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FTSE 100 finishes slightly lower amid thin volumes as Wall Street closed for Martin Luther King Day

Stop watching that documentary on slow-drying paint and check out the London stock market instead

Burberry Group PLC -
  • FTSE 100 index close down around 15 points
  • Footfall at British shops fell by 10.9% in the week to January 16 from the week before.
  • US markets closed today for a national holiday

5pm: FTSE 100 closes in red

FTSE 100 closed slightly in the red on Monday amid thin trading volumes as Wall Street was closed for Martin Luther King Day.

Britain's benchmark of leading shares finished the day down around 15 points at 6,720.

Conversely, midcap FTSE 250, and the more UK company-focused index, finished up over 23 points, at 20,639.

"The current environment is not exactly upbeat as things are getting worse with respect to the lockdowns. The British government has closed the air corridors, so passengers arriving from outside the UK will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test as well as self-isolating once they arrive in the country," noted David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets.

"Volatility in stocks has been low today because there has been no exciting headlines to spark interest in one direction or another," he added.

Madden added that President-elect Joe Biden may announce, following a $1.9 trillion stimulus package last week, further stimulus aimed at investing in infrastructure and green energy, but that might not be for weeks, so some potential share buyers might stay on the sidelines in the near-term.

3.45pm: Footfall at Uk retailers fell last week, albeit less severely

Footfall at British shops fell by 10.9% in the week to January 16 from the week before.

Market research group Springboard said the fall was due to the impact of new lockdown restrictions introduced by the government.

Footfall was down 14.6% in shopping centres, down 11.5% in high streets and 5.8% lower in retail parks.

In the preceding week – the first of the new lockdown – footfall had fallen 27.1% from the week before.

Year-on-year footfall was down 67.5%.

“The annual decline in footfall has still not equalled either the lowest level in lockdown one or even the level in the second week of lockdown one,” said Springboard director Diane Wehrle.

The FTSE 100 was down 21 points (0.3%) at 6,715.

3.30pm: Proactive North America headlines:

KWESST Micro Systems Inc (CVE:KWE) (OTCMKTS:KWEMF) to acquire non-lethal munitions technology from DEFSEC

Newrange Gold Corp (CVE:NRG) (OTCMKTS:NRGOF) (FRA:X6C) finalizes Columbia and Red Lake asset deals to focus solely on Ontario and Nevada

Trillium Gold Mines Inc (CVE:TGM) (OTCQX:TGLDF) (FRA:0702) acquires Red Lake, Ontario property and adds assets in Quebec

Silvercorp Metals Inc (CVE:SVM) sees its rating raised to 'buy' from 'hold' by Canaccord Genuity on valuation grounds

XPhyto Therapeutics Corp (CSE:XPHY) (OTCQB:XPHYF) (FRA:4XT) looking forward to "transformational" 2021 as it stands on the cusp of commercialization

Mineworx Technologies Ltd (CVE:MWX) (OTCQB:MWXRF) (FRA:YRS) announces the appointment of Harvey Granatier as a director

Valeo Pharma Inc (CSE:VPH) (OTCQB:VPHI) (FRA:VP2) appoints new president and COO; Saviuk continues as CEO and becomes vice-chairman

Lexaria Bioscience Corp (NASDAQ:LEXX) (NASDAQ:LEXXW) (CSE:LXX) bolsters board of directors with Al Reese Jr

GlobeX Data Ltd (OTCQB:SWISF) (CSE:SWIS),  announces closing of private placement offering for total gross proceeds of C$1,080,000

AEX Gold Inc (LON:AEXG) (CVE:AEX) says development of Nalunaq gold project advancing as planned, as it updates on procurement activity

3.10pm: Small caps Xtract and One Heritage grab the limelight

The big-caps continue to do little but spin their wheels, leaving the field open to the small caps to grab some headlines.

The FTSE 100 was down 20 points (0.3%) at 6,715.

Xtract Resources PLC (LON:XTR) has taken over from One Heritage Group PLC (LON:OHG) as London’s top riser as investors continue to pile into the exploration company following its latest drilling update from the Bushranger copper-gold exploration project.

