, while the FTSE 250 rose 0.9%, to settle at 19,002.3.

US Market Snapshot

US markets closed lower yesterday, with the DJIA index recording its sixth straight session decline after a vote on the American Health Care Act was delayed by the House Republicans. Pharmaceutical firms, Humana and Centene fell 1.6% and 4.0%, respectively. Ford Motor shed 0.9%, after it offered a dismal earnings outlook for the first quarter. Apple slid 0.4%, after reports indicated that the company had acquired a popular automation mobile app, Workflow. On the positive side, Five Below surged 10.8%, after the discount retailer posted better than expected earnings for the fourth quarter and announced that it would open 100 new stores in 2017. PVH soared 8.5%, after the company reported upbeat results for the fourth quarter. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1%, to settle at 2,346.0. The DJIA shed marginally fell to settle at 20,656.6, while the NASDAQ fell 0.1%, to close at 5,817.7.

Europe Market Snapshot

Other European markets ended in the green yesterday, boosted by gains in financial sector stocks after banks borrowed more than expected under the European Central Bank’s (ECB) TLTRO programme. Lenders, Commerzbank, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale climbed 1.1%, 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively. Akzo Nobel edged 2.9% up, after its investor, Elliot Management, forced the company to enter into talks with PPG Industries about a merger. BASF added 1.1%, after the company inked a deal to sell its leather chemicals business to Stahl. On the flipside, Credit Suisse Group declined 2.0%, amid reports that the company is considering a $3.0 billion share sale rather than pursuing a separate listing for its Swiss banking division. The FTSEurofirst 300 index gained 0.8%, to close at 1,487.0. Among other European markets, the German DAX Xetra 30 rose 1.1%, to close at 12,039.7, while the French CAC-40 advanced 0.8%, to settle at 5,032.8.

Asia Market Snapshot

Markets in Asia are trading mostly lower this morning. In Japan, Toshiba has surged 8.2%, amid news that Effissimo Capital Management has become its largest shareholder after the latter amassed an 8.1% stake in the company. Exporters, Mazda Motor, Toyota Motor and Sony have advanced 0.5%, 1.0% and 2.1%, respectively, on weaker Japanese Yen. In Hong Kong, brokers, Haitong Securities and CITIC Securities have fallen 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively. In South Korea, Samsung Electronics has slipped 0.8%, after the company announced that it would be difficult to adopt a holding company structure and rejected Elliott Management’s proposal. Samsung C&T Corp has plunged 7.4%, following these comments. The Nikkei 225 index is trading 0.8% higher at 19,238.9. The Hang Seng index is trading 0.1% down at 24,308.6, while the Kospi index is trading 0.3% lower at 2,166.7.

Key Corporate Announcements Today




All Asia Asset Capital Limited (DI)

Final Dividend Payment Date

Downing Three VCT D Share, Downing Two VCT D Share, Henderson Opportunities Trust, Hollywood Bowl Group, LPA Group

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Berkeley Group Holdings (The), Hollywood Bowl Group, Invesco Perpetual UK Small Companies Inv Trust

Quarterly Payment Date

Aberdeen Diversified Income and Growth Trust, Alpha Real Trust Ltd., Brunner Inv Trust, The SME Loan Fund

Key Corporate Announcements for Monday


Temple Bar Inv Trust, Toople

Final Dividend Payment Date

Aberdeen UK Tracker Trust

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Mountview Estates, Personal Group Holdings

Quarterly Payment Date

Royal Dutch Shell 'A', Royal Dutch Shell 'B', Tetragon Financial Group Limited

Key Economic News

UK retail sales rose more than expected in February

In February, on a YoY basis, retail sales registered a rise of 3.70% in the UK, more than market expectations for a rise of 2.60%. In the prior month, retail sales had recorded a revised rise of 1.00%.

UK retail sales advanced more than expected in February

In February, retail sales rose 1.40% on a monthly basis in the UK, compared to a revised drop of 0.50% in the prior month. Market expectation was for retail sales to rise 0.40%.

UK CBI distributive trade survey's retail sales balance remained flat in March

The CBI distributive trade survey's retail sales balance in the UK remained unchanged at a level of 9.00% in March. Market expectation was for the CBI distributive trade survey's retail sales balance to fall to a level of 4.00%.

Euro-zone consumer confidence index advanced in March

The flash consumer confidence index climbed to -5.00 in the Euro-zone, in March, higher than market expectations of an advance to a level of -5.90. The consumer confidence index had recorded a level of -6.20 in the prior month.

German consumer confidence index unexpectedly dropped in April

The consumer confidence index in Germany fell unexpectedly to a level of 9.80 in April, compared to a level of 10.00 in the previous month. Markets were anticipating the consumer confidence index to record a flat reading.

French production outlook indicator surprisingly slid in March

In France, the production outlook indicator fell unexpectedly to 3.00 in March, lower than market expectations of a rise to 7.00. In the prior month, the production outlook indicator had recorded a level of 5.00.

French industrial business climate index slid in March

In March, the industrial business climate index in France dropped to 104.00, at par with market expectations. In the prior month, the industrial business climate index had registered a revised reading of 105.00.

French own-company production outlook fell in March

Compared to a revised reading of 19.00 in the previous month own-company production outlook in France recorded a drop to 12.00 in March. Markets were expecting own-company production outlook to fall to a level of 17.00.

US Kansas City Fed manufacturing activity index surprisingly climbed in March

In March, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing activity index in the US recorded an unexpected rise to a level of 20.00, higher than market expectations of a steady reading. In the prior month, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing activity index had registered a reading of 14.00.

US continuing jobless claims surprisingly fell in the last week

In the week ended 11 March 2017, the seasonally adjusted continuing jobless claims in the US recorded an unexpected drop to 2000.00 K, compared to market expectations of a rise to a level of 2040.00 K. Continuing jobless claims had recorded a revised level of 2039.00 K in the prior week.

US new home sales rose in February

Compared to a revised level of 558.00 K in the previous month, new home sales recorded a rise of 6.10%, on MoM basis, to a level of 592.00 K in February, in the US. Markets were expecting new home sales to climb to 564.00 K.

US initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose in the last week

The seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims registered an unexpected rise to 258.00 K in the US, in the week ended 18 March 2017, compared to market expectations of a drop to 240.00 K. Initial jobless claims had registered a revised reading of 243.00 K in the prior week.

Foreign investors became net sellers of Japanese stocks in the previous week

Foreign investors were net sellers of ¥580.40 billion worth of Japanese stocks in the week ended 17 March 2017, as compared to being net sellers of ¥722.70 billion worth of Japanese stocks in the prior week.

Japanese investors remained net sellers of foreign stocks in the previous week

Japanese investors remained net sellers of ¥465.70 billion worth of foreign stocks in the week ended 17 March 2017, as compared to being net sellers of a revised ¥360.60 billion worth of foreign stocks in the previous week.

Japanese investors turned net buyers of foreign bonds in the previous week

Japanese investors turned net buyers of ¥149.40 billion worth of foreign bonds in the week ended 17 March 2017, as compared to being net sellers of a revised ¥696.10 billion worth of foreign bonds in the previous week.

Foreign investors became net sellers of Japanese bonds in the previous week

Foreign investors remained net sellers of ¥586.80 billion worth of Japanese bonds in the week ended 17 March 2017, from being net sellers of a revised ¥49.50 billion worth of Japanese bonds in the prior week.

Japanese manufacturing PMI dropped in March

The preliminary manufacturing PMI registered a drop to 52.60 in Japan, in March. Manufacturing PMI had recorded a reading of 53.30 in the prior month.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:48:00 +0000
American Strategic Decline Is a Myth Donald Trump Continues to Peddle American Strategic Decline Is a Myth Donald Trump Continues to Peddle

Here is a section from both the opening and the closing of this interesting and somewhat controversial column by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for The Telegraph:

Contrary to widespread belief, the US is not facing economic and strategic decline in any foreseeable future.

It had already reclaimed its superpower lead before Donald Trump swept into office vowing to make America great again. With hindsight we can see ever more clearly that the Lehman crisis was a false alarm.

Loss of dominance has long been a staple of US discourse. John Kennedy decried the ballistic "missile gap" with the Soviet Union before the 1960 election, when Russia had just four missiles and the US had thousands with explosive power equal to 1.3 million Hiroshima-sized bombs.

Ever since I began covering the US as a journalist in the early Reagan years, there have been bouts of soul-searching.  Paul Kennedy's theory of imperial over-stretch in Rise and Fall of the Great Powers was all the rage in the late 1980s, when the Washington clerisy thought Japan destined for economic leadership.

Edward Luttwack upped the ante in 1994 with Endangered American Dream, warning that the US was turning into a third world nation. This was just as the US was about establish its undisputed hegemony over the digital age.

US decline was a myth then, and remains a myth today. Putative rivals have all run into trouble or face structural limits that will be obvious within a decade. India's time has not yet come.


A decade ago the US was preparing to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) on a large scale. The terminals have since switched into export hUBS. American shale gas is being shipped to Europe.

The effect is to force down the market price of gas in EU, depriving Russia's Gazprom of its lockhold on prices. Lithuania's "Independence" terminal can now import LNG, eliminating dependence on the Kremlin. Poland is following suit. That strategic implications are profound.

As Goldman Sachs said this week, US shale oil can go from zero to peak output within six to nine months. It can do so on a big enough scale to hold down global crude prices, and for long enough to bleed OPEC and the Kremlin almost white.

The Permian Basin in West Texas alone could match Saudi Arabia's Ghawar field within five years, topping 5m barrels a day. Fracking technology has cut break-even costs so fast that old "super-basins" are poised for stunning revivals. It is no longer a question of whether the US will become a net oil exporter, but how soon.

While the US "manufacturing renaissance" has been patchy, cheap gas has restored the fortunes of the plastics, chemical, and glass industries. The American Chemistry Council is tracking $130bn of new investment along the Gulf Coast, expected to create 460,000 jobs by 2022. The US unemployment rate is 4.7pc, near a  half-century low

This is the recovery that Donald Trump managed to turn into a landscape of “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones” in his dystopian inaugural address.

It is of course standard fare for opposition candidates to decry the decline of America during campaigns. What is different about President Trump is that he continues to push this line after taking office, presumably because he believes his own wild claims.

We all have to reach our own conclusions about Donald Trump. My view is that he matters less than we now think. His presidency may prove no more than a four-year embarrassment, leaving few traces.

His plans to slash science and technology funding by 20pc would indeed risk the sort of decline he rails against. But his budget is dead on arrival in Congress.

His contempt for allies and the multilateral bodies that vastly lever America's strategic power is folly but the US Senate is likely to take charge and run foreign policy on traditional lines. Grown-ups at the helm of the State, Defence, and Treasury departments will navigate the reefs. America's institutions and courts will contain Mr Trump.



David Fuller's view

Donald Trump won the US Presidential election for two very different reasons.

1) He recognised that vast stretches of America between the East and West Coasts contained plenty of angry voters, who Hillary Clinton once described unwisely as “the deplorables”. Job losses due to accelerating technological innovation were a big problem, especially for less skilled workers.  For instance, people were working at Walmart for $9 an hour, while a little over a generation earlier their ancestors earned $30 an hour in steel mills.  That was before globalisation and competition from developing Asian economies led to many of the US’s rust belts.  

2) Most of the financial community and a considerable number of Republican business people were fed up with onerous financial regulations, high taxation and limited economic growth. The Lehman crisis was no “false alarm”, as stated above, because it could have triggered a depression without a massive monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve and also central banks in other countries.  Unfortunately, Barack Obama was far more interested in regulation than economic stimulus.



Europe Has Forgotten What It Means for a Nation to Govern Itself. Article 50 Will Remind Them

Here is this short comment by Janet Daley for The Telegraph:

So it begins. This is either going to be the most tedious two years of argy-bargy, mind-numbing detail, procrastination, futile grandstanding, and empty threats ending with something that looks remarkably like the present arrangements... or it isn’t.

What could and should happen is that the UK creates not just a stunning precedent in the modern European era of a country leaving what was supposed to be an everlasting relationship, but an entirely new model of the nation state fit for the 21st century.

Europe has almost forgotten – sometimes with good historical reasons – what pride in nationality might mean, and how democratically responsive governments in touch with their populations might have something valuable to offer the world.

Ironically, the idea of the self-governing state directly answerable to its own people was lost in the terrible shame of the twentieth century’s nationalist crimes.

But the EU now finds itself harbouring a return to just the kind of populist nativism which it was designed to prevent. Will this generation of British politicians have the vision and the strength of character to re-invent nationhood? Who knows?

Until this moment, I suspect that at least some of the EU establishment doubted that Theresa May would go through with it. Presumably this is why Donald Tusk has to be given forty-eight hours to make a formal response to the announcement of the actual date: he and his colleagues must be allowed to come to terms with the reality that some political leaders mean what they say.

Yes, this is really happening. March 29th will be the first day of the rest of our lives.


David Fuller's view

I’ve said it many times – don’t play the expensive and frustrating EU delaying game.  Leave the EU politely but quickly and without an agreement, if necessary, which can come later.

The alternative, described by Janet Daley in her opening sentences above, would be like spending two years on a tiny desert island with Jean-Claude Junker.



Energy Stat: Are Electric and Autonomous Vehicles Heading Down the Road to Peak Oil Demand?

Thanks to a subscriber for this fascinating report by Pavel Mulchanov for Raymond James which may be of interest. Here is a section:

There is no law of nature that dictates that global oil demand must eventually reach a peak and then begin an irreversible decline. The well-known “law” of Hubbert’s Peak applies to supply, not demand, and the advent of modern technology (fracking, horizontal drilling, enhanced recovery, etc.) has led to a fundamental rethink of whether oil supply will peak after all. In this context, we see comments such as the one from Shell, suggesting that peak demand will come first, rendering peak supply a moot point.

There is no direct historical precedent for worldwide demand for a major energy commodity to peak on a sustained basis. (Sorry, whale oil doesn’t count.) Despite all of the regulatory and other headwinds, for example, global consumption of coal is still growing. But it is true that there is precedent for national and even regional demand to peak. Coal demand in Europe peaked in the 1960s, and has since fallen to substantially lower levels. Oil demand in Japan peaked in the 1990s. Oil demand in Europe peaked more recently, in 2006, one year after the U.S. By definition, a peak is something that can only be known in retrospect, but with a decade having passed, it seems abundantly clear that European oil demand will never get back to its pre-2006 levels. With regard to the U.S., the situation is less clear-cut because of the demand recovery in recent years, but 2005 may well be the all-time peak. The theory of peak global oil demand holds that when enough parts of the world reach a peak, a global peak will result, because the few places still growing will not be enough to offset the decliners. In this sense, the theory is conceptually valid. Thus, we would not argue with the notion that peak oil demand is a matter of time. The real question is: how much time?


Eoin Treacy's view

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

I had not previously seen the statistics about peak demand for Europe and Japan so I found this report enlightening and commend it to subscribers. Peak demand is an important theme and explains why Saudi Arabia guards its Asian markets so jealously; offering discounts again as recently as two weeks ago. Asia and Africa represent the two big growth markets for international oil products just as they represent the major growth areas for coal consumption.


Dow's Merck Swipes Immuno-Oncology Share From Heavyweight Rivals

This article from may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Four immuno-oncology drugs from Merck, Bristol-Myers and Roche brought in $464 million in February, declining 4% from $483 million in January, Leerink analyst Seamus Fernandez said, citing data from tracker Symphony Health.

But February was a shorter month, which could be partly responsible for the decrease, Fernandez said in a research report. Despite the slowdown, Merck's Keytruda sales grew 2% in February vs. the prior month.

Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers' drugs Opdivo and Yervoy held on to a collective 69% market share, falling 1% vs. January. Merck's Keytruda now has 24% of the market, up from 23% the prior month. Roche's Tecentriq was flat at 7% share.

Immuno-oncology drugs fight cancer by teaching the body's immune system to identify cancer cells hiding behind specific proteins. Those proteins are called checkpoints.


Eoin Treacy's view

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing is quickly revolutionising the genetics sector by reducing the cost and increasing the speed of innovation. That is particularly good news for cancer treatments because there are so many different mutations and each needs a tailored approach. In fact the end point of research and another area receiving a great deal of interest is the synthetic biology sector where custom viruses can be written to attack a patient’s personal cancer.


Not So Fast on India Stock Rally as UBS Sees Profit Bar Too High

This article by Nupur Acharya and Ameya Karve for Bloomberg reiterates an argument more than a few institutional investors have made about India. Here is a section:

“The markets are trading at all-time-high multiples and are pricing in a lot, or expecting reforms to continue and growth to come back fairly quickly,”  Chhaochharia said. “The risk-reward is definitely not attractive.”

Skeptics like Chhaochharia are becoming harder to find as foreign and local investors pile into equities and analysts predict further gains. The S&P BSE Sensex will climb to 32,000 by year-end, up 10 percent from current levels, according to a survey of traders and investors by Bloomberg News on March 14, three days after Modi won the state polls. Citibank, which previously forecast the Sensex to reach 30,000 by September, now sees the gauge at 31,500 in December.

Overseas investors have plowed a net $3 billion into Indian equities in March, the biggest monthly inflow in a year, while mutual funds have been buyers for seven months through February.

The liquidity-aided euphoria saw a department store chain double in its trading debut on Tuesday, and an exchange-traded fund of state companies on Friday got bids for about four times the target.



Eoin Treacy's view

10-year local currency Indian government bonds yield 6.82%. That’s well below the 9% which was on offer in 2014 but the question of the currency is much less pressing today than it was then. More than any other factors, the combined trends of the currency and the bond market offer a window into how large foreign investors view the prospects for India.



Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:43:00 +0000
Beaufort Securities Breakfast Alert: Ariana Resources plc, Kier Group Today's edition features:

• Ariana Resources (LON:AAU)

Kier Group (LON:KIE)


"The Dow Jones gave up almost a 100-point gain yesterday evening, to close in the red as it became clear that House Republicans would have to postpone Thursday's planned vote on a bill designed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. As of Thursday afternoon, Republican lawmakers remained short of the votes needed; this is, of course, highly sensitive, considering most economists view the outcome to be a barometer on President Trump administration and, ultimately, whether he will be able to push through dramatic agenda for policy changes like tax cuts, fiscal stimulus and deregulation, optimism for which has spurred international financial markets to new record highs post his election. A further attempt will be made later today, although the White House Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, has already conceded that Trump will have to leave Obamacare in place if he fails to muster sufficient support. The principal US indices tumbled in unison during the last trading hour to all end with fractional losses. This year's big winners, financials and industrials, were obvious casualties of the news, although energy stocks also managed to notch up their six-consecutive day of losses as crude prices fell on concerns of unabated rising US inventories and doubts regarding international adherence to scheduled production cuts. Despite this, Asia-Pacific equities regained some risk appetite Friday morning, with the Nikkei sparking higher as the Yen weakened against the stronger US$ that followed the Robert Kaplan suggesting three rate hikes in 2017 to be a 'reasonable baseline'. This also boosted the ASX that otherwise would have been concerned by soft overnight minerals prices, while the Shanghai Composite followed closely behind to leave just the Hang Seng treading water. Possibly a measure of investor cynicism, and in sharp contrast with the past, financial markets barely noticed Wednesday's terrorist attack in London, underscoring conviction that such events have limited scope to undermine businesses or the economies of affected regions. While the FTSE-100 spent most of the day with marginal losses, despite February Retail Sales data emerging slightly above consensus, it staged a late recovery inspired by a firmer US opening, itself on stronger than anticipated on February New Home Sales, to close with a modest gain. European stocks, by comparison, shone quite brightly, with the Stoxx Europe 600 hiking 0.85% as analysts continued to point out the wide valuation gap that now exists between it and the S&P-500, at a time when macro and political confidence for the Continent appears to be rising. UK macro release due today are limited to January BBA Mortgage Approvals, although March Preliminary PMI figures are due form the EU. The US provides February Durable Goods and its own Market Preliminary PMI data; speeches are also due from the Fed's Chales Evans and James Bullard. UK corporates due to release earnings or trading updates include Smiths Group (SMIN.L), Henry Boot (BHY.L), and Concurrent Technologies (CNC.L). As investors are in 'wait and see' mode with this afternoon's vote in the US expected after the close, little can be expected from the London markets today. The FTSE-100 is seen trading just 5 points either side of unchanged during early business."

