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FTSE 100 finishes little changed as traders lack sentiment driver

The UK index of premier shares closed up around three points, or 0.05% at 6,036

BP PLC -
London shares were generally muted on Tuesday although the FTSE 250 did advance 149 points
  • FTSE closes three points up
  • Sterling taking a bath on forex markets against the greenback
  • US indices mixed

5.15pm: FTSE closes near flat

FTSE 100 index finished near flat on Tuesday after a volatile last few minutes before the close.

The UK index of premier shares closed up around three points, or 0.05% at 6,036 as traders had little macro-economic news as a major catalyst either way.

On Wall Street, stocks were mixed as pressure grows for Washington DC to reach am accord over the US$1 trillion Covid-19 pandemic package.

The relationship between the US and China has also come under extra pressure as President Trump has banned TikTok in the US, and Microsoft are looking to acquire the group’s US unit, noted analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets.

"The Chinese government feel the Trump administration is giving a US company the greenlight to pick-off the business. Dealers are cautious that Beijing will strike back in some shape or form."

US and Canada 4pm/11 EST

Wall Street shares got off to a relatively positive start. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added over 114 points at 26,778. The broader based S&P 500 index added around seven points at 3,301. The tech heavy Nasdaq added nearly seven at 3,302. Meanwhile, in Canada, the S&P/TSX index advanced over 166 points to stand at 16,335.

Proactive North America headlines:

Great Bear Resources (CVE:GBR) (OTCQX:GTBAF) hails yet more decent drill assays from LP Fault at Dixie project

Ipsidy (OTCQB:IDTY) and Intellicheck team up to fight identity theft and account takeovers with ID and facial verification technology and Intellicheck team up to fight identity theft and account takeovers with ID and facial verification technology

Japan Gold (CVE:JG) (OTCQB:JGLDF) kicks off the first of this year's drill programs at Ohra-Takamine project

First Mining Gold (TSE:FF) (OTCQX:FFMGF) intersects 173.9 grams per ton gold as it wraps up drilling at its flagship Goldlund project

Hillcrest Petroleum (CVE:HRH) (OTCMKTS:HLRTF) raises more than $1 million in up-sized financing to fund West Hazel oil asset in Saskatchewan

American Resources (NASDAQ:AREC) says JTC Team to continue as its investor relations and corporate communications advisor

GlobeX Data Ltd (OTCQB:SWISF) (CSE:SWIS),named among 50 Best Companies to watch in 2020 by The Silicon Review

Antibe Therapeutics Inc (CVE:ATE)  (OTCQB:ATBPF) says it has a clear path to billion-dollar revenue from its lead drug ATB-346

Medallion Resources (CVE:MDL) (OTCMKTS:MLLOF) boosts its production plans as it partners with rare earth specialist Talaxis

Australis Capital  (CSE:AUSA) (OTCMKTS:AUSAF) announces the termination by Passport Technology of pending acquisition agreement

2.55pm: NASDAQ Composite continues to defy gravity

As expected, US indices opened lower, albeit not as weakly as expected – and in the case of the NASDAQ Composite, not lower at all.

The Dow Jones was down just 29 points (0.1%) at 26,636 and the S&P off just two points (0.1%) at 3,292, while the NASDAQ hit another high, rising 6 points (0.1%) to 10,909.

In London, after being stuck in cement throughout the lunchtime period, the Footsie is now 17 points (0.3%) in the red at 6,016.

1.50pm: US stocks to give back some of yesterday's gains

US indices are expected to open lower, giving back some of yesterday’s gains, as fiscal stimulus talks in Washington get bogged down.

The Dow Jones average is seen opening at around 26,596, down 68 points, and the S&P 500 is expected to shed 14 points to open at 3,281.

In London, the FTSE 100 has barely moved two or three points in either direction in the last hour or so and is currently unchanged at 6,033, despite sterling once again struggling against the US dollar.

The pound was buying just US$1.2996, more than three-quarters of a cent down on the day.

1.10pm: Footsie still going round in circles

The Footsie was still going round in circles, one leg tethered a pole, during lunchtime trading.

London’s index of leading shares was down by just over one point at 6,031.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 was faring marginally better, up 40 points (0.2%) at 17,198, thanks in part to a warm welcome given to the results of low-cost airline easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ).

Shares in the orange liveried airline rose 8.5% to 550.2p after its fiscal third-quarter performance was in line with expectations.

“Sun-seekers have provided an unexpected boost to easyJet’s performance in the last few weeks. Destinations like Nice have proved popular as Brits sought a getaway after so many months of travel bans. The net effect of this trend is that capacity guidance for the fourth quarter has been upgraded to around 40%, up from 30%,” reported Sophie Lund-Yates at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“While this is better than hoped for, and the progress shouldn’t be knocked, traveller numbers are still markedly below normal levels,” she continued.