Xtract shares have now slightly more than doubled to 8.15p; the ended 2020 at 1.775p.

Earlier we were mystified by the share price surge for residential developer One Heritage, which is up 71% at 26.5p; it seems the board of One Heritage is no wiser as it issued a statement saying it knew of no “specific reason for this significant increase”.

"We reiterate what we have said before that we continue to experience strong demand for our properties, especially from overseas buyers. We have seen no sign of demand slowing in 2021 and expect to have a strong year for property sales and reservations,” said Jason Upton, who is either the chief executive officer of One Heritage or the name of a privately-educated “man of action” portrayed in a cheesy TV series in the seventies by Roger Moore.

2.40pm: Running on fumes

The US only gets about two holidays a year and today is one of them, as might be deduced from the directionless nature of European markets.

The FTSE 100, for instance, was down 15 points (0.2%) after a brief foray into positive territory.

“With so much good news priced in over the last couple of months, stock markets have been running on fumes. There doesn't appear to be much of an urge to sell at this point but perhaps a little more caution is creeping in,” suggested Craig Erlam at OANDA.

NatWest Group PLC (LON:NWG) was defying the trend after a leg-up from French peer Societe Generale.

SocGen, as its friends call it, has upgraded the stock to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’, although the target price remains unchanged at 190p, NatWest shares currently trade at 159.85p, up 0.8%.

(As a quick reminder, US markets are closed today to honour Martin Luther King).

1.30pm: Back in the red 

The FTSE 100 is back in negative territory again although as has been the way today, not by much.

Mining stocks were acting as a drag on the index, which was down 10 points (0.2%) at 6,726.

Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN), down 1.7% at 275.15p, led the mining sector lower; BHP PLC (LON:BHP), down 1.3% at 2,108p, was the next hardest hit. Miners were out of favour as the US dollar scales new highs, thus making commodities - well, the vast majority that are quoted in dollars - dearer.

“European markets have stumbled into a new week, with Biden’s stimulus promises doing little to help sentiment given doubts over just how much of that package will be approved in Congress. With the US markets closed for Martin Luther King day, today provides a gentle entry into a week that will be dominated by the US. While US trading activity will be minimised today, speculation over whether Biden will be able to garner enough support to pass his full stimulus package remain a key concern for markets,” summarised Joshua Mahony at IG.

Among the small caps, One Heritage Group PLC (LON:OHG), which listed the day before Christmas Eve last year, was the top riser at 27.5p, up 77%.

The residential developer’s shares floated at 10p so anyone who bought them just before Christmas has had a nice if belated Christmas pressie.

The reason for One Heritage’s skyrocketing share pricer is currently unknown (except perhaps by those buying the shares and driving the share price up) so let’s move on to Xtract Resources PLC (LON:XTR), which is up almost as much – 63% at 6.5p – for reasons we can discern.

The company issued further news on the phase one diamond drilling programme at the Racecourse Mineral Resource on the Bushranger copper-gold exploration project located in the Lachlan Fold Belt, New South Wales, Australia.

Drilling has now reached 975 metres at drill hole BRDD-20-001 and is still encountering strong visible copper mineralisation.

12:52pm: Further to go for financials?

The FTSE 350 financial services sector is up 17% since its pre-trade deal wobble in late October and is ahead around a third since it hit its nadir in late March.

Its importance to the UK can’t be overstated representing, as it does, over 25% of the entire market capitalisation of the FTSE All-Share.

“A wide range of factors suggests that the outlook for financials over the coming year is genuinely positive,” says Alex Crooke, Janus Henderson’s co-head of equities EMEA & Asia Pacific.

“And it is worth noting that, this time around, rather than being the core of the problem, the banks are increasingly viewed as part of the solution.”

Does he have a point? Read Alex’s comprehensive analysis by clicking here.

11.45am: FTSE 100 creeps into positive territory

The FTSE 100 remains becalmed and things are no more exciting in the FTSE 250, despite mid-caps generating more newsflow than their bigger brethren.