- Barry Gibb, Research Analyst




The FTSE-100 finished yesterday's session 0.22% higher at 7,340.71, whilst the FTSE AIM All-Share index added 0.41% to stand at 917.61. In continental Europe, the CAC-40 finished up 0.76% at 5,032.76 whilst the DAX was 1.14% higher at 12,039.68.

Wall Street

In New York last night, the Dow Jones fell 0.2% to 20,656.58, the S&P-500 lost 0.11% to 2,345.96 and the Nasdaq lost 0.07% to stand at 5,817.69.


In Asian markets this morning, the Nikkei 225 had gained 0.92% to 19,261.60 , while the Hang Seng faded 0.18% to 24,284.74.


In early trade today, WTI crude was up 0.42% to $47.90/bbl and Brent was up 0.34% to $50.73/bbl.



Call for 'decently paid' maternity leave

Statutory maternity pay for UK mothers is among the worst in Europe, according to an analysis by the TUC. The trade union body says only Ireland and Slovakia have worse "decently paid" entitlements. It defines decently paid as two-thirds of a woman's salary or more than £840 a month. The government said the UK's maternity system was one of the most generous in the world and most mothers could take up to 39 weeks of guaranteed pay. That was nearly three times the EU minimum requirement of 14 weeks, a statement said. The TUC argues that statutory maternity pay should be at least as much as the minimum wage so mothers do not have to return to work prematurely. "The UK is in the relegation zone when it comes to decently paid maternity leave," said Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC. "Many European countries offer decent support to new mums, but lots of parents here are forced back to work early to pay the bills." The analysis is based on research by the Leave Network, an international group that analyses and researches leave policies.

Source: BBC News


Company news

Ariana Resources (LON:AAU, 1.88p) – Speculative Buy

Ariana Resources, the gold-silver exploration and development company, announced today that the first gold-silver doré bar (5.25kg) has been poured at the Kiziltepe Mine. Kiziltepe is part of the Red Rabbit Joint Venture with Proccea Construction and is 50% owned by Ariana. Final statutory inspections and technical approvals and have been received and the mine site has been issued an Operations Permit. The Company stated that it expects production to ramp over the coming weeks and through Q2 2017. In the meantime, Ariana will continue advancing exploration programmes on other projects to enhance its resource base and future production at Kiziltepe.

Our view: The long-awaited Operation Permit and, more importantly, the first gold pour and have finally arrived at Kiziltepe. This is a monumental moment for Ariana and its JV partner Proccea Construction. With all permits now approved and the processing plant in operation we look forward ramp up to full production over the next weeks. The Kiziltepe mine is expected to deliver c 20,000oz gold equivalent per annum over eight years. In the meantime, management can now focus on further enhancements to the project through resource extension and upgrades to reach its target of a minimum ten-year mine life. We look forward to completion of the ramp up stage in the coming weeks as well as quarterly production updates and maintain a Speculative Buy rating on the stock.

Beaufort Securities acts as corporate broker to Ariana Resources plc


Kier Group (LON:KIE, 1,503.00p) – Buy

Kier Group, a leading property, residential, construction and services group, yesterday announced its interim results for the 6 months ended 31 December 2016 ('H1 FY2017'). During the period, at an underlying basis, revenue fell by -1% to £2,004m, against the comparative period (H1 FY2016). Due to +0.1% improvement in operating margin to 2.8%, operating profit advanced by +4% to £56.5m, while pre-tax profit jumped +12% to £46.3m, leading basic earnings per share to rose +11% to 38.9p. On a statutory basis, revenue increased +1% to £1,996m, operating profit rose +149% to £47.0m, pre-tax profit grew +712% to £34.9m, leading basic earnings per share up +405% to 39.9p, as this year benefited from £39m profit on disposal of Mouchel Consulting in October 2016, in line with its portfolio simplification strategy. Net debt widened by +3% to £179m. Operating cash inflows before working capital including income from joint ventures stood at £70m (H1 FY2016: £67m). On a separate announcement, the Group confirmed that it has formed a joint venture with CKH Developments Limited ('Cross Keys'), a housing association and care services provider. Kier will transfer part of its land bank and a number of its residential developments valued up to £97m, into the JV, while Cross Keys will contribute up to £4m of equity into the JV. The JV (Kier has 90% shareholding with 50% voting rights) will be funded by a non-recourse revolving credit facility from HSBC and Kier will receive a cash payment of up to £64m for the assets. Kier's CEO, Haydn Mursell, commented "The Group's breadth provides some resilience against economic uncertainty and we continue to shape Kier to focus on our core competencies. We remain on course to deliver our expectations for the full year and we are well positioned to achieve our Vision 2020 goals". The Group declared an interim dividend of 22.5p per share, up +5%, to be paid on 19 May 2017.

Our view: Kier delivered a satisfactory performance for H1 FY2017, with results in line with expectation given profits are weighted towards H2. Net debt was ahead of expectations with net debt to EBITDA to be maintained at 1.0x for the full year. Looking ahead, the Group reiterated its full year expectations, and said it remains confident to achieve Vision 2020 goals of double-digit profit growth on average each year to 2020. In the H2, the Group is expected to exit from its Caribbean operations, in line with its portfolio simplification strategy and the Group continue its final account negotiations of £33m additional provision. Kier has strong order book of £8.9bn, up +5%, in Construction and Services businesses, supported by strong pipeline conversion in regional building and highway services. The Group has secured 100% of forecast revenue in Construction and Services for FY2017 and already secured c.70% for FY2018. Kier is focused on portfolio simplification, yet has a balanced portfolio of businesses and market leading positions in regional building, infrastructure and housing. The Chancellor's Autumn Statement and Housing White Paper both reassured investors regarding domestic infrastructural budgeting, and push for higher housing supply. The shares are valued at FY2017E and FY2018E P/E multiple of 13.5x and 12.1x along with dividend yields of 4.6% and 4.8% respectively. Based on this low valuation, high quality management and continuing market opportunity, Beaufort continues to award Kier Group a Buy recommendation.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:26:00 +0000
Can Donald Afford not to Care? FTSE 100 Index called to open flat at 7340, holding an overnight breakout to 3-day highs of 7350. This extended the rebound from 7300 and adds to support following Tuesday’s sell-off. Bears continue to point to the limited 0.5% rebound and potential for a bearish flag back to 7200. Bulls highlight growing support at 7300; higher lows maintaining the longer-term uptrend. Bulls require a break above 7350. Bears desire a breach of 7340. Watch levels: Bullish 7355, Bearish 7335

Calls for another flat European open come after last night’s US congressional vote on repeal of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) was delayed by 24hrs and US markets a shade lower. This adds to concerns that Trump lacks enough house support (even among Republicans) and that he may struggle to get approval for all the stimulus policies he pledged.

However markets aren’t panicking. This is thanks to suggestions that a favourable vote isn’t a prerequisite for work to begin on other measures like tax cuts and infrastructure spending. However, it would mean Republicans, who have hated ACA since its 2010 birth, have to accept it will stay. An ultimatum, if you like, setting markets up for a dollop of weekend risk.

This would appear either fortunate timing for a successful vote tomorrow, restoring confidence in the Trump reflation trade, and a revival of risk appetite come Monday. Either that or an unfortunate result that leads to more questioning about how much Trump will actually be able to deliver on.

Japan’s Nikkei is outperforming thanks to an easing in Yen strength and gains for Banks on hopes that US bank deregulation will proceed despite any trouble in repealing ACA. The sector is also helping Australia’s ASX for the same reason coupled with higher residential lending rates seen boosting net profitability .

A last minute postponement of the key congressional Healthcare vote saw US equity markets pare early gains to eventually close a touch  lower. As a result of the mixed messages from House Republicans, the Healthcare sector led declining sectors on the S&P500 as the index underperformed its peers, while UnitedHealth led losses on the Dow Jones while Nike mounted a recovery from Wednesday’s 7% fall to help the index close just shy of breakeven.

Crude Oil continues to trade in a tight range after Tuesday’s sell-off, as both Brent and US benchmarks look to avoid falling back below key support levels of $50 and $47.50 respectively for the second time this week. Sentiment today will likely be provided by the Baker Hughes Rig Count, as the key US production metric is on course for its 10th consecutive weekly increase.

Gold, after trading at a fresh 3-week high yesterday, was unable to maintain its position above its 200-day moving average and has since fallen back towards $1241 intersecting support. This retreat comes in reaction to a strengthening US dollar as Donald Trump provides an ultimatum to Republicans, stating he will continue his legislative push next week regardless of its outcome. This could leave the door open for further greenback strength today and consequently a bearish impact on commodities.

In focus this morning will be a raft of Manufacturing and Services PMI prints from Europe, with France (Manuf. accelerating, Services falling back), Germany (Manuf. slowing, Services improving) and the Eurozone (both Manuf. and Services slowing marginally) although crucially, all of these readings remain above the expansionary 50 level.

This afternoon, US Durable Goods Orders growth is expected to slow in February, although note the ex-Transport figure is expected move back into growth following a flat figure in January. Manufacturing and Services PMI readings from the States are both seen accelerating in March before, as always, the Baker Hughes Rig Count will provide an insight into US Crude Oil production heading into the weekend.

Speaker-wise, we have a quartet of Fed speakers scheduled, as voting members Evans (Chicago) and Dudley (New York) join non-voters Bullard (St. Louis) and Williams (San Francisco), the latter having been busy overnight delivering hawkish rhetoric about 3 or 4 hikes this year.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:23:00 +0000
I suspect because markets have had an excellent year and you'd have to be pretty awful not to have gained a lot... MARKETS 

I suspect because markets have had an excellent year and you'd have to be pretty awful not to have gained a lot so far that my mailbox has become full of get rich quick merchants.

Those sending me the mails pretend to have read the book and my musings and then go full steam ahead asking me the best ways to play Forex, indicies, the gold price and.... yes indeed. All the things I warn NOT to do!

I'm old enough to have realised by now that everyone is bonkers to a certain extent and that the primary driver to people getting into the markets is greed to make tons of money as fast as possible.

I also know whatever I say in an email won't stop whoever it is carrying on with behaviour likely to lose them loads.

One example  is an email from this chap saying he read my book then asking

"Can you start trading with just £1,000 and build enough over 1-3 years to quit a job? Do you believe day trading doesn't work?"

I have no clue how many times in the book and on this site and everywhere else I point out you need a decent capital to be a full-timer and quit work.

Or no-one wins day trading except perhaps a few robots funded by millions of pounds.

Of course my reader wants me to say "Yes of course you can, go for it!!"

I actually tell him "No chance whatsoever quitting your job with £1,000." And "Day trading is the road to the bailiffs coming round taking your plazma telly."

Then he admits (after reading the book) from jumping from trading Forex to trading Indices and blowing up all his accounts. He feels he still "wants to make it work".

I know and you know whatever I tell him, he will try trading Forex again and repeat the same mistakes.

I'm afraid people don't want me to tell them 25% on your capital per year is a brilliant return and that is what you should aim for.

Now this just landed in the mailbox as I wrote that.

"What do I have to do to earn £10,000-£20,000 a month income? Do I really need £100,000?"

Goodness me, well at least he has some idea. I wrote back and suggested at least £500,000 for that but more realistically nearer a million!

He won't want to hear that either. 

Of course out there are tons of ads appealing to quick greed, making fast bucks on Forex etc.

I still and will always totally refuse to accept any advertising here for Forex sites, systems and all the rest promising quick money. (Shame as I could make a fortune from it if I didn't have some morality.)

Anyway to be honest so many mails on get rich quick lines are making me wonder whether to just quit doing this site. Life's short. Why am I wasting my time? I could be doing other things. Does anyone pay any attention to someone like me in the era of social media?

I wonder how much longer before there is some kind of correction. There are a few signs around.

Reader Jay wrote to me: "In one of your books you mention the sign of a market topping is when Starbucks offers free lattes.

"Guess what happened in Wimbledon Starbucks today!" 

So one of two red flags starting to appear I'd say. Though with low interest rates not sure where the money is going to go.

I had a look round social media (not for long!) and everyone is congratulating themselves on what a great year they had. Etc. Just be wary.

Don't follow others including me. Be your own person. I know it is hard as we are a pack animal. More in my new book on psychology Trade Like A Shark.

I get lots of mails from people who have followed others on Twitter etc. One said he had followed someone who had shorted the FTSE based on "technicals" and lost 700 points or £7,000.

He can't blame the Twitter guy, he should blame himself.

I had this from a reader this week: "My no 1 advice is to close that Twitter account. That shuts out the noise and a whole load of idiots who think they are experts." Not everyone is rubbish but if you follow people it will lead you to overtrade and lots worse.

What you have to do is work out what you are going to do should the markets head down. I have my plan! We'll be covering that in depth with those of you coming to the seminar on the 3rd.

A quiet couple of weeks for me on the buying front after the little splurge after the last seminar.

With markets potentially toppy right now something has to be spot on to get into the portfolio. There is never any point in buying something just because you haven't bought anything for a bit. Sometimes being patient and not doing anything is the right move.

  There are three shares I really like at the moment and have averaged up (remember averaging down is for losers!) (I lost £9k averaging down on Coffee republic in 2002!)

First buy then is Safecharge (SFE)  The company put out an excellent statement I thought this week. It is in the hot area of payments and has a mountain of cash.

On top of that it sensibly tells us likely profits to base a valuation on - and it is moving to secure higher quality customers - and it has also massively raised the dividend.

The share are tightly held so a bid might be difficult but surely one or two payment firms must be taking a look?

The other is the lovely Somero (LON:SOM) . That just had to be bought - in the right area at the right time with great fundamentals.

One mag today has also written a story suggesting it could be a takeover target. If they are right, I wonder whether there could be substantial upside up to 450p?

Although a US share it is buyable in an ISA but some firms ask for a form to be filled out first.

And Sopheon (LON:SPE) again, that had to be bought.

A fantastic report today. Profits are booming at SPE, it has tons of cash, doubled its net assets.

So despite gains in the last year there looks like more to come and indeed a broker today has issued a target 130p above the current price. (Once again thanks to Martin for bringing this up at the seminar a few weeks ago!!)

SPE is strangely volatile and I tend to prefer buying it on a dip.

As mentioned above with a few red flags dotted about for the first time this year I have topsliced  a few trades, especially the ones that were doing well and that means I am now in a bit of cash.

  So here's a few shares I topsliced (sold some of) or sold all on one or two.

Recent Dty went for a profit of £251 (kept the main lot). Dia - the recent ones went for a profit of £726. After taking a nice profit on Vanl recently of £716 a warning sent shares down and took a loss of £1,200 - sadly stops don't work in these situations. Possibly been oversold now and might turn back into a buy.

Gnc was cut for a profit of £570. Serv went for a profit of £193. Rfx for a profit of  £570.  So profits minus losses add up to a profit of £1,110. That all leaves me with some decent cash floating around for the future.

  Some fantastic moves higher for some of the portfolio.

The best news today was the massive move up for Franchise brands I bought in September. I've now more than doubled on the remaining holding (shame I took some profits previously) - the website holding alone now shows profits of nearly £8,000.

It's done a reverse takeover of another company making it massively bigger and I think I will stick with it for a bit longer, very nice news. Long-termer Softcat produced a super report and I'm up more than 100 points there.

Burford has proved a fantastic trade, and I wonder whether I can end up doubling my money on that one. Long-termer Vectura came up with a bullish statement and the shares are starting to motor.

Paysafe continues a lovely move higher and if it can break up through highs more could be on the table.

Nothing causes me great alarm - however whenever gains are good one should always turn cautious. It is too easy to throw away good gains and if the market turns I will gradually continue to topslice the gains made.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:08:00 +0000
Northland Capital Partners View on the City - Mariana Resources Ltd., Venture Life Group Mariana Resources (LON:MARL) – BUY*: Hot Maden update

Market Cap: £72m; Current Price: 57p; Target Price: Under review

High-grade Gold-Copper mineralisation continues to expand the area of mineralisation

Mariana Resources reports results from 19 holes completed at the Hot Maden Gold-Copper-Zinc deposit, located in Turkey.

Holes HTD-88 to HTD-106 were completed around the Main Zone resource area and the Ridge Area, which is the zone between the Main Zone and the Southern Zone. Two of the holes were infill drill holes while the remainder were step-out holes to extend the high-grade gold-copper mineralisation.

Results from  the resource expansion drilling in the Main Zone include; 79m at 8.1g/t Au and 1.9% Cu from 248m (HTD-90), 116.6m at 6.7g/t Au and 1.7% Cu from 244.5m (HTD-106) and 74m at 3g/t Au and 1.57% Cu from 326m (HTD-88).

Results from the step-out drilling in the Ridge Area include; 32.8m at 15.5g/t Au and 1.07% Cu from 311.8m (HTD-100) and 29m at 6.8g/t Au and 0.49% Cu from 151m (HTD-92).

Infill drilling will continue in the Main Zone, while the second drill rig will focus on expanding the Southern Zone. A third drill rig has now arrived onsite and will focus on exploration drilling around the area of Russian workings to the south, which has yet to be drilled.

Cash position on the 01/03/17 was US$4.75m, Mariana expects to receive US$1.3m from warrants in the money, next month and there are an additional US$5m of warrants that remain outstanding exercisable before 2018.

Forecasts and price target under review. BUY rating maintained.

NORTHLAND CAPITAL PARTNERS VIEW: Mariana Resources and joint venture partner Lidya continue to increase the area of defined mineralisation at the Hot Maden Project with further exceptional high-grade gold-copper drill results. These latest drill results expand the area of known mineralisation in the Main Zone but also define additional mineralisation in the Ridge Zone that lies between the Main Zone and Southern Zone. Mariana has a significant cash balance that is expected to be bolstered by continuing funds from the exercise of warrants, reducing the risk of dilution from equity financing in the near-term. With the price 30% off its January high the valuation looks very undemanding at this level.