“With its end-market having shrunk so much, the size of the workforce must fall in line,” Lund-Yates declared.

Some companies are already swinging the axe, including FTSE 250 consumer electronics pedlar Dixons Carphone PLC (LON:DC.).

READ Dixons Carphone, Pizza Express in latest round of proposed redundancies with 1,900 jobs potentially culled

The shares rose 3.4% to 77.05p after the retailer said up to 800 jobs will go as it moves to a flatter management structure in its shops.

Elsewhere in the FTSE 250, luxury car maker/massive loss maker Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC (LON:AML) reversed 0.7% to 57.15p despite Deutsche Bank lifting its target price to 45p from 35p following last week’s results.

11.30am: Oil and whisky

The Footsie was little changed in the second half of the morning, thanks in no small part to a favourable reaction to BP PLC’s (LON:BP.) update.

The FTSE 100 was up one point (0.0%) at 6,034 with a 7.6% increase for BP more or less offsetting a 5.4% fall for drinks giant Diageo PLC (LON:DGE).

The former was up despite posting a massive loss and cutting its dividend while the latter was down after the coronavirus outbreak dented sales and profits in the final quarter of its fiscal year.

Also lending support to the Footsie was Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO), the holding company that made an opportunistic but ill-timed takeover of aerospace and automotive engineer GKN.

Melrose shares were up 5.0% at 92.62p after it renegotiated its banking covenants; the looser requirements apply up to the end of 2022 after which the original financial covenants will be reinstated.

Elsewhere in the engineering sector, Babcock International Group PLC (LON:BAB) slumped 12% to 253.4p after it suspended dividend payments and posted a 40% in underlying profits.

READ Babcock fires blank on dividend but says demand remains resilient

Babcock’s chairperson Ruth Cairnie evidently thought the share price fall was overdone and bought 10,000 shares at just under 252p a pop.

10.45am: BP presses the reset button

The FTSE 100 was subdued on a big morning for corporate news – some well flagged, the remainder less so.

BP’s (LON:BP.) decision to half the dividend in the face of some pretty steep coronavirus losses was comprehensively trailed over the weekend. Even so, the news was greeted with relief and 7% rally of the share price.

“For quite some time now there has been ongoing speculation about the sustainability of BP’s dividend, against a backdrop of rising debt levels and concern around the company’s ability to continue to pay it in a world of lower oil prices, so this morning's decision to reduce the pay-out is welcome, even if it is long overdue,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

Relegated easyJet’s (LON:EZJ) better-than-expected recent performance drove the shares 10% higher and gave a boost to aero-engineers Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), up 6.6%, and GKN owner Melrose Industries (LON:MLRO), was up 5%.

In reverse gear was Smirnoff maker Diageo, which fell 5.4% after booking £1.3bn of COVID-related writedowns.

Among the small-caps Redx Pharma was the star as it soared 240% after inking a licensing deal with AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) worth and initial US$17m and US$360mln in further possible payments.

AZ will develop RXC006, a drug called a porcupine inhibitor that is being developed for fibrotic diseases.

Redx chief executive Lisa Anson said: "This agreement, where AstraZeneca will license this first in class porcupine inhibitor for IPF and progress it into development, highlights, once again, Redx's ability to generate molecules that have significant potential as novel medicines."

Proactive news headlines:

Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX) more than doubled in value on Tuesday as it said it has agreed a licensing deal for a novel fibrosis treatment with pharma giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN). The FTSE 100-listed group will pay US$17mln for an exclusive licence to develop Redx’s RXC006, a porcupine inhibitor, for fibrotic diseases. If the drug makes it to market, Redx will receive up to a further US$360mln in development and commercial milestones, plus tiered royalties. The new drug will target diseases such as Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), where progressive scarring of the lungs (fibrosis) is usually fatal and the prognosis worse than many cancers.

Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR), the molecular diagnostics company, has entered into a collaboration with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences to speed up coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. The plan is to fully automate the entire laboratory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing process for COVID-19. The two companies are working to combine and validate the Genedrive 96 SARS-CoV-2 Kit on the Biomek i7 automated workstation with saliva samples extracted using Beckman Coulter's RNAdvance viral extraction chemistry. Once validated, Beckman Coulter estimates that this new turnkey solution could process around 1,000 PCR samples per Biomek installed during a standard eight-hour working day, overseen by a lab technician for the equivalent of half a working day.