The FTSE 100 has at least crept into positive territory; it is up 5 points (0.1%) at 6,741, helped by enthusiasm for food delivery specialists Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) and Just Eat Takeaway.com NV (LON:JET) as it dawns on the market that lockdowns are likely to be with us for a while yet.

Ocado was up 1.9% at 2,560p and Just Eat was 1.3% better at 7,974.

The FTSE 250 was up 35 points (0.2%) at 20,651, helped by a positive reaction to the trading update from Spirent Communications PLC (LON:SPT).

Spirent shares were up 1.7% at 267p after the company said it enjoyed good sales momentum in the fourth quarter.

Calisen PLC (LON:CLSN), the smart meter installation specialist, has agreed to be bought by a consortium of private equity funds for £1.4bn less than a year after it floated.

The offer has been made by a consortium consisting of the Global Energy & Power Infrastructure Fund III, which is run by BlackRock, together with UAE-based co-investor Ninteenth Investment Company, and a number of funds run by Goldman Sachs (the investment bank that was, incidentally, one of the book-runners on Calisen’s February flotation).

The shares were up 0.7% at 260.5p after the board recommended the offer worth 261p a share.

11.00am: BT on the hook

Tumble-weed continues to blow across the City’s trading floors … and not just because most traders are probably working from home due to the coronavirus.

The FTSE 100 was down 5 points (0.1%) at 6,731, with BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A), down 2.1% at 137.9p, leading the retreat.

A consumer action group, called Collective Action on Land Lines, has reportedly filed a claim with the Competition Appeal Tribunal seeking £598mln from BT, which it claims has been overcharging landline-only clients.

Housebuilders are defying the slightly weaker trend after the release of the Rightmove House Price Index, which showed house prices eased a little in January.

The property listings web site operator said the average price of new properties coming to market declined 0.9% to £317,058 in January from £319,945 in December.

The year-on-year house price increase halved to 3.3% from December’s 6.6%.

Rightmove suggested that with the stamp duty threshold expected to go back down to £125,000 from £500,000 at the beginning of April, some sellers are cutting prices in the hope of getting the deal done by that deadline.

Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) was the pick of the housebuilding sector, with a rise of 1.1% at 2,720p.

 

9.30am: Quiet start 

A bit like a 1970s car, London is having trouble getting started on a cold Monday morning.

The FTSE 100 was down 11 points (0.2%) at 6,725 with some of the ennui possibly down to US markets being closed today to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

Despite oil prices being stable, BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) are off 2.2% and 1.6% respectively, accounting for most, if not all of the Footsie’s fall.

“We start the week with a bearish tone,” said Rony Nehme, the chief market analyst at Squared Financial.

“Risk and equities were supported in the first two weeks of the year as investors allocated 2021 assets, but the continued pressures of Covid and the inconsistent global roll-out of vaccines is now leading to investor caution,” Nehme added.

Big-cap news flow this morning has been minimal. AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) was up 0.6% at 7,637p after its Enhertu drug was approved in the US for the treatment of gastric cancer.

8.30am: Delicate balancing act

The FTSE 100 opened flat on Monday as the performance of the Chinese economy counter-balanced worries over America’s stimulus programme.

The index of UK blue-chips opened 4 points lower at 6,731.71.

The former first: The world’s second-largest economy grew at a better than expected 6.5% over October, November and December. That meant for 2020 overall it was up 2.2% - no mean feat with the coronavirus pandemic still raging.

Commentators took it as a positive sign that China had effectively staged a V-shaped recovery from its coronavirus woes and looks set to be followed by the other major economies in the region.

A replication of this trend in the West would make for a happier 2021.

Meanwhile, the watching world will hope that Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will pass without a repeat of the disgraceful and tragic events seen at the Capitol earlier this month.

The markets, though, are focused on Biden’s economic stimulus plan, which currently isn’t a slam dunk with the proposals already starting to run into opposition.

“Some of the early new year momentum has stalled, with stimulus and economic concerns weighing on investor sentiment,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“In the US, there were initial doubts on the president-elect’s stimulus package passing through the necessary channels due to Republican opposition.