Venture Life Group (LON:VLG): Final results

Market Cap: £26m; Current Price: 70p

Revenues up 57%, maiden EBITDA (Adj.) profit

Venture Life issued Final results for the year ended 31 December 2016

Revenues were up 57% to £14.3 million (2015: £9.1 million)

Gross margin improved to 38%, vs. 33% in 2015

The Group reported a maiden positive EBITDA (Adj.) contribution of £0.8 million (2015: loss of £0.6 million)

The Year-end cash balance was £2.0 million (2015: £2.9 million)

NORTHLAND CAPITAL PARTNERS VIEW: Venture Life produced a strong set of results. In 2016 the Company has: integrated the UltraDEX brand; signed thirteen new long term distribution agreements; enabled nine new product launches by partners; developed three new products; among other achievements. Importantly, the Group achieved maiden reported EBITDA (Adj.) profitability. With 2017 off to a strong start, we estimate that the company will continue to benefit from further operational gearing going forward.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:52:00 +0000
Today's Market View - Mariana Resources Ltd., Shanta Gold Limited Mariana Resources (LON:MARL) – Drilling results from Hot Maden extend known mineralisation over 700m

Shanta Gold (LON:SHG) BUY – New reserves extend NLGM mine life


Lead market shenanigans as market sees 43,000t of cancelled warrants

Lead US$ 2,380/t vs US$2,280/t yesterday

• The 43,000t of lead could in theory be taken out of warehouses tomorrow, though in practice it would take longer

• The immediate effect is to tighten the market

• One trader reckoned it was down to strong consumer demand but speculated it could be one of the bigger traders playing games

• Either way it’s a big tonnage to suddenly remove from the market and prices have risen commensurately on the move


Zinc prices rise on news that China’s imports of zinc fell in February and lifted by the sharp rise in lead prices

Zinc US$ 2,859/t vs US$2,825/t yesterday

• Zinc prices followed lead higher but also continue to gain on signs of a tightening market for zinc.

• Imports of zinc ore into China fell to 181,767t in February from 223,123t in January and 201,949 yoy.

• The news suggests that zinc smelters in China may be struggling to buy zinc at acceptable contract prices.

• Local mine closures and problems with importing suitable ores has led to the closure of some 640,000t of zinc smelting capacity representing around 4.5% of Total refined capacity.


Chinese power generators are appealing to suppliers to cut coal prices as they get caught between rising thermal coal and falling power prices

• The cost of producing coal-fired power in China is reported to be Rmb 0.27/kWh (US$0.039/kWh) – that’s cheap!

• If the Rmb 0.27/kWh cost of producing power is higher than the sales price then consumers are getting a great deal.  I can’t get anything like that on USwitch?

• We remember the days when bulk consumer power prices in South Africa were similar at around 4c/kWh.  SA power active energy charges are now around 5.6c/kWh

• Chinalco Ningxia has asked the Ningxia regional authorities to ask Shenhua Group, China’s largest coal miner, to cut thermal coal prices to Rmb260/t ($37.7/t) from Rmb320/t ($46.5/t)  currently.  These prices are still way lower than quoted thermal coal prices for import coal currently at US$62.6/t.


On this day in history the US Army sold the last of its carrier pigeons in 1957

• It is possible with so much hacking and cyber security issues that they may need to reinstate the US Army Pidgeon Service


Dow Jones Industrials  -0.03% at 20,661 

Nikkei 225  +0.23% at 19,085 

HK Hang Seng  +0.03% at 24,328 

Shanghai Composite  +0.10% at 3,249 

FTSE 350 Mining  +0.07% at 16,159

AIM Basic Resources  +0.16% at 2,596 




US$1.0785/eur vs 1.0805/eur yesterday.   Yen 111.17/$ vs 111.38/$.   SAr 12.551/$ vs 12.645/$.   $1.249/gbp vs $1.249/gbp.  

0.764/aud vs 0.767/aud.   CNY 6.888/$ vs 6.886/$.


Commodity News

Precious metals:         

Gold US$1,248/oz vs US$1,248/oz yesterday

   Gold ETFs 58.7moz vs US$58.6moz yesterday

Platinum US$963/oz vs US$972/oz yesterday

Palladium US$792/oz vs US$786/oz yesterday

Silver US$17.55/oz vs US$17.57/oz yesterday


Base metals:   

Copper US$ 5,823/t vs US$5,745/t yesterday

Aluminium US$ 1,925/t vs US$1,926/t yesterday

Nickel US$ 10,045/t vs US$9,990/t yesterday

Zinc US$ 2,859/t vs US$2,825/t yesterday

Lead US$ 2,380/t vs US$2,280/t yesterday

Tin US$ 20,370/t vs US$20,315/t yesterday



Oil US$50.8/bbl vs US$50.7/bbl yesterday

Natural Gas US$3.027/mmbtu vs US$3.072/mmbtu yesterday

Uranium US$25.40/lb vs US$25.40/lb yesterday



Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$83.1/t vs US$83.8/t

Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$568.3/t vs US$573.3/t -

Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$62.6/t vs US$61.8/t yesterday –

Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$150.4/t vs US$153.3/t



Tunsgten APT European US$208-216/mtu (from the 17Mar week) v US$212-217/mtu (from the 10Mar week)

Vanadium – news on indicates that ferro-vanadium and vanadium nitride quotations are moving higher in China while other ferrovanadium prices remain stable in North America


Lithium - Portola Resources Inc completes acquisition of lithium ground in Argentina

• The company is paying 21m new shares and US$2.678m in staged cash payments for 18 concessions covering 69,112 hectares in the lithium-prolific northwestern quadrant of the Catamarca Province.

• The tenements are less than 10km northeast of the Laguna Caro Project, where FMC Corp operates its Fenix mine at Salar de hombre Muerto.


Company News

Mariana Resources (LON:MARL) 57p, Mkt Cap £71.9m – Drilling results from Hot Maden extend known mineralisation over 700m

• Mariana Resources reports the results of a further 19 drill-holes at its 30% owned Hot Maden deposit in north eastern Turkey where Mariana is in a 30:70 joint venture with a local company, Lidya Madencilik. Approximately 34,000m of drilling has now been completed since November 2014.

• The recent results are a combination of infill drilling within the Main Zone, where an update on the existing resource estimate of 7.1m tonnes at an average grade of 12.2g/t gold and 2.3% copper is being prepared as part of a Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) and a series of “step-out” holes “designed to extend known high grade gold-copper mineralisation.”

• The infill drilling continues to intersect broad widths of copper gold mineralisation with Hole HTD-90 intersecting 79m (estimated 55m true width) averaging 8.1 g/t gold and 1.9% copper from a down-hole depth of 248m and Hole HTD-106 intersecting 116.5m averaging 6.7 g/t gold and 1.7% copper from a depth of 244.5m down hole.

• Step-back holes HTD-88 and HTD-101 encountered 74m at an average grade 3.0g/t gold and 1.57% copper from a down-hole depth of 326m and 33m averaging 4.1g/t gold and 1.24% copper from 393m depth respectively.

• Commenting on the results of the drilling in the Main Zone, the company notes that “Au-Cu grades decrease significantly at a vertical depth of 350 m from surface … as late-stage anhydrite [a calcium sulphate mineral] floods the mineralised multiphase breccia. The source of this late-stage anhydrite is currently not clear; deeper drilling will be required to establish what happens to the mineralised breccia below the 500m RL level.”

• The extension drilling has focussed on the “Ridge” area a “transitional zone between the Main Zone resource area and the new Southern Deposit” where hole HTD-92 intersected 29m averaging 6.8g/t gold and 0.49% copper from a depth of 151m and hole HTD-100 drilled through 32.8m averaging 15.5g/t gold and 1.07% copper from a depth of 311.8m.

• The company comments that “Including the Ridge Area discovery, multi-phase gold-copper mineralisation has now been drilled over a strike length of 700m at Hot Maden”. Mariana Resources adds that “No drilling has yet been undertaken in the southernmost “Russian Mine Zone”, which is located about 1.5km south of the Main Zone Resource and where high grade copper –gold mineralisation was extracted prior to 1923 by Russian mining interests.”

• Unlike the Main Zone, where mineralisation is hosted in andesite, the Ridge Zone mineralisation is within a dacite host rock and “further structural interpretation will be required to connect the main mineralised trends.”

• The company notes that a third drilling has recently arrived on site and that it will now be able to deploy one rig to complete the PFS related work on the Main Zone, one rig  to focus on “the New Southern Zone extension drilling and the third rig to work on “various targets, including the undrilled Russian Mine Zone.”

Conclusion: Drilling at Hot Maden is firming up the existing mineralisation within the Main Zone where we look forward to an updated resource estimate as part of the PFS. Extension drilling into the southern and Ridge areas looks likely to identify further resource extensions as the know mineralised strike length has now  been identified over 700m and the arrival of a third rig will enable sub-surface exploration of the Russian Mine Zone. Further geological and structural interpretation is required to better understand the geological controls and we look forward to further updates as drilling proceeds.


Shanta Gold (LON:SHG) 9.4p, Mkt Cap £55m – New reserves extend NLGM mine life


• The Company have today released an updated mineral reserves statement together with a new mine plan at the New Luika Gold Mine ‘NLGM’.

• Changes to the previous mine plan (Sep/15) include the maiden underground reserve at Ilunga, expansion at the Elizabeth Hill and revised economics at other pits accounting for lower mining costs.

• The new mine plan increases total NLGM’s gold production by 39% to 500,000oz, up from a previously estimated 359,000oz, through the 2017-2023 life of mine.

• C1 and AISC cash costs are estimated by Shanta to average $577/oz and $736/oz respectively vs our SP Angel estimates of $584/oz and $790/oz.

• The expanded reserves allow for a four-year extension to the maximum utilisation of the 600,000tpa capacity of the NLGM processing plant.

• Similarly to the previous mine plan, projected output represents a combination of open pit mining, underground operations and tailings recovery.

• New mineral reserves statement (as of Dec/16) is provided below:


  Ore Au Au (in situ) Au (recoverable)

Proved and Probable JORC Reserves kt g/t Koz koz

Open Pit 1,255 1.77 71 65

Underground 2,389 5.79 445 405

Total 3,644 4.40 516 470

- including Ilunga (UG) 660 5.56 118 107


• The difference between total reserves and the production number makes up the processing of lower grade material and tailings project production.

• Shanta’s new mine plan NPV at 8% discount rate and $1,200/oz gold price is estimated at $123m.

• Included in the number above the the Ilunga underground project NPV is estimated at $42m and IRR (pre-tax) of 129% under same assumptions.

• Ilunga underground is expected to start ramping up from 2019 with Bauhnia Creek and Luika running through 2021.

• NLGM resources outside the mine plan are estimates at 9.5mt at 2.24g/t for 683koz provide a good opportunity to further expand the NGLM life of mine.

• The resources “have the advantage that all sit within the current mining license with close proximity to processing plant” and can benefit from further drilling with high grade underground deposits open at depth and the Company managing to find new exploration targets in prospecting licenses surrounding the New Luika mining license.

• Underground development works at Bauhinia Creek ‘BC’ are progressing well with surface infrastructure to support the underground now complete.

• Cross drive from the BC decline to Luika is finished with Luika decline development in progress.

• First ore from stopes at the BC remains on target for Q2/17.

• The Company reports the NLGM remains on track to hit previously set targets for 80-85koz at AISC $800-850/oz in 2017.

• Eric Zurrin has been confirmed as permanent CFO.

Conclusion:  An update mine plan delivers an extension to the life of mine at NLGM and adds 141,000oz of total additional gold production gold production at an average AISC of $736/oz. The increase is predominantly driven by the Ilunga underground reserve which is set to add 107,000oz in gold production with high grades and little need in additional infrastructure given its close proximity to the NLGM core operations contributing to excellent economics on the project (21,500ozpa at cash costs $508/oz and IRR (pre-tax) 129%).

The management is keeping development works at BC and Luika on track. The 683,000oz, 2.24g/t resource currently sitting outside the mine plan provides a good opportunity to further extend the life of the New Luika Gold mine.

We will revise our earnings and production in the view of an updated mine plan and issue new estimates shortly. We remain buyers of Shanta.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:48:00 +0000
Breakfast News - AIM Breakfast : Curtis Banks Group, Craneware plc, Gfinity Plc, Ideagen plc, Progility, Science in Sport, Solid State PLC, Vela Technologies, Venture Life Group What’s cooking in the IPO kitchen?

K3 Capital Group—Schedule 1 from the Group of business and company sales specialists across business transfer, business brokerage and corporate finance. Admission date and fundraise details TBC.

Integumen— Schedule 1 from the personal health company developing and commercialising technology and products for the human integumentary system. Raising £2.16m at 5p. Expected market cap £8.16m. Admission expected 5 April.

Sentinel—Investment company expecting NEX admission/introduction on 24 March. £636k raised pre-IPO.

BioPharma Credit—Expected Gross Initial Acquisition Proceeds now c.$338m. Gross Cash Proceeds capped at $423m with placing and open offer. Results expected 23 March with admission  now due 30 march.


Breakfast buffet

Produce Investments (LON:PIL) 202.5p £52.86m

H1Dec16 results from the operator in the fresh potato and daffodil sector.  Board significantly strengthened with appointment of new Chairman, Group Finance Director and Non-Executive directors. Revenue £79.3m, up 1.0%. Operating profit £0.2m (2015: £3.4m) as result mainly of lag in raw material price recovery, and costs associated with the new ERP system. Interim dividend increased by 2% to 2.44p. Net debt £29.1m (2015: £22.8m). New "Acquire, Develop, Manage the Portfolio" strategy for future growth formulated and ready for implementation. “Current trading is well ahead of last year as we begin to recover higher raw material costs through our pricing arrangements with key customers.” FYJun16 Underlying trading profit broadly in line with the Board's original expectations, however full year PBT will be lower than these expectations as a result of the non-cash write-offs. FYJun16E rev £185.1m and £8.1m PBT.

Gfinity (LON:GFIN) 15.38p £24.2m

The eSports business, announces OMEN by HP as its first official partner of the inaugural eSports tournament, Gfinity Elite Series ("Elite Series"). As the Official Hardware Partner, OMEN will be integrated throughout the 10-week professional season which commences in June 2017, together with the supporting Gfinity Challenger competition. This announcement follows on from the agreement signed in August 2016, with HP Inc Limited, for an OMEN sponsored tournament, which took place at EGX, the UK's largest gaming exhibition in September 2016.  There are no market forecasts.

Solid State (LON:SOLI) 512.5p £43.3m

The supplier of specialist industrial/ruggedised computers, electronic components, advanced antenna products, communications systems and battery power solutions to the electronics market, announces a trading update for the year ending 31 March 2017. Underlying PBT is expected to be broadly in line with expectations, being in excess of £3.1m with revenue in excess of £39m. The final quarter has seen a number of projects within the higher margin antenna division being delayed, consequently contribution from these projects is expected in future periods. The other areas of the manufacturing business unit have performed broadly in line with management's expectations and the distribution business has performed slightly ahead of management's expectations. The Group's order book stood at £18.13m as at 28 February 2017 (29 February 2016: £16.45m).  FYMar17E rev of £43.6m and £3.25m PBT.

Curtis Banks Group (LON:CBP) 265p £142m

FYDec16 results from one of the UK's leading SIPP providers with a portfolio of over 72,000 SIPPs. Operating revenue £29.7m from £17m. Underlying PBT £7.1m from £6m. 86% growth in SIPP numbers, 16% gross from organic growth. £27m raised in equity placing . Acquisition of Suffolk Life from Legal & General for £45m - completed 25 May 2016. “The outlook for 2017 is strong. We continue to be approached by SIPP operators looking for an exit for a variety of reasons and we evaluate opportunities as they come to us. We will only consider acquisitions of high quality books of SIPPs where we have confidence that they can provide at least the required level of operating margins. Admission to AIM has provided us with the resources and ability to consider and fund all levels of acquisition.” FYDec17E £38.89m and 14.73pEPS.

Craneware (LON:CRW) 1192p £321.5m

The specialist Value Cycle solutions for the US healthcare market, announced a significant new contract with a large hospital operator in the US.  This win, with an existing customer, adds further Value Cycle solutions and related services to a seven year contract originally announced in April 2014.  The contract is expected to deliver a further $3.7m of revenue over this new seven year term as the hospital network rolls out these additional solutions across its facilities and $1.5m of additional revenue as the contract for the currently implemented solutions is extended to run co-terminus to this amendment.  FYJun17E rev £47/07m and £14.07m PBT.

Ideagen (LON:IDEA) 70.5p £128.7m

The supplier of Information Management Software to highly regulated industries, has acquired PleaseTech for an initial net consideration of £10m (on a cash-free, debt-free basis) and a potential further consideration of up to £2m dependent on the attainment of specified performance targets in the six months after completion. £10m placing at 75p. PleaseTech is a fast growing, profitable and cash generative software company. PleaseTech achieved revenue of £3.9m and EBITDA of £1.3m for FYDec16, an increase in revenue of 45% and EBITDA of 72%.  Expected to enhance FYApr18 earnings. (FY18E EPS 3.9p).

Science in Sport (LON:SIS) 82p £35.57m

FYDec16 results from the  sports nutrition company that develops, manufactures and markets sports nutrition products for professional athletes and sports enthusiasts. Revenues increased by 30% to £12.24 million. Underlying operating loss of £0.8 million (2015: £0.25 million) in line with expectations and growth strategy, reflecting continued investment in brand awareness, e-commerce and International expansion. “Strong start to 2017 sales, core UK and EU market forecast to be EBITDA positive this year.” FYDec17E £15m rev and £1.19 PBT loss.


Progility (LON:PGY) 1.13p £2.25m

HYDec16 results from  Professional Services, Healthcare and Communications firm. Revenues up to £36.5 million (2015: £30.0 million). Operating profit £1.6 million (2015: £0.1 million). Comms and healthcare performing well with trading tougher in professional services. Benefitted from Sterling weakness. “Overall, we continue to pursue our strategic objectives, and we remain optimistic for the full year to June 2017. Management will continue to seek means to reduce costs and increase revenue, and to improve performance across all areas of the business."  There are no forecasts in the market.


Vela Technologies (LON:VELA) 0.2p £1.44m

The investing company focused on early-stage and pre-IPO disruptive technology investments, notes the announcement released on 22 March 2017 by BTL Group Ltd  regarding a proposed fundraising by the company. Vela currently holds 689,800 common shares in BTL equivalent to c. 4% of BTL's issued share capital.  Vela intends to subscribe for 50,000 BTL Units in the BTL Fundraise for a total consideration of C$135,000. BTL intends to use the proceeds from the Private Placement in connection with acceleration of the development of Interbit, BTL's proprietary blockchain platform and towards general and administrative expenses.

Venture Life Group (LON:VLG) 68p £25.05m

FY Dec16 results from the international consumer self-care group focused on developing, manufacturing and commercialising products for the ageing population. Revenues up 57% to £14.3 million. Adjusted EBITDA profit of £0.8 million (2015: loss of £0.6 million). Adjusted loss per share of 1.3p (2015: loss 3.1p). £2m cash. ‘We moved into January 2017 with a significantly higher order book for that month than January 2016, and with many discussions ongoing for new business across all of the Group’. FYDec17E £16,5m rev and £0.5m PBT.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:19:00 +0000
In the Papers - Primark, Thames Water, Airbnb, Tesco The Times

Investors increase pressure on Akzo to enter takeover talks: The activist investor Elliott Advisors has put pressure on Akzo Nobel to engage in takeover talks after it rejected a €22.4 billion approach.

China signals end of the rank-and-file cab: Britain is to get two new vehicle plants in one after Geely said that its new factory in the Midlands would assemble hybrid black taxis and electric vans for shopping home deliveries.