Immotion Group PLC (LON:IMMO, the immersive entertainment group, has said its largest installation to date opened for business on August 1 in Las Vegas. The 'Ocean Explorer Virtual Reality Theater' in the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, is a 36-seat virtual reality (VR) theatre complete with a full immersive pre-show area. Historically, Shark Reef Aquarium has enjoyed more than 500,000 visitors a year who purchase the standard aquarium ticket package. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a timed-entry ticketing system has been introduced at Shark Reef to facilitate physical distancing but the aquarium is still pulling in around 1,000 visitors a day.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) said its technology used to deliver pain medication and sexual health treatments through the skin barrier is proving successful in the field of cannabidiol (CBD). It has just completed initial laboratory and optimisation work on a gel called CBD100 using its DermaSys discovery to carry the payload. The lab work on human epidermis demonstrated “highly efficient penetration of cannabidiol into and through the skin”. Futura has now started to explore commercialisation options for CBD100 with joint-venture partner CBDerma as stability work continues in parallel.

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has followed its recent vaccines testing success with a clinical trial contract expected to deliver “significant revenue” over the next 12 months for its Venn Life Sciences business. Its team in Breda, in the Netherlands, will be working with client Carna Bioscience to oversee the first-in-human pharmacology study, providing expertise in areas such as pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. In the same announcement, it was confirmed that Venn’s chemistry, manufacturing and control team, also based in Breda, had won a contract extension with an unnamed Dutch firm.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) (ASX:THR) has announced the appointment of Mark McGeough to its board as a non-executive director with immediate effect. McGeough has worked with a number of Australian Mining Companies, including Chinova Resources Pty Ltd (formerly Ivanhoe Australia) where he was General Manager - Geology, and Toro Energy Limited where, as General manager Exploration, he was responsible for teams exploring for uranium in Australia and Namibia. Prior to these roles, he worked as Manager - Geological Survey with the South Australian government department of Primary Industries and Resources, and with Mount Isa Mines, Xstrata Copper and Zinc. Mick Billing, Thor Mining executive chairman commented: "Mark has an outstanding background as a geologist and manager of people and processes, and has a wealth of experience with commodities which are a particular focus for Thor, including copper, gold, molybdenum, and uranium, and we are very pleased to add his strengths to our team."

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) has noted the opening on Monday, August 4 of the new Genoa San Giorgio Bridge in Genoa which was constructed using Iterchimica's Gipave asphalt supermodifier for its road pavement, which contains graphene and a specific type of technically-selected plastic which is usually sent to waste-to-energy plants. The new bridge, replacing the old Morandi Bridge structure that collapsed on August 14, 2018, was completed just 22 months after the disaster to designs by Genoa born Renzo Piano.  Gipave was developed by Iterchimica with the support of Directa Plus and resulted from a three-year research programme with a patent filed in 2017. To date, two trials have been initiated or completed in the UK in Oxfordshire and Kent and seven more were carried out at various sites in Italy.

Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (NASDAQ:TLSA) (LON:TILS) said it has signed agreements with four contract research organisations (CROs) to expedite clinical development of COVID-19 treatment TZLS-501. The company said it intends to initiate the clinical study in the first quarter of 2021. TZLS-501 is a novel fully human mAb that binds to both the membrane-bound and soluble forms of IL-6R and rapidly depletes circulating levels of IL-6 in the blood. 

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has told investors that drilling is due to kick off in “the next few weeks” at the West Newton project, where an appraisal well will follow up last year’s successful discovery. The plan also includes the combined testing of the new well, West Newton B-1 (WNB-1), and the existing West Newton A-2 (WNA-2) discovery well. The base-case estimates for the project see some 146.4mln barrels of oil initially in place and 211.5bn cubic feet of gas, whilst the upside version anticipates 283mln barrels of oil and 265.9bn cubic feet of gas.

Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS), a provider of services to the video game industry, saw its organic revenue grow by 8% in the first half of 2020. In a trading update, the group said it expects to report first-half revenues of about €173.5mln, representing an increase of around 13% on the prior year’s €153.2mln, despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be in the region of €30.8mln, representing an increase of around 19% on the €25.8mln reported for the first half of last year. Adjusted profit before tax is expected to be around €21.7mln, up 18% or so from €18.4mln in the corresponding period of 2019.

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF) (OTCQB:NQMIY) said it produced record levels of metals concentrate from its Hellyer Gold Mine in Tasmania, Australia during July. The new plant at Hellyer delivered throughput of 106,365 tonnes of ore, or 1.25mln tonnes annualised, to produce record monthly lead concentrate of 4,075 tonnes. It also produced 1,509 tonnes of zinc concentrate, 461 ounces of gold and 89,854 ounces of silver.

Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd (LON:CGH) produced 26,960 ounces of gold equivalent from its Kapan mine in Armenia during the first half of 2020 and expects to produce 55,000 ounces of gold for the year. The company said it also took several steps to help alleviate the impact of coronavirus in its areas of operations in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, including donating beds and equipment to the medical centre of Kapan, providing diagnostic kits and masks, and providing computers to school children. It has had its first case of the virus at Tulkubash in Kyrgyzstan, and is taking all possible precautions there.

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR), the gold exploration and development company focused on Australia, said it has received notice to exercise warrants over 18,112,139 new ordinary shares in the company. Of this number, 10,612,139 new ordinary shares are being issued at 1.125p per share, and 7,500,000 new ordinary shares at 1p per share. Aggregate subscription monies of £194,386.56 have been received by ECR in respect of the exercise of these warrants.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) said it has allotted and issued 571,309 depositary interests of no par value each in the company Geodrill Limited, as partial satisfaction of invoiced costs to date associated with drilling at its projects in Cote d'Ivoire.

Curtis Banks Group PLC (LON:CBP), one of the UK's largest independent SIPP operators, said it will announce its full-year results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, on Thursday September 3, 2020. There will be a presentation at 9.30am for analysts that will be held virtually. Those wishing to attend should contact: [email protected]/

6.45am: Dull start predicted

The FTSE 100 is predicted to give up a small portion of its gains from the day before as traders take a breather on Tuesday.

London’s blue-chip index is headed for a 7-point fall, according to spread-betters on the IG platform, having gained 135 to finish at 6,032.85 a day earlier.

Overnight, the main Wall Street indices all finished higher, led by the tech-assisted Nasdaq Composite, which added another 1.5% as it notched up yet another record and closed at just over 10,902.

The Dow Jones rose 0.9% to 26,664.40, while the S&P 500 finished 0.7% higher.

Asian markets are almost all in the green on Tuesday, led by the Nikkei and the Hang Seng.

Positive manufacturing data helped boost sentiment in Europe and the US at the start of the week, along with chatter that politicians in Washington had productive talks on the next fiscal stimulus package.

“Call it a market rally, or a stock market inflation, the global equity markets are poised for more gains on the hope that more stimulus would support economies, or at least the stock prices,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

With Tuesday’s economic calendar rather light, there may be more focus on the big company news of the day, including from BP PLC (LON:BP.), Diageo (LON:DGE) and easyJet (LON:EZJ).

Around the markets

The pound: down 0.1% to US$1.3061

Gold: up 0.3% to US$1,991.4

Oil: Brent crude down 0.8% to US$43.80

7.15 am: Early Markets: Asia / Australia

Stocks in Asia Pacific traded higher today as the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate on hold.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.87% after retail sales data for June rose 2.7% month-on-month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

READ OUR ASX REPORT FOR MORE INFORMATION

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 1.63% while South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.1%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also higher with the Shanghai composite fractionally higher at 0.21%.

Proactive Australia news:

Great Southern Mining Ltd (ASX:GSN) has received multiple broad high-grade gold results from the latest drilling at its Cox’s Find Gold Project near Laverton in Western Australia which the company has described as "outstanding".

Chase Mining Corporation Ltd (ASX:CML) has received high-grade nickel-copper-PGE results from recently completed diamond drilling which enhance the potential of the Alotta Project in southwest Quebec, Canada.

Great Western Exploration Limited (ASX:GTE) has identified five new high-priority bedrock gold targets at the Golden Corridor Project within the Wiluna fault zone after undertaking initial aeromagnetic and geophysical analysis.

Galena Mining Ltd (ASX:G1A) has started a substantial drilling program at Abra Base Metals Project in Western Australia aimed at enhancing the base metals inventory as well as testing new gold-copper targets.

Cirralto Ltd (ASX:CRO) sees the 2020/21 financial year as being pivotal for the company as it transitions from a SaaS company to a digital payments service provider and experiences a marked step-up in customers using its Spenda suite of payment products.

Aeris Resources Ltd (ASX:AIS) has enjoyed a smooth transition since completing the acquisition of the Cracow Gold Operations in Queensland on July 1 2020.

Bellevue Gold Ltd (ASX:BGL) will close its share purchase plan (SPP) to raise up to $20 million this Friday, August, at 5pm Perth time.

Mako Gold Ltd (ASX:MKG) has enhanced the golden bounty of its Napié Gold Project in Côte d’Ivoire through broad high-grade results from ongoing drilling at the Tchaga prospect.

High Peak Royalties Ltd (ASX:HPR) is highly encouraged by developments within the Amadeus Basin, Northern Territory, where the company holds royalties in several oil & gas exploration and production licences.

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