“At the same time, the oil price gave up some of its recent gains as fears of weakening demand following the latest round of lockdowns was exacerbated by the possibility of even more stringent measures given the spread of the new variant.

“This in turn took the wind out of the sails of a recent revival in banking shares, which had been the subject of buying interest given some inflation expectations and also a more friendly economy.”

On the market, British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) lost 2.2% of altitude in the opening exchanges following the closure of air corridors between Britain and the rest of the world.

A nudge higher in the gold price helped precious metals giants Fresnillio (LON:FRES), up 1.8%, and Polymetal (LON:POLY), which opened up 1.5% higher.

Among the smaller-caps, Faron Pharma (LON:FARN) stood out with a 16% gain after America’s Department of Defense placed its financial backing behind the drug developer’s clinical trial of a coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment.

Proactive news headlines:

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) has updated investors on the current work programmes on its West African projects during the first quarter of 2021. In Senegal, IAMGOLD has completed its 10,000-metre air core drilling programme at the Senala project as scheduled. As per previous guidance, it is anticipated that these results will be available during the first quarter of this year. The drilling is intended to define the geochemical footprint of the gold mineralisation at the Faré prospect, where historical drilling has returned best results of 20 metres grading 31.13 grammes per tonne gold. In Cameroon, Oriole anticipates first results from its maiden diamond drilling programme at the Bibemi project later this quarter and into the second quarter. The total planned programme now stands at 28 holes for 3,080 metres.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) (First North:FARON) has noted that the US Department of Defense (DoD) is the surprising source of funding for a trial being carried out by researchers from the company, which is developing a drug to treat people hospitalised with coronavirus (COVID-19). The DoD has selected the phase II/III HIBISCUS study in the States to receive US$6.1mln under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act. Faron will be working directly with the 59th Medical Wing of the US Air Force.

One Media IP Group PLC (LON:OMIP), the digital music rights acquirer, has acquired the producer royalties of a selection of tracks by Take That. The rights have been acquired from Ian Levine, a British songwriter, producer and DJ. Take That, possibly the most successful British “boy band” of all time, had 28 top 40 singles in the UK, 12 of which reached number one. In a separate announcement, the group announced that its non-executive chairman, Claire Blunt, has been appointed as chief advertising officer and chief executive officer international at the Guardian Media Group, which she will fulfil alongside her current role at One Media.

IQGeo Group Plc (LON:IQG) has said it expects to report “significantly reduced” full-year losses following what it said was “good growth” in its key metrics and a considerable improvement in its margins. In a trading update for the year ended December 31, 2020, the geospatial software group said revenues are expected to be no less than £9mln, up from £7.8mln in the prior year, while its adjusted (EBITDA) loss is forecast to narrow to £2.5mln from £4.8mln. IQGeo highlighted predicted growth of 30% for its own product revenues, adding that product orders have expanded 42% and that its strategy of converting the business to a recurring revenue model is continuing to show “positive momentum” with 35% of revenues now recurring compared to 21% in 2019.

Mosman Oil and Gas Limited (LON:MSMN) has completed the sale of a stake in the Welch Project, in Texas, for US$420,000. The company, in a brief statement, noted that the sale was completed with full settlement of the deal consideration in cash. In early January, Mosman announced it had agreed to a new transaction with Steadfast Energy Partners LLC and Silver Dollar Energy Investments to exit Welch.

IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) has reported multiple high-grade drill intersections and the confirmation of new gold targets at the Zaranou project in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa. The license borders Ghana and is along strike from significant operating gold mines including Chirano, Bibiani and Ahafo. Particularly strong results were returned from the Ehuasso target and new Coffee Bean, Mbasso and Yakassé targets.

Salt Lake Potash Ltd's (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) (FRA:W1D) Lake Way Project near Wiluna in Western Australia is nearing completion, with the process plant 88% complete and the overall project, including all on-lake infrastructure 81% complete. Process plant commissioning is expected to begin in February, with the introduction of first feed salts to the plant in March. The project’s capital budget remains unchanged at A$264 million.