Sterling fuels rising car exports and production: Boosted by the weaker pound, output rose by 8% to 153,041 units last month compared with a year ago, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Production also accelerated from January, when it rose by 7.5% year-on-year.

Tycoon’s Brexit fears come true as currency woes hit empire: The Hong Kong conglomerate that owns Superdrug, Northumbrian Water and the mobile operator Three suffered a big hit on revenue last year because of its exposure to the pound.

Savills bemoans ‘final nail in the coffin’ for the London market: The extra stamp duty surcharge for second homes and buy-to-let properties acted “as the final nail in the coffin” for the London housing market last year, the Chief Executive of Savills has claimed.

Chinese shoppers jump on low pound: Chinese visitors doubled their spending in Britain after the Brexit vote triggered a fall in the pound and increased the lure of tax-free shopping, The Times has learnt.

It’s time for a little bit of luxury: The luxury retailer famed for its Birkin bags and upmarket watches said that its profits had risen by 13% to €1.1 billion. Axel Dumas, Chief Executive, said that the performance was “better than expected in an “uncertain” environment.

Trump gives art connoisseurs the jitters: Global sales of fine art and antiques fell by 11% last year to $56.6 billion, the lowest level since 2010, as political and economic uncertainty around Brexit and the U.S. Presidential election weighed on auction houses.

Koreans make power play in Cumbria: A South Korean utility company has confirmed that it wants to buy a stake in the NuGen nuclear project in Cumbria, but it has ruled out buying Westinghouse, the troubled reactor-maker for the venture.

Ambitious energy supplier logs into home broadband market: Britain’s biggest independent energy supplier is launching a home broadband service as it tries to capitalise on “striking parallels” between the markets.

Bank, the word that dare not speak his name: Lobbyists for Britain’s banking industry might soon drop the word “bank” from their business cards as part of a four-way merger between the country’s main financial representative groups.

The Independent

U.K. homes could see energy bills increase by up to £445 per year: Homes across the U.K. could see their energy bills increase by up to £445 a year as a result of fixed-rate deals offered by 10 popular providers expiring.

Threat to U.K. credit rating from cliff-edge Brexit says Moody’s: The U.K.’s credit rating could be cut again if the U.K. crashes out of the European Union without a trade deal, the ratings agency Moody’s has warned.

Barclaycard Boss quits to defend U.S. civil liberties against Trump: One of Barclays’ most senior Executives is retiring to fight for civil liberties in his adopted homeland amid concerns about the rights of Muslims, immigrants and women.

Primark recalls children’s novelty cat leggings over choking hazard: Primark has recalled a pair of “novelty” cat leggings for children over fears they could present a safety hazard.

Thames Water fined £20.3 million for polluting the River Thames with sewage: Thames Water has been fined £20.3 million for polluting the River Thames with 1.4 billion litres of raw sewage, the largest ever fine to be handed down to a water utility for an environmental disaster.

EU to give U.K. banks new incentive to leave London, say officials: Banks in London that relocate operations to the euro zone after Brexit are likely to be spared a lengthy entry test by regulators, making it easier for them to shift, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.

London Taxi Company opens new £300 million Coventry factory: A British icon received a boost on Wednesday as the London Taxi Company opened a new £300 million factory in Coventry. The plant has created 1,000 jobs and the firm says 5,000 black cabs will roll off production lines each year by 2019.

Modest pick-up in business investment intentions in Bank survey: Investment intentions among firms have picked up slightly this year, according to the Bank of England’s network of regional agents.

Airbnb changes its name to Aibiyin and doubles investment to woo China: Although Uber failed to dominate the vast and fiercely competitive Chinese market, Airbnb is still determined to make it a success.

The Daily Telegraph

Government’s pledge to cut energy prices risks leaving consumers worse off, ex-regulators warn: The Government’s pledge to curb household energy prices risks sabotaging the retail market leaving consumers worse off in the long run, a group of former regulators has warned.

VW attacked by MPs over failure to release findings of ‘dieselgate’ investigation: Volkswagen has been attacked over the evidence about the “dieselgate” emissions scandal it gave to MPs during a meeting of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.

Oil price drops below $50 for first time since Opec deal: The oil price has fallen back below the key $50 a barrel mark for the first time since November after surging U.S. oil supplies dealt a blow to Opec’s plan to erode the global oversupply of crude.

Guardian to press ahead with compulsory redundancies for first time amid continued losses: The owner of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers is to make compulsory redundancies for the first time in its history as management attempts to stem years of financial losses.

First Utility branches into broadband as multi-utility market heats up: The largest independent challenger to the U.K.’s ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers has set its sights on the broadband sector in an attempt to widen its consumer appeal as retail competition heats up.

City watchdog wins legal battle with ‘London Whale’ Executive: The City regulator has won a protracted legal battle with an ex JP Morgan Executive caught up in the “London Whale” controversy who had argued the watchdog had wrongfully identified him when it fined the Wall Street bank £138 million.

Ferrexpo restores dividend on premium performance: Ukraine-based miner Ferrexpo has reinstated its final dividend after growing sales during a tough year for commodities.

The Questor Column:

Unilever may appear to be expensive, but this is a business of unique quality: The share price reacted predictably to the bid – it rose by about 13% – and to its abandonment two days later, which resulted in a 6.6% fall. What has happened since is more remarkable: the shares closed at £40.29, above the £37.97 close on the day of the bid. At such levels – the share price is more than 20% above its average for the past year and has roughly doubled in five years – many investors will be asking whether Unilever is now overvalued. Questor agrees that Unilever is a business of unmatched quality. We advise readers to follow these investors’ example. Questor says ‘Hold’.

Update: Revolution Bars: In November we tipped Revolution Bars, the cocktail chain, at 178p. The shares have gained 26.2% since then but there should be further to go. Keith Ashworth-Lord, who holds the shares in his SDL U.K. Buffettology fund, said the company had recently announced an acceleration in its branch opening programme, which it funds entirely from profits generated by the existing bars. He added that the company had also reported the 14th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth and had generated a “highly attractive” 19.2% return on equity in the last financial year. “This is a roll-out model at an immature stage with plenty of expansion potential,” he said. “Despite the recent rise, our projections suggest that the shares are still 10%-15% undervalued.” Questor says ‘Buy’.

The Guardian

U.K.-based airlines told to move to Europe after Brexit or lose major routes: EU Chiefs have warned airlines including easyJet and Ryanair that they will need to relocate their headquarters or sell off shares to European nationals if they want to continue flying routes within continental Europe after Brexit.

Tesco pulls Sol, Amstel and Tiger from shelves in Brexit price row: Fans of Heineken beers including Amstel, Sol and Kingfisher will not be able to find them in Tesco for the foreseeable future after the supermarket refused to accept price increases the brewer blamed on Brexit and the budget.

Number of women working past 70 in U.K. doubles in four years: The number of women working past the age of 70 has doubled in the past four years, according to official figures that also reveal one in seven men are continuing in the workforce into old age, amid growing concerns over the bleak outlook for pensions.

FTSE CEOs ‘earn 386 times more than workers on national living wage’: The average FTSE Chief Executive earns 386 times more than a worker on the national living wage, according to an analysis published by the Equality Trust as it steps up its campaign for new government rules to expose pay gaps.

Bank that lent $300 million to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam: The German bank that loaned $300 million (£260 million) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.

Plusnet fined £880,000 for charging more than 1,000 ex-customers: Plusnet, the BT-owned broadband and landline company, has been fined almost £900,000 by Ofcom for continuing to charge more than 1,000 customers even though they had cancelled their accounts.

Daily Mail

Budget footwear chain Brantano falls into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk: Footwear retailer Brantano has fallen into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

U.S. giant makes £19 billion bid for Dulux: 3,500 jobs at risk as Chemicals giant PPG swoops for Dutch owner of ICI: The future of thousands of British jobs has been thrown into doubt after an American chemicals giant launched a £19 billion bid for the manufacturer of Polyfilla and Dulux.

German bid for the London Stock Exchange ‘will be rejected by competition Chiefs within days’: A German takeover of the London Stock Exchange will be rejected within days, sources claim.

New Screwfix stores prop up B&Q’s owner Kingfisher as it warned over Brexit and the French elections: B&Q owner Kingfisher leaned on Screwfix to pull up U.K. sales, as it warned over Brexit and the French Presidential elections.

British Gas Chief Iain Conn slammed over ‘ridiculous’ £1 million pay rise that takes his earning to £4.1 million: The leader of British Gas-owned Centrica picked up a £1 million pay rise last year, in a move condemned as ‘ridiculous’.

Fury over £700k pay-off for Bovis Boss ousted in £7 million scandal over the quality of its new homes: Troubled housebuilder Bovis Homes has come under fire after handing its former Boss a pay-off worth nearly £700,000.

Daily Express

Cheque next-day clearance system to start from this year: Industry-wide moves to “put cheques firmly in the 21st century” - with new technology enabling them to clear by the next day - will start in October.

New Nationwide deal for parents to raise cash from their home to help their children: Mortgage deals allowing parents to raise funds from their property to help their adult children buy their first home have been launched by Britain’s biggest building society.

Wall Street losses spark global stock sell-off amid impending doom: Britain’s top stock indices dived in Wednesday morning trading, following huge losses overnight on Wall Street, as investors appear to be losing faith in new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Pound falls dramatically as terror attack rocks London: The pound fell dramatically against the U.S. dollar as a terror attack rocked London this afternoon.

The Scottish Herald

Kiltane swoops to save Ness stores: A buyer has been found for the high-profile Ness clothing brand and its remaining shops after the owner fell into administration last year, with the deal safeguarding 35 jobs.

Scots technology firm helps Unicef to focus refugee aid: An Edinburgh technology firm is helping to maintain the wellbeing of Somali refugees after collaborating with Unicef to monitor the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya through satellite imagery.

French giant hits North Sea acquisition trail: French testing and inspection giant Bureau Veritas has underlined its desire to expand in the North Sea after buying an Aberdeen company to help it win more work on facilities like oil and gas platforms.

Rebel investor in Bowleven raises pressure on oil firm: Crown Ocean Capital has ramped up the pressure on Bowleven by increasing its holding in the oil and gas company’s shares to 23%, from 22%.

QikServe adds customisable kiosk system for hospitality operators: Qikserve, the payments software solutions provider for the hospitality industry, is launching a new product that will allow bars and restaurants to offer self-service kiosk terminals for customers.

Crisis fears for Scottish building sector: The construction industry faces being plunged into a fresh crisis amid fears the uncertainty brought by Brexit and the prospect of a second vote on Scottish independence will pull the plug on funding for projects.

Households downbeat about future for finances: U.K. households are at their most pessimistic since November 2013 about the prospects for their finances, against a backdrop of surging inflation and subdued pay rises, a survey shows.

Fledgling restaurateur in £100,000 revamp: A famous St Andrews restaurant, housed in a glass and steel structure overlooking the North Sea, has been acquired by an up-and-coming hospitality entrepreneur.

Property developer Chris Stewart bolsters top-level team with two key hires: Edinburgh property developer Chris Stewart Group is looking to corner the urban regeneration market across Scotland and other parts of the U.K. after expanding its senior management team with two key hires.

Office fit-out firm to expand with £2 million IGF loan: Glasgow-based office refurbishment firm Insite Contracts is looking to expand its business after securing a £2 million asset-based loan from Independent Growth Finance (IGF).

The Scotsman

Travelodge to create 325 jobs with 15 hotel openings: Hotel chain Travelodge is to open 15 hotels this year, including in Inverness, Peterhead and Stirling, creating 325 jobs in the process.

Ardgowan Distillery seeks £17 million after green light: A planned new distillery with historic links to ¬Robert the Bruce has launched a bid to raise £17 million and appointed independent chartered accountants Campbell Dallas amid plans to be operational in 2019.

Property firm Bidwells hails ‘substantial’ growth: The Scottish arm of property consultant Bidwells has racked up a 12% increase in annual fee income.

First building confirmed for Magenta business park: Work is set to get kick off at Magenta, Glasgow’s new satellite business district, after project costs for the development’s first building were approved by the board of Clyde Gateway.

BrewDog eyes Asia brewery as annual sales near £72 million: Craft beer producer BrewDog is looking at opening a brewery in Asia to capitalise on surging demand in the Far East.

City A.M.

Treasury Committee chair Andrew Tyrie calls for one-stop watchdog to fight cybercrime, warning current system is too “opaque”: The chair of the Treasury Select Committee is calling on the government to setup a one-stop watchdog to tackle financial cybercrime.

U.K. government plays down concerns European Central Bank could seize euro clearing from London: The government has played down the prospect of euro clearing activity being prised away from London after Brexit.

Shared ownership is a win-win for investors and aspiring U.K. home-owners: Five out of six people want to own their own home. But as we all know, house prices in recent decades have accelerated wildly to end up beyond the reach of many.

Three Mobile says 5G auction will define the firm’s ability to challenge the market: The Boss of Three Mobile said the outcome of the U.K.’s 5G auction will be vital for the mobile operator’s future.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:58:00 +0000
Market Briefing - US markets closed mostly higher yesterday, boosted by a rally in technology sector stocks UK Market Snapshot

UK markets finished in negative territory yesterday, led down by losses in banks and miners. Kingfisher tumbled 5.1%, as the retailer offered a cautious outlook for future demand amid uncertainty over British and French political arena. The company also announced that its Chairman, Daniel Bernard, would step down from his role in June. Berendsen dropped 3.8%, following a broker downgrade on the stock to ‘Underperform’ from ‘Outperform’, who also trimmed its price target to 700.0p from 1,200.0p. Airline firms, Easyjet and International Consolidated Airlines Group lost 2.4% and 2.8%, respectively. Banking giants, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays slipped 1.2%, 1.6% and 2.4%, respectively. On the positive side, gold miners, Fresnillo and Randgold Resources advanced 1.0% and 1.4%, respectively, amid increased demand for safe-haven metal. The FTSE 100 declined 0.7%, to close at 7,324.7, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.8%, to settle at 18,832.9.

US Market Snapshot

US markets closed mostly higher yesterday, boosted by a rally in technology sector stocks. Yahoo!, Cisco Systems and Apple advanced 0.6%, 0.7% and 1.1%, respectively. FMC, Ventas and Marriott International climbed 2.7%, 2.8% and 3.4%, respectively. On the flipside, Sears Holdings plunged 12.3%, after the retailer warned about its ability to stay in business if its turnaround plan fails. Nike plummeted 7.1%, after the company provided a dismal sales growth outlook due to tough competition in the North American retail market. American Airlines Group slid 0.2%, after a leading broker downgraded its rating on the stock to ‘Equal weight’ from ‘Overweight’. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%, to settle at 2,348.5. The DJIA marginally fell to settle at 20,661.3, while the NASDAQ advanced 0.5%, to close at 5,821.6.

Europe Market Snapshot

Other European markets ended in the red yesterday, weighed down by losses in banking sector stocks. ING Groep tumbled 4.0%, after it disclosed that it is under a criminal investigation by Dutch officials over bribery case in Uzbekistan which could lead to significant penalties. Other lenders, Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole and Credit Suisse Group declined 0.3%, 0.7% and 1.8%, respectively. Gemalto plunged 17.1%, after the company trimmed its financial guidance for 2017 due to weak US business. Akzo Nobel slipped 1.1%, after the company rejected a second takeover offer of €22.37 billion from PPG Industries. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shed 0.6%, after reports indicated that French prosecutors have opened a formal investigation over its diesel emission tests probe. The FTSEurofirst 300 index declined 0.4%, to close at 1,475.5. Among other European markets, the German DAX Xetra 30 slid 0.5%, to close at 11,904.1, while the French CAC-40 fell 0.2%, to settle at 4,994.7.

Asia Market Snapshot

Markets in Asia are trading higher this morning, ahead of a crucial vote on the US health care reform, scheduled later in the day. In Japan, Kansai Electric Power and Asahi Group Holdings have advanced 1.4% and 2.4%, respectively. Exporters, Honda Motor and Mazda Motor have gained 0.2% and 0.7%, respectively. In Hong Kong, AAC Technologies Holdings has jumped 6.9%, after the company posted record-high net profit and revenue for 2016. Li Ka Shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings and Cheung Kong Property Holdings have risen 0.6% and 1.3%, respectively, after both the companies reported an increase in their full-year profits. In South Korea, Hyundai Heavy Industries and LG Electronics have climbed 1.4% and 3.8%, respectively. The Nikkei 225 index is trading 0.1% higher at 19,067.3. The Hang Seng index is trading 0.4% up at 24,407.0, while the Kospi index is trading 0.2% higher at 2,172.6.

Key Corporate Announcements Today


Crest Nicholson Holdings, Electra Private Equity, Octopus Titan VCT, Jarvis Securities



Final Ex-Dividend Date

BlackRock Latin American Inv Trust, Bovis Homes Group, Fidelity European Values, Heavitree Brewery, Heavitree Brewery 'A' Shares, John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd, Meggitt, Octopus AIM VCT 2, Private & Commercial Finance Group, SEGRO

Final Dividend Payment Date

32RED, Treatt

Interim Ex-Dividend Date

BlackRock Commodities Income Inv Trust, Brooks Macdonald Group, Chelverton Small Companies Dividend Trust, Clinigen Group, Close Brothers Group, Dunelm Group, Foresight Solar & Infrastructure VCT, Galliford Try, NWF Group, Redrow, Thorpe (F.W.), Tristel

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Murgitroyd Group, Ruffer Investment Company Ltd Red PTG Pref Shares

Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date

Funding Circle SME Income Fund

Key Corporate Announcements for Tomorrow




All Asia Asset Capital Limited (DI)

Final Dividend Payment Date

Downing Three VCT D Share, Downing Two VCT D Share, Henderson Opportunities Trust, Hollywood Bowl Group, LPA Group

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Berkeley Group Holdings (The), Hollywood Bowl Group, Invesco Perpetual UK Small Companies Inv Trust

Quarterly Payment Date

Aberdeen Diversified Income and Growth Trust, Alpha Real Trust Ltd., Brunner Inv Trust, The SME Loan Fund

Key Economic News

Euro-zone current account surplus fell in January

The Euro-zone has registered the non-seasonally adjusted current account surplus of €2.50 billion in January, following a revised current account surplus of €46.90 billion in the previous month.

Euro-zone current account surplus narrowed in January

The seasonally adjusted current account surplus in the Euro-zone dropped to €24.10 billion in January, compared to a revised current account surplus of €30.80 billion in the previous month.

Italy posted current account deficit in January

Current account deficit in Italy recorded a reading of €1.91 billion in January, compared to a current account surplus of €5.54 billion in the prior month.

US housing price index remained unchanged in January

The housing price index remained flat on a monthly basis in January, in the US, less than market expectations for a rise of 0.40%. The housing price index had recorded a rise of 0.40% in the prior month.

US mortgage applications dropped in the last week

Mortgage applications fell 2.70% on a weekly basis in the US, in the week ended 17 March 2017. Mortgage applications had recorded a rise of 3.10% in the previous week.

US existing home sales eased in February

Existing home sales in the US dropped 3.70%, on monthly basis, to a level of 5.48 million in February, compared to market expectations of 5.55 million. Existing home sales had registered a level of 5.69 million in the previous month.

Japanese Tokyo department store sales slid in February

Tokyo department store sales in Japan dropped 3.10% on a YoY basis, in February. Tokyo department store sales had recorded a drop of 1.50% in the prior month.