AEX Gold Inc. (LON:AEXG) (CVE:AEX), an independent gold company with a portfolio of gold licences in Greenland, has announced an operational update on the development of the Nalunaq property in South Greenland. The corporation said it remains on target and continues to make significant progress on the development of the Nalunaq Project, with the award of key procurement packages.

SourceBio International PLC (LON:SBI) has told investors 2020 results will be in line with expectations and said the current year had started strongly with the award of a surge capacity contract for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing worth up to £7.6mln. The group said its revenues for the 12 months ended December 31, 2020, were £50.7mln, up from £21.2mln in 2019, while underlying earnings (EBITDA) were up almost five-fold at £14mln (previously £3mln). It's cash position, meanwhile, was a better-than-expected £8.4mln, while almost £96mln of debt has been wiped out – it was helped in this regard with the proceeds from October’s stock market listing.

Remote Monitored Systems plc (LON:RMS) has issued an update on the production of an antiviral face mask by its subsidiary Pharm2Farm as well as announcing the appointment of a new executive director. The AIM-listed firm said a mask manufacturing machine arrived as expected and has been installed in a cleanroom in Nottingham’s BioCity, with work to begin this week to commission the device and commence production. Remote Monitored said the last element before full-scale production of its 4-ply mask is its certification to EN14683 standard, for which the product has now passed four of five tests. Meanwhile, the company said it has appointed Alex Vergopoulos as an executive director with an initial responsibility to oversee the production and sales of the viricidal surgical masks.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has agreed to buy a further 15% stake in the Biscathorpe project in the Humber basin, to increase its holding in the PEDL253 licence to 45%. The transaction is with associate Humber Oil & Gas and the transaction sees Union Jack Oil pay £500,000 in cash, plus £500,000 of contingent consideration payable when planning permission is received for a programme that aims to establish long-term production. "We are pleased to have taken this opportunity to increase our interest to 45% in Biscathorpe, that Union Jack's technical team believe represents a material and commercially viable hydrocarbon resource that remains untested,” said David Bramhill, Union Jack executive chairman in a statement.

Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS), the technical and creative services provider to the video games industry, has appointed Sonia Lashand Sedler as the group's chief operating officer. The groups said she will work closely with fellow board directors, Andrew Day, the chief executive officer, and Jon Hauck, the chief financial officer, taking responsibility for the day to day operational running of the business. Keywords noted that Lashand Sedler has 20 years of experience in scaling up businesses internationally through senior roles, most recently as global head of Managed Services and Banking Strategy at Diebold Nixdorf, a global retail and banking technology and services organisation, where she was responsible for its managed services business.

Westmount Energy Limited (LON:WTE) has agreed to increase its exposure to high impact exploration drilling presently underway offshore Guyana. It is increasing its stake in privately owned JHI Associates which owns a 17.5% interest in the ExxonMobil operated Canje block, where the Bulletwood-1 well is being drilled. Westmount is buying some 287,000 JHI shares for C$718,750. It increases Westmount’s stake in JHI to 7.7%, from 7.2% previously.

Caledonia Mining Corporation PLC (LON:CMCL) has said its Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe knocked out a record amount of gold in 2020. Production in 2020 of 57,899 ounces was at the top end of the company’s guidance range. Around 15,012 ounces of gold were produced in the final quarter of the year. Caledonia said gold production for 2021 is expected to fall between 61,000 and 67,000 ounces.

Europa Metals Ltd (LON:EUZ) has commenced drilling at the Toral lead, zinc and silver project in the region of Castilla y León, north-west Spain. This latest drilling campaign forms part of Europa’s pre-feasibility study. The first phase of the drill programme will target areas above the 600-metre level, concentrating on increasing Europa Metals' understanding of the initial four years of potential future production at Toral and building on the results of the preliminary economic study announced in November 2020.

Cornish Lithium said that, as part of the Li4UK project funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge, the group has produced its first lithium carbonate from the Trelavour project in Cornwall, as part of a study into the wider development of a sustainable lithium industry.  The project consortium comprises Cornish Lithium, Wardell Armstrong International Limited, and The Natural History Museum. Lithium carbonate was also produced from one other site in Scotland.

Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) told investors that gross operated production at its 25%-owned Tawke field in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq averaged 110,300 barrels of oil per day (bodp). The production volumes were split evenly between the Tawke and Peshkabir fields, it added. The group highlighted that this is the sixth consecutive year that Tawke has exceeded 100,000 bopd.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it has raised £22.4mln through a private placement with certain institutional investors, part of which will be used to expand its cryptocurrency mining capacity. The company said that under the placing it will issue 28mln shares at a purchase price of 80p each, a 25% discount to its closing price last Friday, to certain institutional investors that have already subscribed. Argo said the proceeds will be used for “working capital and general corporate purposes”, including the expansion of its mining capacity in the first and second quarters of 2021 through a hardware purchase from two leading manufacturers.

Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) has issued a response to the content of a press release issued last Friday from OTT Holdings Limited which it said makes various allegations against the company and its board of directors. The AIM-listed firm said it does not accept the allegations and assertions made in the press release, which the company “wholly denied”. Iconic also highlighted several points, saying it has not received a valid requisition notice to convene a general meeting, nor has it called a general meeting of shareholders and no meeting is scheduled to take place.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), the biotech-focused venture capital group, has said that managing director Jonathan Tobin is leaving the group on March 1, 2021, to pursue another opportunity. Naseem Amin, Arix’s executive chairman, thanked Tobin for his contribution to the company’s development and said he departs with its very best wishes. “Our portfolio companies, particularly where he was the investment director, benefited greatly from his counsel and contribution to their progress,“ Amin said in a statement. He added that following the success of several portfolio companies in 2020, Arix would be expanding its investment team in both the US and London.

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF) (OTCQB:NQMIY), the base and precious metals producer from its 100% owned flagship Hellyer and the 100% owner of the Beaconsfield Gold Mine, both in northern Tasmania, Australia,   has said it will issue 94,752,062  ordinary shares of 0.1p each. A total of 14,752,062 shares will be issued to two precious metals streaming companies to settle streaming payments due for the Hellyer production for November and December 2020.  An additional 80,000,000 shares will be issued to a new trust that has been established to service potential future precious metal streaming obligations from Hellyer's ongoing production that may arise from time-to-time, provide a mechanism to potentially buy out existing royalty and streaming holders by allocating shares, and provide the board of NQ with a pool of shares that may be allocated to individuals in the future to attract the right technical and commercial talent to drive the company forward.

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM), the specialist drug discovery and development company, has announced that Ewa Flynn, the company's financial controller, was appointed as company secretary on January 15, 2021.

BB Healthcare Trust PLC (LON:BBH) has announced the appointment of Alvarium Securities Limited as its joint corporate broker alongside J.P. Morgan Securities PLC (which conducts its UK investment banking activities as J.P. Morgan Cazenove), with immediate effect.

Primary Health Properties PLC (LON:PHP), one of the UK's leading investors in modern primary healthcare facilities, has said it will announce its preliminary results for the year ended December 31, 2020, on Thursday, February 18, 2021. A remote presentation for analysts will be held on the day at 9.30am and will be accessible via live audio webcast and a live conference call facility. Following the presentation, there will be a managed Q&A session. To access the briefing, please log on or dial in shortly before 9.30am via the details below: UK Toll-free: 0800 358 9473; International dial-in numbers: https://event.sharefile.com/d-s7bae1d9235d495a8; Participant PIN code: 59260771#; Webcast: https://webcasting.brrmedia.co.uk/broadcast/5ffed6e536bc5f2c49e14d10. A recording of the webcast will be made available from around 12.00pm on February 18, 2021, on the PHP website: https://www.phpgroup.co.uk/

genedrive PLC (LON:GDR), the near-patient molecular diagnostics company, has announced that it will release its interim results for the six months ended December 31, 2020, on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

6.50am: Subdued start on Monday

The FTSE 100 looks set to make a flat start to proceedings on Monday with China’s most recent economic performance offsetting worries over clearance for a potential US stimulus package.

Asia’s main markets pared their earlier losses after the People’s Republic said its economy had expanded by a better-than-expected 6.5% in the fourth quarter.