Japanese supermarket sales dropped in February

On an annual basis, supermarket sales in Japan eased 3.30% in February. Supermarket sales had recorded a drop of 1.60% in the previous month.

Japanese nationwide department store sales fell in February

Nationwide department store sales fell 1.70% on a YoY basis in Japan, in February. In the previous month, nationwide department store sales had fallen 1.20%.

Japanese all industry activity index unexpectedly rose in January

On a MoM basis, in Japan, the all industry activity index registered an unexpected rise of 0.10% in January, compared to a revised drop of 0.20% in the prior month. Markets were anticipating the all industry activity index to record a flat reading.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:54:00 +0000
Nike Sinks After Sales Slowdown Suggests It's Losing Share Email of the day on Chinese liquidity

Is this the beginning of a liquidity crisis in China which I have long suspected?


Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for the above article which raises some interesting points about the Chinese shadow banking system and liquidity in the financial sector generally. Here is a section:

China’s smaller lenders faced tighter liquidity this week as benchmark money market rates climbed to the highest level since April 2015, reflecting a mix of technical factors including cash hoarding for quarter-end regulatory checks. By letting borrowing costs rise, the People’s Bank of China may have been sending a warning to over-leveraged lenders, according to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. The central bank has been known to allow short-term jumps in money market rates to discourage excessive borrowing.

“The PBOC wants to warn the smaller lenders not to play the leverage game excessively,” said Xia Le, chief economist at BBVA in Hong Kong. “It’s a tug of war between the central bank and the financial institutions.”


Email of the day on choosing which instrument to short

I hope this email finds you and your family well. Unfortunately I'm again not able to attend The Chart Seminar but plan to when it arrives back here in the States. Question, could you please comment on why you got short equity futures using Nasdaq futures instead of a much weaker market like Russell. I usually sell weakness and buy strength. Kind regards


Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to subscribers and I look forward to meeting up again at a future venue for The Chart Seminar. I agree that when one is looking for the end of a trend it is generally better to short the market which represents the epicentre of risk and is therefore the weakest.


Update for Customers With Bitcoin Stored on Coinbase

This article from Coinbase arrived in my inbox yesterday and I thought it might be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

We wanted to provide customers notice of how a possible hard fork of the Bitcoin protocol into Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited will affect Coinbase accounts.

The only version of Bitcoin supported on the Coinbase platform today is Bitcoin Core, currently represented by the symbol BTC.

We may provide support for Bitcoin Unlimited in the future depending on market conditions and stability of the protocol, but we cannot guarantee whether or when such support may be available. Customers who wish to access both blockchains at the time of the hard fork should withdraw their BTC from Coinbase since we cannot guarantee what will happen during the hard fork or when this access may be available.

If one chain receives an overwhelming majority of support from miners, users, and exchanges, we reserve the right to alter the names of chains or discontinue support for certain chains in the future.


Eoin Treacy's view

This is not exactly great news for investors in bitcoin since the essence of the platform is that the blockchain is inalienable and now they find that there are going to be two blockchains.


Nike Sinks After Sales Slowdown Suggests It's Losing Share

This article by Matt Townsend for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Nike Inc. tumbled the most in 19 months after third-quarter sales missed estimates, renewing concern that the long-dominant athletic brand is losing market share to Adidas AG and Under Armour Inc.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $8.43 billion, the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said after the market closed on Tuesday. Analysts estimated $8.47 billion, on average.

Under Armour and a resurgent Adidas have been grabbing market share from Nike, especially in the U.S. That’s led investors to sour on the stock, which had its first annual decline in eight years last year. And last quarter’s results only reinforced Nike’s woes as North American sales rose just 3 percent. Executives on a conference call didn’t provide much reason for optimism, either. Worldwide futures orders, excluding the effects of currency fluctuations, fell 1 percent, the first drop since 2009. Analysts had predicted a 3.4 percent gain.


Eoin Treacy's view

Nike produces great products and has a dominant position in the apparel sector which makes it a target. With Adidas moving to a fast fashion model, Nike is under pressure to innovate and most particularly by moving to an online presence. Under Armor might be grabbing market share but it has also struggled to boost its online offering and as a customer of all three, I personally find the online shopping experience far from compelling with all their sites.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:50:00 +0000
Beaufort Securities Breakfast Alert: Regeneus, James Cropper plc Today's edition features:

• James Cropper (LON:CRPR)

Regeneus (ASX:RGS)


"Has Donald Trump’s luck finally started to run out? Just at the time when the populist revolution that threatened to engulf Europe appears to be fading? That’s the question investors are now asking, pointing at the enormous valuation gulf that has opening between the two trading blocks. Based on forward earnings multiples, the spread between S&P 500 and the Stoxx Europe 600 is near to its widest point in five years. It would only take a signal from the President that some of his ambitious reflationary proposals, ranging across tax, policy and budget, could have to be watered down in order to have a chance of being pushed past Congresses’ arch-conservatives, and the French electorate to convincingly reject Maine le Pen’s candidacy in the presidential polls that take place one month today, to reverse the tide of money that has flowed due west for so long now. Sure, it requires a brave asset manager to take the plunge right now, but background data is certainly supporting a more positive scenario for Europe. In February, for example, IHS Markit's eurozone composite purchasing managers index hit a near six-year high; even Mario Draghi from the ECB has started to sound more confident that the threat of deflation is passing; fourth quarter results from the region’s blue-chip corporates showed a net 20% of the 450 companies tracked by UBS beating earnings expectations, the best result for six years! Meanwhile, as bourses around the world have been setting new record highs, the European blue-chip index still sits 10% below its 2015 peak. Perhaps these thoughts were occupying trader’s minds yesterday, as the principal US indices once again closed softly mixed ahead of today’s key healthcare reform vote in the House of Representatives. Being seen as a barometer of Trump’s administration, the passing of his bill designed to trim departmental costs that accounted for a giant 16.9% GDP in 2016 would most certainly be taken as a big positive by the markets. Asian equities this morning simply reflected US sentiment, with the principal Chinese indices both down, the Nikkei recovering modestly from the previous day’s sharp fall inspired by Yen weakeness, while the ASX enjoyed a modest rebound in its minerals and financials stocks. Crude futures also rebounded during the Far Eastern session after new data showed U.S. gasoline and distillates stocks declined in the latest reporting week, signalling that US refiners’ crude demand is set to rise. UK macro data due for release today includes the sensitive February Retail Sales figures and the CBI Distributive Trades Survey, while the US provides a batch of statistics including Initial Jobless Claims and February New Homes Sales, which will be followed mid-afternoon by the EU releasing its March preliminary Consumer Confidence figures. Coming shortly after the FOMC meeting, the markets do not anticipate any particular fireworks being provided by the Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, when she addresses a meeting in Washington, although the FOMC’s Neal Kashkari is also due to speak at 18:00hrs GMT, which could add some flavour to last week’s less hawkish tone, particularly given suggestions in the overnight press that the Fed may be willing to allow inflation to trend higher before responding with discount rate moves. UK corporates due to release earnings or trading updates include Next (NXT.L), Curtis Banks Group (CBP.L), Sopheon (SPE.L), Ted Baker (TED.L) and Futura Medical (FUM.L). Investors will also be keen to receive any further updates regarding the supposed terrorist attack that took place in Westminster yesterday afternoon.The FTSE-100 was trading down 13 points at 8:15 this morning."

- Barry Gibb, Research Analyst




The FTSE-100 finished yesterday's session 0.73% lower at 7,324.72, whilst the FTSE AIM All-Share index lost 0.64% to stand at 913.89. In continental Europe, the CAC-40 finished down 0.15% at 4,994.70 whilst the DAX was 0.48% lower at 11,904.12.

Wall Street

In New York yesterday, the Dow Jones fell 0.03% to 20,661.3, the S&P 500 rose 0.19% to 2348.45 and the Nasdaq added 0.48% to 5821.64.


In Asian markets this morning, the Nikkei 225 had advanced 0.25% to 19,089.28, while the Hang Seng eased 0.03% to 24,312.89.


In early trade today, WTI crude was up 0.75% to $48.40/bbl and Brent was up 0.67% to $50.98/bbl.



Next sees first annual profit fall in eight years

Next (NXT.L) has reported its first fall in annual profit for eight years and warned of "another tough year ahead". Pre-tax profit at the clothing and homeware retailer dropped 5.5% from £836.1m to £790.2m last year. The firm, which had already warned profits would fall, said it remained "extremely cautious" about trading. It said shoppers were shifting their spending away from clothing, at the same time as inflation was rising and incomes were being squeezed. The profit fall in 2016 is the first for the retailer since the financial crisis of 2008. Sales at Next's bricks-and-mortar business fell 3% to £2.3bn, as the retailer said shoppers continued to shift away from the High Street. Its online and catalogue business did better, with sales growing 4% to £1.7bn. Next chairman John Barton said: "Trading conditions in the year ahead will continue to be tough, however I believe that by focusing on our core strengths, as we did during 2008, we will see Next emerge from this period stronger than before."

Source: BBC News


Company news

James Cropper (LON:CRPR, 1,390.00p) – Buy

James Cropper, a maker of fine paper and Technical Fibre Products, yesterday provided a trading update for the 52 weeks ended 1 April 2017 (‘FY2017’). The Group said both the Paper and Technical Fibre Products businesses had “healthy” sales growth during the period that it now expects the full year results to be “moderately ahead” of the Board’s previous expectations, while additional modest gains may also be realised from the capitalisation of development costs in its 3DP division, the treatment of which is currently under consideration.

Our view: This is a positive news for James Cropper. The Group now sees better than expected result for the FY2017, boosted further by favourable foreign exchange movements. Moreover, it confirmed the outlook for FY2018 is “encouraging” with growth expected across all three businesses. James Cropper’s three businesses includes 1) James Cropper Paper, 2) Technical Fibre Products (‘TFP’), and 3) James Cropper 3D Products (‘3DP’). At the H1 FY2017, the Group said its Paper division continue to see opportunities for its packaging and photo quality papers for both domestic and overseas markets, while it has brought several new products and solutions to market this year. TFP division saw demand across aerospace, energy and defence markets continuing to be strong with further commercial opportunities to provide materials for fuel cell technologies, fire protection, aircraft primary structure solutions and supporting advances in key areas of defence. Formally launched in September 2016, its 3DP division have commenced number of development projects and prototyping activities during the period. In light of this positive progress, Beaufort reiterate its Buy rating on the shares.


Regeneus (ASX:RGS, A$0.14) – Update

Occasionally, a particularly interesting international company catches the eye of one of Beaufort’s analysts, either because it looks much too cheap or, perhaps, has exciting new opportunities or technologies. Regeneus Ltd, which is quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:RGS) appears to tick each of those boxes. It is a clinical-stage regenerative medicine company developing a portfolio of innovative cellular therapies targeting significant unmet medical needs in both human and animal health markets. Its initial focus is on osteoarthritis (OA), cancer, inflammatory skin conditions and wound healing. The Company’s product pipeline, which comprises a diversified portfolio of clinical-stage products is underpinned by proprietary stem cell and immuno-oncology technologies. Recent half-year results to end-December 2016, highlighted a very successful period for the Company, with efforts of the past 18 months culminating in a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with AGC Asahi Glass (‘AGC’) (TYO: 5201), one of Japan’s leading biopharmaceutical manufacturers. Under the terms of the collaboration dated 28 December 2016, AGC has the exclusive rights to manufacture Progenza in Japan and a 50% interest in Regeneus Japan, which is the exclusive licensee of the clinical development and marketing rights for Progenza for osteoarthritis and all other clinical indications in Japan. Regeneus received US$5.5 million as an upfront payment and is entitled to a further US$11 million upon meeting specific development and approval milestones. Progenza is a scalable stem cell technology platform. Financial highlights for the period, boosted by the AGC receipt, included Regeneus producing a first reported profit of A$3.8 million (FY2016: loss A$3.1 million). Despite this, quarterly cash operational consumed (before A$2.7 million R&D tax incentive) was maintained at A$1.5 million, suggesting it now has funding visibility out for the next 18 months.

Our view: It is during this coming 18 months that things get really exciting! Regeneus’ focus will remain on unlocking value in its clinical-stage human and animal pipeline products. It will do this through generation of positive clinical data, technology development and partnering through a series of different channels. It will, of course, continue its advanced clinical partnering negotiations with Progenza in Japan, while completing clinical milestones under the AGC collaboration and commencing donor procurement and process development for its manufacture for Phase II trials before the end of FY2017. During Q4’2017 it also aims to commence an ARC-funded Progenza chronic pain study and report of its osteoarthritis STEP trial. Further out during H2 FY2018, Regeneus should also have completed its recruitment and report on both the ACTIVATE clinical trial and the CryoShot canine pre-pivotal OA trial. Phew! That’s quite a list. Of course, other drug development groups do occasionally present similarly impressive programs, but it is hard to find one that is also capable of pointing at a balance sheet that will carry it right though current programs while generating positive earnings for both this year and next. Sure, the current year earnings multiple of just 6x is flattered by the AGC’s upfront payment, but the opportunities developed and the pipeline presented suggest the equity presently trades at less than half what it could achieve based on valuations amongst its London-quoted peer group. Definitely one to keep an eye on!

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:39:00 +0000
Oil price, Rockhopper, Sound Energy, And finally... Oil price

A mixed day yesterday, it might have been worse as the EIA inventory stats were worse than forecast at a build of 4.95m barrels against expectations of +1.77m. Crude did stage a late comeback which saved the day to a certain extent. More on the OGA licences later when I have looked at them all.

Rockhopper Exploration

Rockhopper has announced that it has commenced international arbitration proceedings against the Republic of Italy in relation to the Ombrina Mare project. This follows the decision by the Ministry of Economic Development not to award the company a production concession covering the Ombrina Mare field which has clearly resulted in very significant lost profits. It seems that the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) that was set up in 1998 and had Italy as a founding signatory has been breached and damages and compensation are distinctly possible.

Given the wording of the statement from Rockhopper I would be incredibly surprised if they were taking this lightly and of course have said that they have taken ‘legal and expert opinions’ which must have helped make this decision. In addition to this the company say that they have secured non-recourse funding for the arbitration from a specialist in this form of claim. To you and me this means no win no fee and seems very wise, above a certain level RKH still get a ‘very material proportion’ of any award.

The company has said that whilst it had hoped to avoid this process it has become pretty much the only option and protects its shareholders interests ‘at no extra cost to the company’. At this stage it is impossible to try to guess quite how much RKH might be awarded should they win, and of course this case is likely to take a couple of years but a spreadsheet of the Ombrina Mare project would likely suggest a very substantial number, indeed what says the settlement may well exceed what RKH paid for MOG in the first place…..

Sound Energy

Sound has announced that the Badile well has reached its second casing point so a long time to go yet, while over at TE- in Tendrara things are getting interesting as drilling has completed. At this stage, although further gas has been encountered nothing can be read into the situation until further wireline logging and testing has taken place.

And finally…

The honeymoon is over for England’s new manager, his first outing as a permanent fixture led to a 1-0 defeat by Germany, something he may have to get used to. As i said yesterday it was a B vs B team and little can be got from it.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:38:00 +0000
Trump faces biggest vote yet FTSE 100 Index called to open flat at 7325, holding yesterday’s bounce from 7300 but having traded sideways overnight. Bears are concentrating on an inability to conquer 7340 overnight; Bulls point to the longer-term uptrend still in play. Bulls need a break above 7340 to overcome 36-hour falling highs, Bears want a challenge of 3-month rising lows at 7310. Watch levels: Bullish 7340, Bearish 7320

Calls for a flat European open come as investors digest another terror attack and await the US House of Representatives’ vote on overhauling Obamacare. Without this, Trump can’t implement the more exciting pro-growth stimulus policies markets have priced in since his election. Doubts about a favourable voting outcome are the reason for the recent market wobble, although a solid finish on Wall St restored confidence.

Japan’s Nikkei is flat as a rebound in Oil helps the Energy sector, offsetting the hindrance from Yen strength. Australia’s ASX is outperforming, helped by higher oil prices and metal prices finding support  - economic barometer Copper after a resurfacing of supply disruption concerns and precious metals in light of the terror event.

US equity markets rebounded from Tuesday’s worst session since November to close mostly higher overnight. Both the S&P500 and Nasdaq indices closed higher on account of strength in the Tech sector, helping to offset Telecoms weakness, although gains for Apple on the Dow Jones could not offset the significant losses of sports brand Nike (-7%) as the Dow Jones closed marginally lower.

Crude Oil  has staged a recovery overnight after Brent Crude briefly dipped below $50 per barrel for the first time since OPEC’s production cut agreement was reached in November. A build in US inventories to fresh record highs also saw US Crude touch $47, although now both benchmarks have rallied to $51 and $48.50 (Brent/US respectively). Continued US dollar weakness is helping to induce bullish appetite, although intersecting resistance at the aforementioned levels remains a hindrance.

Gold has edged back from yesterday’s 3-week highs of $1251 as investors return to riskier assets and the US dollar finds support overnight, however abundant political uncertainty (US congressional vote, French elections) is supporting the price above $1245. The 200-day moving average at $1248 and 8-month falling highs at $1252, will need to be overcome for the precious metal’s March rally to mount any charge towards $1260.

In focus today, after the recent market wobble on Trumpflation trade concerns, will be the US Lower House vote on repealing and replacing Obamacare. This is a major hurdle for the administration before being able to implement the stimulus policies that markets have priced in since the election.

Data-wise, UK Retail Sales (incl. Fuel) for February are expected to rebound 0.4% after January’s -0.3%, still recovering from -2.1% in December, the weakest in almost six years. Annual growth should accelerate back to 2.6% from 1.5% in Jan, its slowest in over three years.

This afternoon, expect stable US Weekly Jobless Claims, higher US New Home Sales (back to 12M average, on-trend) while the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index holds firm and Eurozone Consumer Confidence improves, albeit but remaining negative.

Speakers and events this morning include the ECB Monthly Economic Bulletin (9am) followed by BoE Deputy Governor Broadbent (9.30am) who gives a speech at Imperial College London.

The afternoon’s line-up comprises Fed Chair Janet Yellen (voter, dove; 12.45pm) giving the opening keynote speech at a conference in Washington. The Fed’s Kashkari (voter, dove; 4.30pm) delivers remarks at the same conference later while colleague Kaplan (voter, neutral; 11pm) speaks on “economic outlook and monetary” in Chicago tonight.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 08:37:00 +0000
Breakfast News - AIM Breakfast : Ecsc Group PLC, Futura Medical plc., Haydale Graphene Industries PLC, INLAND, Rose Petroleum PLC, Van Elle Holdings, IMC Exploration Group plc, Netalogue Technologies PLC What’s cooking in the IPO kitchen?

Integumen— Schedule 1 from the personal health company developing and commercialising technology and products for the human integumentary system. Raising £2.16m at 5p. Expected market cap £8.16m. Admission expected 5 April.

Sentinel—Investment company expecting NEX admission/introduction on 24 March. £636k raised pre-IPO.

BioPharma Credit—Expected Gross Initial Acquisition Proceeds now c.$338m. Gross Cash Proceeds capped at $423m with placing and open offer. Results expected 23 March with admission  now due 30 march.

Tufton Oceanic Assets- The Company intends to invest in a diversified portfolio of second hand commercial sea-going vessels where the Investment Manager believes that an attractive opportunity exists in shipping. $150m raise. Admission 3 April.  


Breakfast buffet

ECSC (LON:ECSC) 265p £23.83m

15 mth results to December 2016 from the provider of cyber security. All comps are for a 12 month period. Rev of £4.5m from £2.65m. Adjusted EBITDA of £630k.  Reported loss of £517k including exceptional IPO costs. LFL revenue growth of 35% in managed services and 24% in consultancy. Net cash of £5m. “Following on from a strong 2016, our ongoing plan is to significantly scale the business in 2017. The Board assesses the readiness of our clients to buy our services and this, together with the growth in the sector generally, make scaling the business at this time the right approach for ECSC”. Headcount up to 98 from 57 at IPO. FY17E rev of £11m growing to £11.6m for FY18E.

Van Elle Holdings (LON:VANL) 90.15p £72.83m

Trading update from the geotechnical contractor offering a wide range of ground engineering techniques and services to customers in a variety of UK construction end markets. Overall trading in Q3, which included significant levels of activity in December and January, was in line with the Board's expectations. As a result, for the nine months to Jan 2017, the Group delivered Total revenues of £70.8 million, representing growth of 16.4 per cent. Conditions in Van Elle's end markets remained satisfactory throughout the period and the Group continued to focus on generating improving returns through strong operational execution. Some Q4  contracts delayed into next year. Now expecting FY revenue of £93m some 5% below prior expectations. Unlikely to  effect final dividend. Some caution on rail activity for 2018. FYAp18E rev £112m likely to come back a bit.

Rose Petroleum (LON:ROSE) 0.13p £4.71m

The natural resource business, has  updated on its Paradox acreage position, with the grant of a five year lease extension on State lands, within the Gunnison Valley Unit, Grand County, Utah.  The Federal Unit consists of a total of 64,482.97 acres of which Rose is earning a 75% working interest in 52,315.51 net acres.   "Due to the progress we are making on the 3D seismic shoot programme, the State has agreed to extend the leases which is a very encouraging show of support. We look forward to updating the market further on the seismic permitting process in due course."

Haydale Graphene (LON:HAYD) 166p £29.28m

HY Dec 16 results from the global technologies and materials group that facilitates the integration of nanomaterials into the next generation of commercial technologies and industrial materials. Total income up 90% year-on-year to £1.5 million. Cash at period end of £1.1 million pending receipt og £3.3m strategic investment by Everpower which could also open up big opportunities in China. "This half year has seen the successful acquisition and integration of two businesses that substantially increases our international reach and broadens our speciality nanomaterials offering. “

Inland Homes (LON:INL) 63.5p £128.3m

The leading brownfield regeneration specialist and housebuilder with a focus on the South and South East of England, has secured planning permission to develop 239 residential units and 15,845 sq ft of commercial space at its Lily's Walk site in High Wycombe, representing a GDV of £75 million. Resolutions to grant planning consent have been secured for a further 992 residential units on sites in Buckinghamshire and Hampshire, including the major development at Chapel Riverside in Southampton.

Octagonal (LON:OCT.L) 2.95p £16.53m

Octagonal has updated on a new business opportunity being developed by its wholly owned subsidiary, Global Investment Strategy UK Limited. The opportunity is in line with the Group's strategy of utilising its FCA Permissions to diversify and grow revenues through earnings enhancing projects. GIS has incorporated Synergis Capital Ltd as a majority owned subsidiary ("SynerGIS") for the purpose of issuing an investment bond. SynerGIS has been established to provide commercial asset backed lending and its operations will be independent on the activities of GIS. It is proposed that the SynergisBond be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and, as such, a draft Prospectus has now been submitted to the Central Bank of Ireland for review.

Futura Medical (LON:FUM) 56p £67.34m

The innovative healthcare company focused on advanced transdermal technology, announced that it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with F Lima SA  for the marketing and distribution of CSD500, Futura's novel erectogenic condom, in Portugal. It is expected that F Lima, an established Portuguese business that distributes consumer brands into a broad range of retail outlets including supermarkets and pharmacies, will launch CSD500 under the Blue Diamond brand name as soon as practicable.

Randall & Quilter (LON:RQIH.L) 123.5p £89.07m

Acquisition of ICDC, Ltd. a captive insurer of an American Fortune 500 company. The Company, originally incorporated under the laws of Bermuda, was re-domiciled in Vermont effective June 30, 2015. The company reinsured workers' compensation, commercial general liability, business auto liability, business auto physical damage and property risks of the parent. ICDC, which is in run-off, had a total net asset value of $7.95m as at 31 December 2016 with reserves estimated at circa $2.76m. “This transaction demonstrates our ongoing commitment to continue to acquire legacy insurance assets and also continues to expand our acquisition activity in the North America, Bermuda and the Caribbean region".

Netalogue Technologies(NEX:NTLP) 4.65p £2.3m

Netalogue has signed a partnership deal with Sage in support of the X3 ERP platform. This deal creates an exciting new route to  market for the Netalogue Ecommerce platform making it more accessible to X3  partners and end users. Netalogue are also attending and sponsoring the Sage Summit next month at ExCel London on the 5th and 6th April 2017.

IMC Exploration (NEX:IMCP) 2p £2.6m

IMC announced the implementation of its work's programme on its base metal licence area in the highly prospective South West Ireland.  The comprehensive exploration programme consists of geochemistry, geophysics and drilling. IMC holds numerous licences between the Tynagh and Silvermines deposits within this Irish Base Metal Province. These licences are highly prospective, lying proximal to the intersection of the 'Navan-Silvermines Trend' and 'Limerick Trend', the latter which hosts the deposits at Pallas Green and Kilbricken.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:22:00 +0000
Oil price, Far Limited, RockRose Energy, IGas Energy, Solo Oil, plus links on SAVP-SDX-IGas- And finally... Oil price

Yesterday was a bad day for oil, not because it fell but more as it started brightly moving up on general news from Russia and sundry participants that a roll over was increasingly likely at the May meeting. During the day announcements from Libya that it was increasing production (something to be taken with a large pinch of salt as a rule at the moment) and the the inventory figures rained on oil’s parade.

April WTI expired yesterday and May (above price) was already a bit weak, this morning Brent is down 72 cents so flirting with the key $50 level which the chartists hate. So, those API stats showed a build of 4.5m barrels, more than the expected 2.8, and although gasoline stocks drew by a bigger than expected 4.9m barrels the market was disappointed. Stand by for EIA tonight…

FAR Limited

Readers will know that I have been planning a piece about FAR that addresses some of the points I am regularly being asked about regarding where FAR goes from here, how the ConocoPhillips ‘exit’ has affected them and what options they have from here. It looks to me that COP has effectively driven a coach and horses through the letter of the law and certainly the well accepted behaviour of partners in a joint venture  as it exits Senegal. The deal with Woodside appears to have been done almost as a ‘fait accompli’ and whilst FAR has tried to understand the terms of their pre-empt rights (after all, they were offered these rights from COP), they have been frustrated at every turn. Attempts through the usual official routes have appeared to have so far failed despite the fact they have signalled that they have the necessary funding (with a partner) to exercise their pre-empt option should they wish to do so. I understand that the Senegal Oil Minister fully appreciates the situation and understands that FAR are going by the book but share in their frustration. They also must understand that FAR could if they wanted make life a lot more difficult, for example by enacting international arbitration and thereby bringing the issue under the spotlight of the international community, which the Government of Senegal certainly does not want for their first, large oil development offshore. With the Government also wanting the project on-stream as soon as possible (at present by 2021/22), and elections looming before that, FAR are in a strong moral and legal position.

In my view FAR might be better served, and keep its excellent relationship with the Minister, by stepping back and accepting Woodside as their new partner thus ensuring a more stable future. Senegal, as indeed is a good deal of the West African coastline, is fast becoming one of the most highly prospective and desirable areas in world oil, something that has been recently proved by BP farming in with Kosmos to the North and this special relationship with the country is to be valued. Indeed, if by maintaining such a favourable relationship with the Ministry led to a possible, nay favourable chance in upcoming offshore licence awards, then it would all have been worth the while. With Cairn holding 40%, and I am not at all convinced that they are keepers of this stake, and of course at some stage may have to pass on the operatorship of the licence to Woodside, then all is up for grabs, at which point FAR’s 15% comes into play. Who is to say that these two stakes might suddenly become a much more tempting stake, valuable to the marauding major to whom 50% or more is needed, less is not….

By accepting that, with the passing of time, the pre-empt is lost and Woodside may be a healthy bed partner, I take it that FAR will not lose their right to take COP into arbitration and go for damages. Reading the Chairman’s comments in the annual report today, it certainly seems as though all options are in front of the board.

Did anyone notice by the way that COP indemnified Woodside against any losses incurred as a result of this deal going pear-shaped? Woodside have a money back guarantee – did COP have to offer this to get the deal across the line? One ponders whether this constitutes one of the terms of the deal that COP were not sharing with FAR.

As I see it FAR’s options are as follows:

They could keep fighting for the COP stake as is their partner pre-emptive right but this would ultimately lose the goodwill that has been built up with the oil Minister and of course ahead of the Presidential elections.

They could accept Woodside as a partner, things could be worse and I understand that relationships between the two companies are good which would be a bonus as development gets under way. With the blessing of the Ministry, which would be likely under this scenario, I can see FAR getting a decent shout in bidding for upcoming blocks, not to be sneezed at.

The final option, the ‘Kingmaker’ option so to speak, as indicated above would be to offer the 50+% stake held by Far and Cairn to a major if such a substantial offer was potentially on the cards. If such a deal was available, and it would have to be significantly above what is reflected in FAR’s current share price, this end may justify the means. With a new Senegal exploration process to look forward to, with fresh acreage and new, more trustworthy partners and a healthy bank balance to boot maybe this is the best way out for FAR.

The operatorship card is also interesting, as I understand it Woodside are expecting, as per the original –rather ill defined  agreement between Cairn and COP, to take over after the exploration phase and before FID. However, if Cairn is planning to sell to a major and maybe with FAR to offer a bigger stake then it would be well advised not to hand over the operatorship lightly…Woodside could hardly complain about this given the way they got into the licence to begin with.

My valuation of FAR is still 25c, I strongly believe that one way or another the current share price has not taken into account the appropriate value of what the company has in Senegal and will do so before long.

RockRose Energy

We now have the next stage of the RRE journey as they announce details of various deals done in recent months. They are continuing to progress on the acquisition of Scott (5.16%) and Telford (2.36%) although the Wytch farm part of the deal was pre-empted by existing partners.They have signed an SPA with Egerton Energy Ventures to acquire the non-operated interests in the Galahad (27.8%) and Mordred (8.33%) gas fields. In addition they have signed up with ‘a major trading company’ to acquire a number of small, non-operated interests in the SNS. In total the production is about 1,400 boepd to RRE.

This will all result in a net cash inflow to RRE from Maersk which although not announced is, as I understand it, extremely positive even after decommissioning is taken into account. It’s a bit early to say that this is transformational but it maybe just that, as I understand it they are considering a raise at a substantial premium to the suspended price as existing shareholders and some of the vendors above are keen to get this show on the road. No idea when they shares will come back but probably before Easter so watch this space…

IGas Energy

Things are starting to look up for IGas as following the completion of their refinancing they announce today that their planning application at Tinker Lane in Nottinghamshire has been approved. Very good news for the company as they can now test the gas shales but also for the industry and the country as the potential of finding our own gas for power moves closer to reality.

Solo Oil

Solo has bought a 10% stake in Helium 1 which sounds a bit funny to me (ok it’s a poor joke I know) for £2.55m of which £1.2m comes by raising money at 0.54p and the rest in shares. With an option to buy another 10% at £4m half and half in shares and cash the company has the put and the call but whether it’s a good deal or not better men than I can judge, never valued helium!

Follow up from yesterday…

I was out and about yesterday but spotted the following…

Faroe had a very good set of figures even though we knew how they would be good, the presentation later was very confident and there will much to see from the company this year and next. Faroe will likely take over as best in class after the Judas’ that is Ithaca leaves the scene after capitulating to Delek….

EnQuest released a surprisingly good set of figures pleasingly in the black. Improvement is coming quicker than most, including me, where expecting and I salute them.

And Bahamas Petroleum announced that the Government has extended their requirement to drill a well from April 2017 (clearly a non-starter) for another year. Patient shareholders are told that a farm-out or similar,  ‘remains in advanced discussions’ for funding or operational partners. This sounds a tad more optimistic but as usual one shouldn’t stand on one leg waiting for it to happen…


And finally…

As it is International week it is incredibly short of news anywhere, England are in Germany playing their B team, as are we and I for one wont be viewing it.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:55:00 +0000
Frontera Resources, the great hope of the Bombed-Out but Bouncing Back portfolio Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:24:00 +0000 Today's Market View - Alecto Minerals PLC, Antofagasta Plc, Asiamet Resources, BlueJay Mining PLC, Strategic Minerals, Stratex International plc, Tertiary Minerals plc Alecto Minerals (LON:ALO) Suspended – Update on Mowana

Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) – Antofagasta wins latest round in compensation for Reko Diq project in Pakistan

BlueJay Mining* (formerly FinnAust Mining) (LON:JAY – formerly LON:FAM) BUY Target Price 15p – First production targeted for 2018

Asiamet Resources (LON:ARS) – BKM feasibility study update

Strategic Minerals* (LON:SML) – Drilling underway at Redmoor

Stratex International (LON:STI) – Drilling results from Thani-Stratex’s Anbat Project

Tertiary Minerals* (LON:TYM) – Disposal of non-core gold exploration assets


European equities are following US and Asian markets lower as investors cut “reflation” trades on the back of uncertainty of new US administration policies.

• S&P 500 fell more than 1% on Tuesday, bond yields traded lower while Japanese yen and gold gained pointing to increased demand for safe haven assets.

• Gold trades at the highest in three weeks.

• Copper prices are off for a third consecutive session. Major miners are off on the back of softer iron ore and coal prices as well as strength in the British pound following strong inflation numbers released yesterday.

• Iron ore futures in China slump extending losses to 8% over the last two consecutive days led by weaker steel prices and record port stockpiles. Prices for the 62% Fe Qingdao CFR material dropped to $87.6/t yesterday, according to Metal Bulletin.


Dow Jones Industrials  -1.14% at 20,668 

Nikkei 225  -2.13% at 19,041 

HK Hang Seng  -1.24% at 24,288 

Shanghai Composite  -0.50% at 3,245 

FTSE 350 Mining  -2.09% at 15,815

AIM Basic Resources  -0.49% at 2,592 



US – A build up in concerns over the new administration ability to pass its legislative changes through Congress weigh on the market sentiment.

• Top Republican Party members warned other congressmen that a failure to repeal Obamacare may stall the process of approving other initiatives including business tax cuts.

• Reports emerged that a health-care replacement bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan struggled to secure support from Congress.


China – Local media report that Beijing banks increased mortgage rates following the PBoC drive to rein in property lending rates.


Japan – Exports posted a third consecutive annual increase in Feb (+11.3%yoy) on the back of a steady currency against the US$.

• Overseas shipments growth improved towards the end of 2016 as the US$ currency rallied against the yen through the final quarter of the year.



US$1.0805/eur vs 1.0794/eur yesterday.   Yen 111.38/$ vs 112.80/$.   SAr 12.645/$ vs 12.673/$.   $1.249/gbp vs $1.238/gbp.

0.767/aud vs 0.771/aud.   CNY 6.886/$ vs 6.897/$.


Commodity News

Precious metals:         

Gold US$1,248/oz vs US$1,229/oz yesterday

   Gold ETFs 58.6moz vs US$58.4moz yesterday

Platinum US$972/oz vs US$961/oz yesterday

Palladium US$786/oz vs US$780/oz yesterday

Silver US$17.57/oz vs US$17.35/oz yesterday


Base metals:   

Copper US$ 5,745/t vs US$5,823/t yesterday – Miners at Cerro Verde, the largest copper mine in Peru which is the second world’s largest source of mined copper, are reported to be planning new strike from Friday which may continue into Apr.

• The previous strike was ruled illegal and forced unions to end strike this Thursday.

• The mine produced 0.5mt of copper last year.

• Additionally, Chinalco reported force majeure on some of its copper shipments after being hit by heavy rains and floods damaging transport routes.

• The mine produced 168kt copper last year and has a capacity for 184ktpa.

• Union representatives at Escondida are waiting for response from management on proposed terms following a rejection of the latest Company offer.

• The strike has entered its 41 day implying more than 10% of the annual production foregone at the 1.1mtpa operation.


Aluminium US$ 1,926/t vs US$1,916/t yesterday

Nickel US$ 9,990/t vs US$10,175/t yesterday

Zinc US$ 2,825/t vs US$2,864/t yesterday

Lead US$ 2,280/t vs US$2,268/t yesterday

Tin US$ 20,315/t vs US$20,380/t yesterday



Oil US$50.7/bbl vs US$52.1/bbl yesterday

Natural Gas US$3.072/mmbtu vs US$3.076/mmbtu yesterday

Uranium US$25.40/lb vs US$25.40/lb yesterday



Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$83.8/t vs US$84.6/t

Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$573.3/t vs US$578.0/t

Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$61.8/t vs US$63.8/t yesterday

Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$153.3/t vs US$155.4/t



Tunsgten APT European US$208-216/mtu (from the 17Mar week) v US$212-217/mtu (from the 10Mar week)


Wright Electric – plans for short-haul electric-powered flights to Paris

• A new start-up company Wright Electric is proposing to develop a plane which could carry 150 people on journey’s of less than 300 miles.

• We love all things electric but when it comes to flying we are more interested in the power to weight ratio and safety record than many other issues.

• Electric vehicles are a great idea and small electric planes sound nice but when it comes to commercial airliners we like the power to weight ratio of jet fuel.

• One problem with lithium batteries is that when they fail, they fail without much warning and rather catastrophically.  Not good if you are running an airline.


Company News

Alecto Minerals (LON:ALO) Suspended – Update on Mowana

• Alecto Minerals reports that its plans to restart the Mowana copper mine in Botswana are moving towards a “first production blast by the end of this month”  and that “after initial commissioning of the process plant, test production has now commenced, producing saleable concentrate up to 28% copper”

• Alecto acquired 60% of the Mowana operation in late December 2016 via a reverse takeover of Cradle Arc Investments. The mine was originally commissioned in 2008 at a cost of around US$60m.

• In its announcement of the transaction on 21st December 2016, Alecto indicated that it expected Mowana to produce 22,000tpa of copper over an 11 year mine life from existing mineral resources at an average grade of 1.34% copper and 30g/t silver. Alecto’s modelling indicated that it expected the project to generate an NPV of US$245m at a discount rate of 10% leading to an IRR of 55%.

Conclusion: The restart of mining at Mowana later this month will be a milestone for Alecto as it rejuvenates the former African Copper operation in Botswana.


Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) 819p, Mkt Cap £8.1bn – Antofagasta wins latest round in compensation for Reko Diq project in Pakistan

• All we can say is good luck with that boys.

• Antofagasta might win a few legal cases but we reckon the only real winners here will be the lawyers and fixers in Lahore.

• We were invited to help finance advancement of the Reko Diq asset after it was lost by the Antofagasta, Barrick joint venture. We declined for a whole bunch of reasons though it was tempting to try to unravel the problems associated with the asset.