Over 2020, China grew by 2.3% in 2020 – a remarkable and resilient performance in the teeth of the pandemic. It perhaps speaks to the potential for a similarly swift global recovery globally once infection rates are under control.

China's industrial production stood out with an impressive 7.3% rise, while retail sales were up by a slightly worse than forecast 4.6%.

“All in all, China's data continues to show that it is and will continue to lead the world out of the pandemic-related recession in 2020,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Traders will have a weather eye on Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday hoping there won’t be a repeat of the shameful trouble that flared at the Capitol building a few weeks ago.

The new president’s first task will be to push through a fresh stimulus programme, which isn’t a gimme, according to US political commentators.

Here at home, doctors are preparing to start vaccinating the over-70s with the Daily Mail saying there was ‘hope in the post’ for pensioners.

On the market, expect another big week for blue-chip news with updates from fashion chain Burberry (LON:BRBY), the gambling group Entain (LON:ENT) and credit checking firm Experian (LON:EXPN).

The miners also figure heavily this week with performance reports and results from Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO), BHP PLC (LON:BHP), Antofagasta PLC (LON:ABTO) and mid-cap gold miner Centamin PLC (LON:CEY).

On the market:

  • Pound US$1.3569 (-0.15%)
  • Bitcoin US$35,327.39 (+0.11%)
  • Gold US$1,836.30 (+0.35%)
  • Brent crude US$54.77 (-0.53%)

6.45am: Early Markets - Asia / Australia

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Monday as investors reacted to official data confirming a 2.3% growth in Chinese GDP for 2020.

Chinese stocks were higher with the Shanghai composite up 0.66% while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.83%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.97% and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 2.33%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.78%.

READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE

Proactive Australia news:

Salt Lake Potash Ltd's (ASX:SO4) (LON:SO4) (OTCMKTS:WHELF) (FRA:W1D) Lake Way Project near Wiluna in Western Australia is nearing completion, with the process plant 88% complete and the overall project, including all on-lake infrastructure 81% complete.

Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX:NTU) has received encouraging results across several targets from the first phase of its latest exploration drilling program at Browns Range Project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, indicating the potential for mineral resource growth.

Horizon Minerals Ltd (ASX:HRZ) is debt-free upon the early repayment of a Sparta AG $4 million loan facility with the company paying approximately $4.6 million including interest.

Oklo Resources Ltd’s (ASX:OKU) (FRA:JYA) new assay results from resource drilling at Seko within the flagship Dandoko Project in west Mali have expanded SKI South prospect at depth and along strike.

MMJ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX:MMJ) OTCMKTS:MMJFF) (FRA:2P9) will broaden its existing investment mandate to include strategic investments in sectors outside cannabis as approved at the company's annual general meeting held in November 2020.

Great Boulder Resources Ltd (ASX:GBR) has confirmed the discovery of new gold mineralisation during maiden reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Blue Poles Prospect within the Whiteheads Gold Project north of Kalgoorlie.

Legend Mining Ltd’s (ASX:LEG) assay results and geological logging from reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Mawson prospect within the Rockford Project on Western Australia's Fraser Range has confirmed an extension of the mineralised intrusive system.

Alta Zinc Ltd’s (ASX:AZI) (FRA:8EE) drill holes PBD36 and PBD37 have returned multiple intersections of zinc, lead and silver mineralisation from either side of a new drill area, Pian Bracca South, at the flagship Gorno Zinc Project in northern Italy.

Musgrave Minerals Ltd (ASX:MGV) (OTCMKTS:MGVMF) (FRA:6MU) has raised over $3.5 million via its recently closed share purchase plan (SPP).

Ora Banda Mining Limited (ASX:OBM) has begun wet commissioning of the processing plant at Davyhurst Gold Project and is on track to pour the first gold bar by the end of this month.

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Red Rock Resources advancing towards a Canadian IPO with its Power Metal...

Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR) Chairman Andrew Bell tells Proactive the group has begun the Canadian listing process for its joint venture with Power Metal Resources (LON:POW), Red Rock Australasia Pty Ltd.   Bell says the group is looking to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange...

8 hours, 52 minutes ago

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