• Pakistan ranks at 124 out of 157 on the Economic Freedom of Worldmeasures.  Slightly better than we had expected but still not good on many levels.

• While we appreciate the scale and potential value of the Reko Diq copper project in Balochistan, Pakistan we do have to wonder whatever possessed Antofagasta and Barrick to attempt to tackle a project in this politically challenged region.


BlueJay Mining* (LON:JAY – formerly LON:FAM) 8.9p, Mkt Cap £55.1m – First production targeted for 2018

(formerly FinnAust Mining)

BUY Target Price 15p

• BlueJay Mining are targeting first production in 2018 according to revelations in their interim statement.

• The news demonstrates the fast pace of development of the asset and presumably a desire by offtakers to get their hands on high-grade ilmenite material.

• We are told, Metallurgical testwork shows the Pituffik ilmenite to be relatively low in impurity levels and suitable for much of the world’s titanium pigment production.

• The team are gearing up to produce a proof of concept bulk sampling programme for H2 2017 and for their application for an Exploitation License again in the second half.

• BlueJay also acquired two polymetallic assets in Greenland which they will advance once Pituffik is cash flow positive.

• Pituffik is an interesting situation, not only is it possibly the world’s highest grade ilmenite mineral sand project being developed but its situation means that BlueJay may incur relatively little in the way of capital cost to get it going.

• Pituffik is located in a natural harbour encompassing >30km of heavy ilmenite rich minerals have settled and been naturally sorted by the action of the sea.  The situation looks perfect for dredging and has attracted the attention of Royal IHC, a large Dutch dredging company which is keen to get working at the site.

• The interims remind us of the company’s £8.5m Equity funding back in December with >£5m of these funds attributable to the development of the Pituffik project.

• The company has since consummated its consolidation of 100% ownership of the Pituffik project through the completion of its acquisition of BlueJay Mining, hence the name change.

• Pituffik has active beaches, raised beaches and drowned beaches.  BlueJay is to trial “dredging a small amount of material from the drowned beach environment” in the second half following the completion of Social and Environmental Impact Studies ahead of the exploitation license application.

• Pituffik is located in the north of Greenland and will be subjected to a restricted field season depending on the weather.  Dredges operating on lakes and rivers in Siberia tend to stop for a few months each winter when everything freezes.  Operating a dredge in a salt water, marine environment should be easier as only the surface of the sea freezes and could allow for a longer field season depending on the economics of operating in the environment.

• The interim financials seem almost irrelevant compared with the potential value of the Pituffik project.

• The company reports £402k of admin expenses and a loss of £1,036k to end December 2016.

• BlueJay has £4,916k in cash and cash equivalents which should see it through the field season, trial mining and into next year.

*SP Angel act as nomad and broker to Bluejay Mining


Asiamet Resources (LON:ARS) 4.2p, Mkt Cap £30m – BKM feasibility study update

• Asiamet Resources reports progress on a number of aspects of the current feasibility study for the development of its Beruang Kanan Main (BKM) copper deposit in Kalimantan.

• Studies have confirmed that a phased build up to the planned 25,000tpa of copper production provides benefits including the possibility of lower upfront capital costs and the potential for cashflow from an initial 10,000tpa operation to be deployed for the later expansion to the full 25,000tpa production rate. In our view, adopting this development approach gives Asiamet the opportunity to gain important understanding of the mineability and process characteristics of the deposit at the smaller scale of operations helping to de-risk the second phase expansion.

• As work progresses on the ore resource drilling, due for completion in early April, and the resource estimation, the company is looking to identify “improvements to the mine sequencing to maximise early copper production, while deferring waste mining costs.”

• Geotechnical work has already demonstrated that “Approximately 34% of material in the shallower 35-40 metres of the proposed pit is classified as “easy digging”, which will contribute to relatively lower mining costs.” In addition, “There is potential to steepen pit wall angles in the upper section of the open pit (<40 metres depth) compared with the previous pit design. This would lead to lower estimated operating costs through a lower strip ratio.”

• Studies have also confirmed that the area has low seismicity and that “No foundation treatment Is likely to be required below the proposed waste dump locations, saving on potential pre-production costs for development of the waste dump site.”

• Metallurgical testing has been stepped up in recent months as planned and we await results with interest.

Conclusion: As the BKM feasibility work progresses, Asiamet is identifying potential savings in both the capital and operating costs and scope to de-risk the project development. The forthcoming updated resource estimation is likely to be the first of a number of important documents leading to the feasibility study which should draw together the resource, metallurgical and mining work as well as economic analysis.


Strategic Minerals* (LON:SML) 1p, Mkt Cap £12.6m – Drilling underway at Redmoor

• Strategic Minerals reports that drilling is now underway at its 50% owned Redmoor project in Cornwall.

• The 23 hole drilling programme, which is to be conducted in two phases with the initial phase comprising 13 holes, is intended to “confirm and extend the high grade tin-tungsten resource at Redmoor”.

• The initial phase of work is expected to completed during Q3 2017  with the second phase of 10 further holes to be completed before the end of the year.

• A report on the phase 1 part of the drilling is expected to be released during Q4 once the assaying of samples has been completed.

Conclusion: We look forward to the drilling results from Redmoor later this year. The decision to conduct the drilling in two phases should allow the initial results to inform planning for the second phase so that appropriate modifications to the programme can be introduced as appropriate.

• *SP Angel act as Nomad and joint broker to Strategic Minerals


Stratex International (LON:STI) 1.7p, Mkt cap £7.9m – Drilling results from Thani-Stratex’s Anbat Project

• Stratex reports that its 30.4% owned associate, Thani Stratex has intersected additional gold mineralisation at its Anbat project in Egypt. The drilling confirms “the newly-interpreted geometry of a near-surface, flat-lying gold mineralised zone to the east side of an identified mineralised intrusion.” Among the wider intersections reported today are a 4.85m wide intersection in borehole TDAND-04 averaging 1.99g/t gold from a depth of 99.15m and a 32.35m wide intersection averaging 1.48g/t from a depth of 86.65m, including 18.2m grading 2.25g/t from a depth of 100.8m in hole TDAND-05.

• “The drilling has also identified additional deeper flat-lying zones of mineralisation” which include an 8.15m wide intersection grading 0.74g/t from a depth of 139.5m; 10.9m at 1.04g/t from 16.0.7m and 20.2m grading 0.57g/t from 201m all in borehole TDAND-06 which was drilled 100m due south of hole TDAND-05.

• Results from the final hole of the current programme at Anbat, hole TDAND-07, are still awaited.

Conclusion: The results from Anbat show what appears to us to be multiple flat lying mineralised horizons which could ultimately have a beneficial effect on the economics of a future mining operation. However, at this stage, with only limited drilling completed that eventuality is simply a tantalising prospect – the results do, however, appear to justify follow up work and we look forward to further news from Thani-Stratex on its plans to progress the exploration of Anbat.


Tertiary Minerals* (LON:TYM) 0.9p, Mkt £2.3m – Disposal of non-core gold exploration assets

• Tertiary Minerals reports that the previously announced disposal of its Finnish gold assets at Kaaresselka and Kiekeromaa to Canadian-listed Aurion Resources has now been completed.

• The licences have been transferred to Aurion and exchange approval of the TRX-V has been granted and as a result Tertiary Minerals has been able to complete the transaction which brings them £15,000 in cash, £85,000 in Aurion shares and a retained pre-production and production royalty interest in both properties.

• Tertiary Minerals’ royalty provides for a pre-production royalty of US$1/oz for NI-43-101 compliant inferred resources defined on the properties. Indicated resources will attract a pre-production royalty of $2/oz and measured resources $3/oz. Tertiary Minerals also retains a 2% net smelter royalty of 2% on all future gold production from the properties and Aurion has the right to buy 50% of the royalty for a lump sum of $1m at any time prior to start of production.

Conclusion: The disposal of the gold assets should reduce Tertiary Minerals’ administrative overhead in maintaining the licences as the company progresses its fluorspar projects in the US and Scandinavia.

*SP Angel act as Nomad and broker to Tertiary Minerals

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:34:00 +0000
Northland Capital Partners View on the City - Starcom Plc Starcom (LON:STAR) – CORP*:  FY16 Results

Market Cap: £3.2m; Current Price: 2.2p; Target Price: Under Review

Revenue $5.13m, reduced operating loss (adj) of $1.09m


Starcom, specialist in the development of wireless solutions for remote asset tracking, monitoring and protection reported results for the year to December 31st 2016. Key points were:

Revenue for the year was $5.132m (2015: $5.131m)

Gross margin of 27.7% (2015: 40.3%) inclusive of an inventory write-down of $0.50m, or 37% if adjusted for the write-down.  Starcom reported the impact of reduced  SAS revenue            (-11%YoY).

An Operating loss of $(1.737)m on a reported basis (FY15:$(1.560)m).  The FY16 operating loss on an adjusted basis was $(1.09)m compared to $(1.56)m in FY15.   The company achieved cost savings of $0.52m, with General and Admin expenses reduced by 18%YoY.

SAS revenues up 8.8% to $1.75m (2015: $1.6m).

Adjusted PAT loss of  $(1.36)m (2015 loss: $(1.76m)).

Starcom reports segment-based revenue in four categories:

1. Revenue from the sale of hardware (‘Sets’) was $3.128m (FY15: $3.238m), -3.4%YoY.

2. Revenue in the SAS category was $1.749m (FY15:1.608m), +8.8%.

3. The sum of Accessories and Other revenue was $0.255m (FY15:0.285m), -10.5%.

Starcom noted that its core Helios product range accounted for 76% of total hardware revenue excluding SAS; this compares to 75.3% in FY15.  It reported that: “the new Watchlock Pro was launched in the second half of the year and was well received in the market.  Initial orders were received in the fourth quarter but it proved impossible to fulfil these orders due to the failure of our partner Mul-T-Lock to deliver their parts to us by the year end. We expect that this problem will be resolved shortly, but inevitably it has delayed the expected sales from this product.”  It noted that Watchlock Pro will be brought in-house to streamline delivery and remove reliance on third party partner. 

Starcom announced the launch in January 2017 of a new track-and-trace smartphone application, Zeppos, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store to enable the device as a tracking asset.

The reported year-end cash position was $35,000 (FY15: $90,000). Starcom notes that it has “sufficient loan facilities” to meet cashflow requirements.

NORTHLAND CAPITAL PARTNERS VIEW: In its February 27th Trading Update Starcom had indicated that revenue would be ”not less than” US$5.2m; this compared to our prior estimate of $5.4m.  As it highlights today the shortfall was attributable to Watchlock component supplier delays and, secondly, to reduced SAS revenues following from a delay in services connection by a major customer.  Starcom has maintained the pace of new product development (e.g. Zippos) and emphasis on value-added SAS revenues.  It has identified sales and marketing as the priority for 2017; given the success in further cost reduction, progress in securing revenue should positively impact profitability.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:31:00 +0000
In the Papers - Co-operative Bank, Fiat, Emirates, Aldi Newspaper Summary

The Times

Government loans sale is pulled at the last moment: A secret privatisation plan to raise £600 million by selling a portfolio of government business loans and packaging them into a high-yielding listed investment vehicle has been ditched, The Times has learnt.

Early rate rise comes closer as economy strengthens: Sterling jumped by more than a cent to a three-week high against the dollar on the back of solid economic data that raised the hint of an early rise in interest rates.

Fund managers do not take enough risks, says Woodford: Neil Woodford told the House of Lords’ science and technology committee that pension funds had stopped investing in U.K. innovation and that long-term investors such as him were in an “extreme minority sport”.

Exporters cash in on sterling’s weakness: The lower pound has helped manufacturers to deliver the highest rise in export orders in more than three years, the CBI said, making companies more optimistic about the future than at any time in the past two decades.

Avon lady calls on trusty make-up bag: The Avon lady appeared to be on her last legs, struggling to sell door-to-door as online rivals muscled in on her market, but it seems that a bit of make-up here (and some discreet trimming of the fat there) could yet do wonders for one of America’s best-known, longest-established retail phenomenons.

Co-op sets deadline for bank bidders: Bidders for the Co-operative Bank have been told they have a fortnight to submit offers so that it can decide whether a sale is viable or if it will have to pursue more radical action to stem its losses.

Roll up for end of the pier show: A new fish and chip takeaway, a Christmas market and a website have been pulling in the customers at Brighton Palace Pier, offsetting some of the trading hit from the Southern Railway industrial dispute.

Arm’s new chip steers it towards driverless cars: Arm Holdings, best known for its hold on the phone chip market, has unveiled a new microprocessor targeted at emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and driverless cars.

Fiat is latest to face diesel cheat inquiry: The diesel emissions scandal widened as French prosecutors announced the opening of a criminal inquiry into allegations that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rigged anti-pollution tests.

Runaway house prices are poised to hit brakes: House prices rose by 6.2% in the year to January according to official figures, but a significant downward revision for November and December suggest a less buoyant property market than previously thought.

Troubled Bovis gives ex-Chief Executive £500,000 payoff: The former Chief Executive of Bovis Homes has been handed more than £500,000 in salary, bonus and benefits as part of his payoff.

Jones banks leadership role number 2: Eddie Jones has picked up his second job in the banking industry since taking over as head coach of the England rugby union team two years ago.

The Independent

Nearly one in seven retiring this year made no financial provisions: Nearly one in seven people retiring this year have made no financial provision for their retirement, and more than one in ten will be either totally or partially dependent on the state pension when they stop working, according to new research.

UN asks U.K. government to pause Hinkley nuclear reactor development: A United Nations committee has asked the U.K. to suspend work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, pending assessment of the environmental impact.

U.K.’s biggest retailers have cut ‘nearly 4,000 staff this year’: About 4,000 shop employees have reportedly been made redundant this year as major retailers find new ways to save money despite having to implement the national living wage.

Stopping climate change could boost the world economy by £15 trillion: Efforts to slow climate change won’t just keep the planet habitable. They will also boost the world economy by $19 trillion (£15.2 trillion).

How the world’s biggest banks will react to Brexit: Big investment banks will begin the process of moving some London-based operations into new hubs inside the EU within weeks after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set a date to trigger the formal mechanism for quitting the bloc.

Emirates ‘has not been informed’ of Trump’s new inflight restrictions: The biggest airline thought to be affected by a ban on electronic devices by the U.S. authorities says it has not heard from the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) or its subsidiary, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Google and Facebook are now paying full tax in Australia: Tech giants Google and Facebook are now paying taxes in Australia based on revenues made in the country, instead of shifting income abroad to low-tax countries, the government has said.

Aldi customers urged to stay away from fake £65 vouchers: Aldi customers have been warned to stay away from hoax vouchers circulating on email and social media which trick shoppers into thinking that they can save money.

Minis could be latest victim of Brexit as BMW Boss hints at moving production out of U.K.: BMW hinted it may move production of the iconic Mini from England to continental Europe as a result of the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU.

The Daily Telegraph

Global funds think equities overvalued but keep buying, as U.S. markets take a dive: Global fund managers say stock markets are more overvalued than at any time this century, but are continuing to buy equities aggressively, betting the day of reckoning is a way off yet.

Bank of England ‘gets’ concerns around standards after Charlotte Hogg’s resignation, but industry can learn from it, says Mark Carney: The Governor of the Bank of England has defended the way it handled Charlotte Hogg’s resignation, saying that the banking industry can draw lessons from the incident.

Endeavour Mining dumps £3 billion gold merger talks with Acacia: The £3 billion gold mining merger talks between Acacia Mining and Canada’s Endeavour Mining have been brought to a halt, weeks after the Tanzanian government slapped Acacia with an export ban on its copper and gold concentrate.

Safestore becomes latest company to drop pay policy after threat of investor revolt: Safestore has become the latest company to drop changes to its Directors’ pay and benefits after coming under pressure from its shareholders.

Mears exits one-fifth of care contracts amid continued funding gaps: Outsourcing company Mears has ditched one-fifth of its care contracts as the industry struggles to make a profit amid funding cuts.

Fears for Moorside as Toshiba ‘lining up’ $500 million bankruptcy backstop for Westinghouse nuclear arm: Fears that Toshiba’s struggling nuclear business Westinghouse could be on the brink of going under have been reignited following reports that it is lining up a U.S. bankruptcy protection finance package.

The Questor Column:

Buy Halma, a great ‘get rich slow’ stock: When it is used properly – and when things go well – the stock market can be a very effective “get rich slow” scheme. Halma is a great example of why. The FTSE 250 firm provides a solution to a problem, in that its hazard detection and life protection systems, locks and devices help companies meet regulatory requirements and keep staff and customers safe. A forward yield of 1.5% might not look exciting but the company has grown its annual dividend by at least 5% a year since 1980, a run that analysts believe will continue with the full-year results in June. During that 37-year span the share price has risen from barely 4p to 975p – and it’s likely that, had investors known the firm would pay a dividend of around 13.7p in 2017, they would have found that 4p entry price pretty irresistible. This is not to say that Halma’s share price is invulnerable. A forward earnings multiple of 25 times for the financial year about to end and 22 times for the next year represent a big premium to the wider market. Questor says ‘Buy’.

Update: Devro: Judging by the full-year results released earlier this month, the turnaround story at sausage skin maker Devro has yet to really start sizzling but we have a small profit to show and can afford to be patient. Last year’s 6.6% drop in volumes reflected reduced demand in Latin America, China and Russia, while the stated operating profit slid by 25% to £15.4 million. The good news is that, in response, the management has launched its “Devro 100” programme, designed to boost sales and profits. The bad is that this initiative will burden the profit and loss account with an extra £10 million – £12 million of costs in 2017 18 and involve an additional £7 million   £8 million in capital investment. However, management felt confident enough to keep the dividend unchanged at 8.8p, enough for a 4.5% yield, and the fundamentals of the collagen skin market look sound enough. The shares are not without risk but Devro could still prove a tasty morsel. Questor says ‘Hold’.

The Guardian

Goldman Sachs to move hundreds of staff out of London due to Brexit: Goldman Sachs is to start moving hundreds of staff out of London before a Brexit deal is struck, the bank’s European Boss has confirmed.

Coal in ‘freefall’ as new power plants dive by two-thirds: The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by nearly two-thirds last year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in freefall.

Police to examine ‘Global Laundromat’ money laundering allegations: Fraud investigators have launched a review of the activities of Britain’s high street banks following revelations in the Guardian about a $20 billion money laundering scam that MPs described as a national disgrace and scandal.

Oil theft ‘provides billions for terrorists and drug cartels’: Oil theft is fuelling terrorist groups and drug cartels around the world, according to a new analysis.

Waitrose axes free coffee for shoppers – unless they buy something first: Waitrose is cracking down on free-loading coffee drinkers by forcing members of its loyalty scheme to buy something before pouring themselves a free hot drink.

Viagogo snubs MPs’ inquiry into online ticket reselling: Controversial ticket resale website Viagogo was accused of “naked mis-selling and fraud”, as it delivered an almost unprecedented snub to MPs by failing to show up for a select committee hearing.

Daily Mail

Posh tonic water maker Fevertree fizzes 2.5% despite some early profit-taking: The FTSE 100 narrowly missed out on a fourth day of record highs, closing down 51.47 points at 7378.34, or 0.7%.

Government borrowing at lowest level for a decade as families pay a record £18.1 billion of self-assessment income tax: Booming tax receipts have pushed Government borrowing down to the lowest level for nearly a decade, figures showed.

Frenchman who tried to sell London Stock Exchange to the Germans pocketed £5.7 million last year: The London Stock Exchange Chief Executive who led calls to sell his business to the Germans pocketed £5.7 million last year.

Domino’s Boss made 5p off every pizza the firm sold last year - trebling his pay packet to £4.5 million: The Chief Executive of Domino’s Pizza has more than trebled his pay packet after pocketing £4.5 million – about 5p for every pizza the firm made.

Homebuilder Bellway wary of backlash over the sale of new-build homes with leases: One of Britain’s leading housebuilders has admitted the industry has a ‘problem’ amid a fierce backlash over the sale of new-build homes with leases.

Investing in the Co-op Bank is riskier than investing in Italian finance with interest rates on bonds at 39%: Investing in the Co-op Bank is considered more risky than even Italy’s troubled financial stocks. Interest rates on bonds at the bank are 39% – twice as high than in banks such as Veneto Banca which is in need of emergency funding from the Italian banking sector.

Sainsbury’s Director Mary Harris to step down from the board after nine years: Sainsbury’s Director Mary Harris is stepping down from the board after nine years. Harris, 50, is being replaced as Chairman of the grocer’s remuneration committee by Susan Rice.

Website’s fit for a Princess: Duchess of Cambridge and Pippa Middleton inspire a collection at Koovs: The Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton have inspired a collection at online fashion retailer Koovs.

Daily Express

The last call for savers to cash in on tax relief: Savers have been urged to make full use of pension tax relief amid fears it could soon be scaled back or scrapped.

Factories tool up for exports as demand for U.K.-made products rise: Britain’s factories are gearing up for their biggest overseas push for more than two decades as a weaker pound drives demand for U.K.-made products.

Businesses ‘face scrap for foreign staff’ as immigration rules tighten: Companies in every business sector will be competing for a reduced pool of workers because of expected migration controls, according to a new report.

Brexit is good news for Britain, say rich investors living in U.K.: Millionaires and wealthy investors living in Britain believe the U.K.’s exit from the European Union (EU) will have a positive effect on the country, a survey has revealed.

‘Don’t overreact’ Mark Carney warning as cost of living hits highest level since 2013: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned against “overreacting” after U.K. inflation surged to its highest level in more than three years in February in a blow to British families and savers.

Manufacturing reaches two-year high thanks to weaker pound: Britain’s economy is set to benefit from a stronger manufacturing sector as it gears up to leave the European Union, after output soared to its highest level in more than two years.

The Scottish Herald

Asian brewery next on Brewdog’s list: The self-styled captain of Aberdeenshire craft-beer maker Brewdog has revealed that the firm is on the hunt for a brewery site in Asia after unveiling turnover growth of 61% for the 2016 year.

Scots Chairman of stock exchange says EU needs successful London: The Scot who chairs the London Stock Exchange, Donald Brydon, has played down fears about the impact of Brexit on the City saying the European Union needs the Square Mile to be successful.

Bellway says independence won’t change Scottish plan: Housebuilder Bellway has said Scottish independence would not impact its growth strategy north of the Border.

Faroe Petroleum hails transformational year and outlines bold five-year production plan: Faroe Petroleum said a “transformational” 2016 has left it well-placed for organic and acquisitive growth.

RBS Chief says fintech will help bank to stay relevant: Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Executive Ross McEwan has said that the rapid uptake of mobile and digital banking as well as advances in financial technology mean the organisation is becoming “more and more a financial services company with good technology” than a traditional bank, writes Margaret Taylor.

Bowleven launches strategic review of options open to firm: Bowleven has started a strategic review which could result in the sale of the oil and gas company. Following a boardroom shake up last week, Edinburgh-based Bowleven said it would review all options available to the company in the interest of maximising value for all shareholders.

North Sea player targets further cost cuts: North Sea-focused EnQuest expects to ramp up cash generation in coming month with the giant Kraken heavy oilfield due to come onstream off Shetland but wants to make further cost cuts across its supply chain.

Scots tourism businesses told to gear up for cyclists: Tourism businesses are being urged to do more to capitalise on the country’s growing reputation among visitors who come to Scotland for cycling breaks, as research revealed the market is worth £345 million to the economy.

Ardgowan Distillery in £17 million fundraiser: The company which plans to build a distillery on Inverclyde land with historic links to Robert the Bruce is looking to raise £17 million to fund its development.

The Scotsman

Cost of living fears mount as inflation hits 2.3%: Rising fuel and food prices have pushed inflation beyond the Bank of England’s 2% target to hit its highest level since September 2013.

Goals eyes ‘dozens’ of U.S. sites as sales accelerate: The new Chief Executive of five-a-side football firm Goals Soccer Centres is hopeful that the East Kilbride company could have “dozens” of sites across the U.S. after seeing it move back into the black.

Glasgow smart meters firm hails ‘transformation’: Smart Metering Systems (SMS) posted a 4% rise in profits following a “year of transformation” for the Glasgow company.

Small firms say EU trading a priority after Brexit: Unimpeded access to EU markets is vital for Britain’s smaller firms in Brexit negotiations, and one in four would be deterred from exporting there if even a very small tariff was introduced, suggests a report.

Greater efforts required to fund female-led firms: A new report is calling for widespread measures to help women entrepreneurs overcome the ‘frustrating’ hurdle of access to funding.

City A.M.

Transport for London (TfL) pushes ahead with “rigorous approach” to cost-cutting as it unveils draft budget for 2017/18: London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown said Transport for London (TfL) is continuing a “rigorous approach” to driving costs down in its “biggest ever overhaul”, as it unveils a draft budget for 2017/18.

Renters twice as likely to have no savings than mortgage holders, report reveals: Private renters are twice as likely to have no savings than mortgage holders and regularly cut back on food, new figures reveal.

City Brexit deal risks being undermined if the government ignores professional services, as House of Lords report warns comprehensive free-trade agreements will be need for services sectors: Professional services have not received the attention they deserve in the run-up to the Brexit negotiations, the chair of a House of Lords committee has warned, and that could undermine any deal secured for the financial sector.

Nike hit by fierce U.S. competition and a strong dollar: Nike shares fell over one% in U.S. trading after its third quarter revenue numbers failed to impress the market.

Uber’s facing a fresh legal challenge - this time over VAT: Uber is facing a fresh lawsuit, this time over VAT payments, from a tax lawyer who is also fighting Brexit in the Irish Courts.

Online retail sales maintains double-digit growth - but sales from smartphones slow: Online retail sales maintained double-digit growth in February, but there are signs that sales on smartphones are faltering.

Bank of New York Mellon and Commerzbank to do battle in U.S. court over $1 billion of losses: A U.S. court has ruled Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) must face Commerzbank over claims it is liable for $1 billion (£800 million) of losses incurred by the German lender from toxic assets it bought.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:17:00 +0000
Market Briefing - UK markets closed in the red yesterday UK Market Snapshot

UK markets closed in the red yesterday, as the Pound strengthened after data showed that the UK consumer price inflation rose more than expected in February. Berendsen tumbled 5.3%, following a broker downgrade on the stock to ‘Underweight’ from ‘Equal weight’. Miners, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto declined 4.0% and 4.1%, respectively, tracking losses in copper prices. Banks, HSBC Holdings, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Lloyds Banking Group dropped 0.6%, 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively. Bucking the trend, precious metal miners, Randgold Resources and Fresnillo gained 0.6% and 1.6%, respectively, amid higher gold prices. Bellway added 0.3%, after the housebuilder stated that it would raise its interim dividend as it posted a rise in its half-yearly pre-tax profit. The FTSE 100 declined 0.7%, to close at 7,378.3, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.9%, to settle at 18,988.0.

US Market Snapshot

US markets closed in negative territory yesterday, with major indices posting their biggest single session drop in five months, weighed down by a sell-off in financial and industrial sector stocks. Ryerson Holding, Cliffs Natural Resources and AK Steel Holding plunged 5.2%, 10.1% and 10.4%, respectively. Bank of America, Huntington Bancshares and KeyCorp tumbled 5.8%, 6.1% and 6.5%, respectively. Lennar declined 2.7%, despite the housebuilder reporting upbeat profit and sales for the first quarter. Apple dropped 1.2%. The company announced a new version of iPad and special editions of iPhone models and introduced its Snapchat-like app. General Mills fell 0.8%, after the company’s sales for the third quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations. The S&P 500 slipped 1.2%, to settle at 2,344.0. The DJIA shed 1.1%, to settle at 20,668.0, while the NASDAQ slid 1.8%, to close at 5,793.8.

Europe Market Snapshot

Other European markets ended lower yesterday, led by losses in commodity sector stocks. Fingerprint Cards tanked 31.8%, after the company warned that its revenue would drop more than 50.0% in the first quarter and withdrew its proposal to pay dividend. Galenica fell 4.0%, after the Swiss competition watchdog announced that the company’s HCI Solutions unit would be fined CHF4.5 million for abusing its market-leading position to freeze rivals out of the services market. On the positive side, Akzo Nobel advanced 2.0%, on the back of a report that PPG Industries is preparing another takeover bid for the former after its first attempt failed earlier in March. The FTSEurofirst 300 index declined 0.5%, to close at 1,481.0. Among other European markets, the German DAX Xetra 30 slid 0.8%, to close at 11,962.1, while the French CAC-40 shed 0.2%, to settle at 5,002.4.

Asia Market Snapshot

Markets in Asia are trading weaker this morning, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street amid growing uncertainty over Trump’s economic growth agenda. In Japan, exporters, Canon, Sony and Panasonic have declined 1.5%, 1.9% and 2.9%, respectively, as the Japanese Yen strengthened against its US peer. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding has fallen 0.5%. Media reported that the company would announce the main points of its revised business restructuring plans in order to accelerate reforms and boost its earnings to meet the costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In Hong Kong, oil firms, PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinopec Oilfield Service have dropped 1.9%, 2.0% and 2.6%, respectively. In South Korea, index majors, Samsung Electronics and POSCO have slipped 1.2% and 3.9%, respectively. The Nikkei 225 index is trading 2.0% lower at 19,074.1. The Hang Seng index is trading 1.4% down at 24,251.1, while the Kospi index is trading 0.6% lower at 2,164.3.

Key Corporate Announcements Today


BlackRock Throgmorton Trust, CC Japan Income & Growth Trust, RM, Safestore Holdings


Real Estate Credit Investments, RM

Final Dividend Payment Date

Lancashire Holdings Limited

Interim Dividend Payment Date

JPMorgan Elect Managed Growth Shares, JPMorgan Elect Managed Income Shares

Quarterly Payment Date

UIL Limited (DI)

Key Corporate Announcements for Tomorrow


Crest Nicholson Holdings, Electra Private Equity, Octopus Titan VCT, Jarvis Securities



Final Ex-Dividend Date

BlackRock Latin American Inv Trust, Bovis Homes Group, Fidelity European Values, Heavitree Brewery, Heavitree Brewery 'A' Shares, John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd, Meggitt, Octopus AIM VCT 2, Private & Commercial Finance Group, SEGRO

Final Dividend Payment Date

32RED, Treatt

Interim Ex-Dividend Date

BlackRock Commodities Income Inv Trust, Brooks Macdonald Group, Chelverton Small Companies Dividend Trust, Clinigen Group, Close Brothers Group, Dunelm Group, Foresight Solar & Infrastructure VCT, Galliford Try, NWF Group, Redrow, Thorpe (F.W.), Tristel

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Murgitroyd Group, Ruffer Investment Company Ltd Red PTG Pref Shares

Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date

Funding Circle SME Income Fund

Key Economic News

UK retail price index ex-mort int. payments rose more than expected in February

The retail price index ex-mort int. payments in the UK recorded a rise of 3.50% on an annual basis in February, higher than market expectations for a rise of 3.10%. The retail price index ex-mort int. payments had registered a rise of 2.90% in the previous month.

UK CBI trends selling prices surprisingly dropped in March

CBI trends selling prices in the UK dropped unexpectedly to 29.00 in March, compared to market expectations of an unchanged reading. CBI trends selling prices had registered a level of 32.00 in the previous month.

UK retail price index climbed in February

The retail price index in the UK climbed 1.10%, on MoM basis, to a level of 268.40 in February, higher than market expectations of 267.50. The retail price index had registered a reading of 265.50 in the prior month.

UK public sector net borrowing reported a deficit in February

The public sector net borrowing in the UK has reported a deficit £1.10 billion in February, as compared to a revised surplus of £11.70 billion in the previous month. Market anticipation was for public sector net borrowing to post a deficit of £2.80 billion.

UK PPI core output advanced less than expected in February

The non-seasonally adjusted producer price index (PPI) core output in the UK advanced 2.40% on an annual basis in February, compared to a revised advance of 2.50% in the prior month. Markets were anticipating PPI core output to climb 2.50%.

UK core CPI advanced more than expected in February

In the UK, the core consumer price index (CPI) registered a rise of 2.00% on an annual basis in February, higher than market expectations for a rise of 1.70%. In the previous month, the core CPI had advanced 1.60%.

UK CPI rose more than expected in February

On an annual basis, the CPI in the UK climbed 2.30% in February, higher than market expectations for an advance of 2.10%. In the prior month, the CPI had advanced 1.80%.

UK public sector net cash requirement reported a deficit in February

In the UK, public finances (public sector net cash requirement) has reported a deficit of £12.90 billion in February, from a revised surplus of £22.70 billion in the previous month.

UK input PPI surprisingly fell in February

In February, the non-seasonally adjusted input PPI in the UK registered an unexpected drop of 0.40% on a monthly basis, compared to a revised rise of 1.60% in the previous month. Markets were expecting input PPI to climb 0.10%.

UK PPI core output remained flat in February

On a MoM basis, the non-seasonally adjusted PPI core output remained steady in February, in the UK, compared to a revised advance of 0.50% in the previous month. Markets were expecting PPI core output to rise 0.20%.

UK house price index rose less than expected in January

On a YoY basis, the house price index in the UK climbed 6.20% in January, compared to a revised advance of 5.70% in the prior month. Markets were expecting the house price index to advance 6.40%.

UK retail price index rose more than expected in February

In the UK, the retail price index climbed 3.20% on a YoY basis in February, more than market expectations for a rise of 2.90%. The retail price index had advanced 2.60% in the prior month.

UK public sector net borrowing posted a deficit in February

In the UK, the public sector net borrowing (excluding temporary effects of financial interventions) has posted a deficit £1.80 billion in February, following a revised surplus of £11.00 billion in the previous month. Markets were anticipating public sector net borrowing to post a deficit of £3.20 billion.

UK CPI advanced more than expected in February

On a MoM basis in the UK, the CPI advanced 0.70% in February, higher than market expectations for a rise of 0.50%. The CPI had fallen 0.50% in the previous month.

UK output PPI advanced as expected in February

The non-seasonally adjusted output PPI rose 3.70% on a YoY basis in the UK in February, in line with market expectations. In the prior month, output PPI had climbed by a revised 3.60%.

UK output PPI rose less than expected in February

The non-seasonally adjusted output PPI recorded a rise of 0.20% in the UK, on a monthly basis in February, lower than market expectations for an advance of 0.30%. In the prior month, output PPI had recorded a revised rise of 0.60%.

UK balance of firms reporting total order book above normal remained steady in March

That the balance of firms reporting total order book above normal remained flat at 8.00 in the UK, in March, compared to market expectations of a drop to a level of 5.00.

UK input PPI rose less than expected in February

In February, the non-seasonally adjusted input PPI rose 19.10% in the UK on a YoY basis, lower than market expectations for a rise of 20.10%. In the previous month, input PPI had advanced by a revised 20.10%.

Spanish trade deficit expanded in January

In January, trade deficit in Spain expanded to €3.13 billion, from a trade deficit of €2.45 billion in the previous month.

Swiss M3 money supply rose in February

On a YoY basis, M3 money supply in Switzerland registered a rise of 3.10% in February. In the previous month, M3 money supply had risen 2.90%.

Swiss exports slid in February

In Switzerland, exports dropped 2.20% in February on a MoM basis. Exports had dropped by a revised 3.60% in the previous month.

Swiss trade surplus dropped in February

Trade surplus in Switzerland fell to CHF 3.11 billion in February. Switzerland had registered a revised trade surplus of CHF 4.83 billion in the prior month.

Swiss imports rose in February

On a MoM basis, imports rose 2.90% in Switzerland, in February. Imports had dropped by a revised 3.90% in the previous month.

US Redbook index rose in the last week

The Redbook index recorded a rise of 1.20% on a YoY basis in the US, in the week ended 17 March 2017. The Redbook index had registered a rise of 1.30% in the prior week.

US current account deficit dropped in 4Q 2016

Current account deficit in the US narrowed to $112.40 billion in 4Q 2016, from a revised current account deficit of $116.00 billion in the prior quarter. Market expectation was for the country's current account deficit to widen to $129.00 billion.

US Redbook index fell in the last week

On a monthly basis, the seasonally adjusted Redbook index slid 0.60% in the US, in the week ended 17 March 2017. In the previous week, the Redbook index had registered a similar fall.

Canadian retail sales rose more than expected in January

On a monthly basis, retail sales climbed 2.20% in January, in Canada, higher than market expectations for a rise of 1.50%. Retail sales had registered a revised drop of 0.40% in the prior month.

Canadian retail sales (ex-autos) advanced more than expected in January

In January, on a MoM basis, retail sales (ex-autos) in Canada registered a rise of 1.70%, more than market expectations for an advance of 1.30%. In the prior month, retail sales (ex-autos) had registered a revised drop of 0.50%.

BoJ January meeting minutes: Officials highlighted financial market risk

Minutes of the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) January monetary policy meeting showed that board members rejected the notion of the central bank raising its 10-year government bond yield target in the future to match expected gains in treasury yields. Members held the view that Japan’s inflation and growth will accelerate in the near future, but it remains a difficult task due to concerns about greater uncertainty in global financial markets.

Japan recorded merchandise (total) trade surplus in February

Japan has reported merchandise (total) trade surplus of ¥813.40 billion in February, from a revised merchandise (total) trade deficit of ¥1087.60 billion in the previous month. Market anticipation was for a merchandise (total) trade surplus of ¥807.20 billion.

Japanese adjusted merchandise trade surplus expanded in February

Adjusted merchandise trade surplus in Japan rose to ¥680.30 billion in February, following a revised adjusted merchandise trade surplus of ¥204.00 billion in the previous month. Markets were anticipating the nation to post a adjusted merchandise trade surplus of ¥550.80 billion.

Japanese exports advanced more than expected in February

Exports in Japan climbed 11.30% in February on a YoY basis, higher than market expectations for an advance of 10.10%. Exports had registered a rise of 1.30% in the prior month.

Japanese imports advanced less than expected in February

In February, imports advanced 1.20% on a YoY basis in Japan, lower than market expectations for a rise of 1.30%. Imports had recorded a rise of 8.50% in the prior month.

Japanese convenience store sales dropped in February

Convenience store sales in Japan fell 1.70% on an annual basis, in February. Convenience store sales had risen 0.10% in the prior month.

Chinese leading economic index rose in February

In February, on a monthly basis, the leading economic index in China registered a rise of 1.20%. In the prior month, the leading economic index had advanced 1.10%.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:10:00 +0000