FTSE 100 set to make muted start as PM prepares to roll back lockdown restrictions

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  • FTSE 100 index adds 37 points
  • AstraZeneca reports positive vaccine results
  • Travel and leisure stocks lead advance

8.55am: Footsie gets another shot in the arm


The FTSE 100 made a better than expected start to proceedings on Monday as coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine success hopes that propped up Asia earlier went viral.


The UK index of blue-chips advanced 37 points in the opening exchanges to 6,388.40.


The mood was further bolstered by the first readout from a phase III study of a jab developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca (LON:AZN), which showed it was 70% effective. The number rose to 90% if a lower dose is used.


Remember, the Pfizer and Moderna inoculations had a plus 90% efficacy rate. However, both are relatively expensive and have storage issues.


The UK has already pre-ordered 100mln doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca treatment, which is expected to cost just GBP2 a time, and it can be kept in a normal fridge.


On the market, AstraZeneca shares, up 30% from its pre-lockdown low, fell 2.2%.


By contrast, FTSE 100 COVID-19 bounce-back stocks IAG (LON:IAG) and Rolls Royce (LON:RR.) were up 4.2% and 3.3% respectively.


On the FTSE 250, Cineworld (LON:CINE) was up 16.9%, helped as well by a new debt lifeline, while Mitchells & Butlers (LON:MAB) was up 9.6% ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions, which should see restaurants and pubs return to near normal.


TUI’s (LON:TUI) 9.5% rise reflected the hope that foreign holidays may be back on the agenda this summer if the global roll out new COVID-19 jabs goes to plan.


Proactive news headlines:


Scirocco Energy PLC (LON:SCIR) has said it is now better able to advance a sales process for its 25% stake in the Ruvuma project in Tanzania. It comes after partner Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) has completed its farm-out transaction which has brought in APT into the project. APT is running and funding a programme of work to take Ruvuma’s Ntorya gas field into production whilst potentially expanding the asset through exploration.


Galileo Resources PLC (LON:GLR) saw its shares rise on Monday as the firm issued a “very promising” exploration update on its’ 100% held property in the emerging Kalahari Copper Belt in western Botswana. The company said a preliminary overview of the results from a Heliborne-EM geophysical surveying over several licences in its highly prospective Kalahari Copper Belt Project look very promising with the EM data interpreted to show several highly prospective geological settings for copper-silver mineralisation.


EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT), the gasification technology company, has said the exclusivity period of the Billingham memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been extended until December 18, 2020. The MoU was announced in May and committed EQTEC and Scott Bros Enterprises to jointly develop the Billingham Energy waste gasification and power plant in Haverton Hill, Billingham, in the UK. The Billingham MOU has been the subject of previous extensions on three previous occasions.


Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) generated revenues of US$11.4mln from the Kiziltepe gold mine in Turkey during the third quarter of 2020. The average realised gold price was US$1,915 per ounce, up significantly on the quarter, as well as on the corresponding period a year ago.


Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) has welcomed news from its partner, NexTech, concerning a prototype battery that uses Directa’s G+ pristine graphene nanoplatelets. Full-scale pouch format cell prototypes produced by lithium-sulphur battery developer and producer, NexTech Batteries, have achieved more than 400 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram, the usual measure of energy density) in a practical system. NexTech produced several prototypes using its proprietary cathode and electrolyte materials producing 410Wh/kg of specific energy at a weight only slightly below 30 grams. For comparison, standard lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of 100-265 Wh/kg.


ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) (Euronext Growth Brussels:ALIMM), the specialist drug discovery and development company, announced that L1 Capital Global Opportunities Master Fund has converted $200,000 (plus accrued but unpaid interest) of the convertible security issued pursuant to the convertible security deed dated June 10, 2020. The conversion price is 11p per share resulting in the issue by the company to L1 Capital of 1,430,510 new ordinary shares of 10p each.


Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) said it was seeing “exciting clinical activity across multiple cancer types” from its phase I/II treatment bexmarilimab, formerly Clevegen. It also said plans were underway for three new trials using the Faron discovery. In the first instance, it will be used in patients with colorectal cancer and clear cell renal cell carcinoma as what’s called a neoadjuvant, which is used to shrink tumours before mainline treatment. Researchers are also assessing bexmarilimab’s use alongside a checkpoint inhibitor drug in lung cancer and they are looking at its potential use in the blood-borne forms of the disease such as acute myeloid leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.


Next Solar Energy Fund Limited (LON:NESF) said an exceptional period of sunshine boosted generation from its portfolio of solar assets and lifted its earnings in the half-year to end-September. The renewable power generator’s electricity production was 11.1% above budget helped by above-average irradiation and by having most of its received power prices fixed. Spot electricity prices were volatile over the period due to oil prices and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but rallied at the end of the period and NextSolar said it has left a significant amount of capacity unhedged for the winter in expectation of a further improvement.


AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) has secured a long term lease over new premises at its Surrey headquarters at Dunsfold Park. The 30,000 square feet facility will serve as the hydrogen power generation technology company’s first large scale H-Power assembly and commissioning facility. An initial investment of GBP300,000 will be made into the facility with the aim of accommodating the eventual dispatch of up to 100 hydrogen generator systems per annum with capacity for further growth.


4D pharma PLC (LON:DDDD) said the deadline for its merger with special purpose acquisition company Longevity Acquisition Corporation (NASDAQ:LOAC) has been extended to May 29 next year. This will allow the companies adequate time to lodge all the paperwork required with NASDAQ. This includes the filing of a registration statement on Form F-4 in order to allow 4D to apply to admit its American Depositary Shares for trading on NASDAQ and the convening of a meeting of both Longevity and 4D shareholders.


Greencoat UK Wind PLC (LON:UKW) has agreed to acquire a 49% stake in the Humber Gateway offshore wind farm as part of a consortium with several pension funds The specialist wind power specialist will be the largest part of the consortium and acquire a net 38% stake for GBP500mln while the pension funds will acquire a net 11% for GBP148m. The total cash consideration payable to vendor RWE will be GBP648mln. The German utility will continue to hold the remaining 51%.


Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) has announced that the company’s bank lending group, led by KeyBank National Association has completed the semi-annual redetermination of its senior secured credit facility and reaffirmed the existing $425mln borrowing base with no changes to pricing, covenants or other material terms. The FTSE 250-listed US-based owner and operator of natural gas, natural gas liquids, oil wells and midstream assets noted that following the redetermination, its liquidity exceeds $220mln, comprised of cash on hand and availability under the credit facility.


Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has said it is finalising the sale of its first commercial concentrate from the Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania. The sale is expected to conclude on November 25, 2020. Vast received confirmation over the weekend, from Mercuria, the company’s offtake partner, following a delay from the previously anticipated schedule.


Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) made a GBP255,000 loss in the six months to September 30, 2020, down from the GBP339,000 loss it booked for the corresponding period a year earlier. Cash as of September 30, 2020, was GBP870,000. Cash as of October 31, 2020, was GBP1,316,000, following a further fundraise. During the period Kodal continued with its licence application for the Bougouni lithium project in Mali.


San Leon Energy PLC (LON:SLE) told investors it has agreed to a further three-week extension in order to complete the deal to invest in the Oza field, in Nigeria. A new deadline of December 14 has now been agreed. As previously noted, the company pointed out, worldwide restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have presented certain logistical challenges. Nonetheless, it said that good progress has been made with the final drafts of all remaining conditions are currently being reviewed by the parties.


Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) has told investors that an exciting time finally lies ahead as its new partner, APT advances the Ruvuma asset in Tanzania. APT has now put in place a road-map for the project including a work programme of seismic and drilling, which will allow the project to move a final financing decision for the Ntorya discovery before the end of 2022. The new partner has notified the joint venture partners that it intends to immediately start contracting and procurement for a 3D seismic programme over the Ntorya gas discovery and the drilling of the Chikumbi-1 appraisal and exploration well.


Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has updated on the ongoing drilling operation at the West Newton B-1 appraisal well project in East Yorkshire. The well, tagged WNB-1, has so far been drilled down to a depth of 2,295 metres and Union Jack confirmed it has encountered both the primary (Kirkham Abbey) and secondary (Cadeby) objectives. The Kirkham Abbey formation indicated a hydrocarbon charge based on wireline logs, cuttings and mud gas readings, the company said, while for Cadeby there was insufficient reservoir development.


Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) has raised GBP2.5mln via an oversubscribed placing of shares at 1.1p per share. The group said the money raised will be used to extend and accelerate a range of exploration activities across the company’s portfolio, with immediate programs to be expanded in both Mexico and Western Australia. Based on current budgets and in the absence of exceptional circumstances the company’s existing work programs are now fully funded through to end-2021.


Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE), the leading consultant for energy procurement, utility cost optimisation and legislative compliance in the UK and Ireland, announced that it has received London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark in recognition of its environmental and strategic advice, service and support to customers. The Green Economy Mark allows greater visibility for investors interested in green economy activities and recognises those companies that are contributing to a greener and more sustainable economy. The Mark is given to London-listed companies which derive more than 50% of revenues from goods and services contributing to the green economy.


AdEPT PLC (LON:ADT), one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions, said on Friday that it was notified that its chief executive, Phil Race has purchased of 5,600 ordinary shares of 10p each in the company at a price of 223p per ordinary share. Following the purchase, the group added, Race is interested in 16,191 AdEPT ordinary shares, representing approximately 0.06% of the current issued share capital of the company.


Ncondezi Energy Limited (LON:NCCL) has said its annual general meeting (AGM) is scheduled to be held at 12.00pm SAST on December 16, 2020, at Club Room 1, Main Club House Inanda Club, Forrest Rd & 6th Avenue, Inanda, Sandton, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa. In view of the current South African Government’s guidance the group’s board recommends that shareholders should not attend the meeting in person and urges shareholders wishing to vote on any of the resolutions to do so by appointing the chairman of the meeting as a proxy to vote on their behalf. Voting on all resolutions at the Meeting will be by way of poll. Given that there will not be any formal Q&A session at the meeting, the company will host an online investor meeting, open to all existing and potential shareholders following the AGM on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at 2.00pm SAST (12.00pm GMT). On the call, Ncondezi Energy CEO Hanno Pengilly will provide an update on the business followed by a question and answer session. Participants are requested to register their interest in attending and submit questions in advance via email to [email protected] by no later than 6.00pm SAST (4.00pm GMT) on December 11, 2020.


6.50am: Slow beginning to new week


The FTSE 100 looks set to open in positive territory on Monday – but only just. The UK index of blue-chips looks set to advance 15 points at open to 6,366, according to the spread betting firms


While Asia’s main markets rose today on vaccine roll-out hopes, traders on this side of the globe appear likely to give a muted response to plans to bring the UK out of lockdown next week.


Later on Monday, Boris Johnson is widely expected to announce the re-opening of non-essential shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants with the curfew on drinking and dining pushed out to 11 pm.


The Prime Minister is also reported to be ready to roll out mass testing in higher infection ‘tier-3’ areas of the country following a trial in Liverpool.


“The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person,” said the Daily Mail.


“Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.”


Later this morning preliminary or ‘flash’ purchasing managers’ index surveys for the first weeks of November will provide a litmus test for the strengthj of the UK manufacturing and services sectors.


October saw a weakening in the numbers compared with August and September, and November will see a continuation of that downward trend, according to CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.


The services sector, he said, will bear the brunt as a result of the England-wide lockdown that came into effect on November 5.


It is expected to be another busy week for corporate news, led by the utilities with Pennon Group (LON:PNN), United Utilities (LON:UU.) and Severn Trent PLC (LON:SVT) all scheduled to report earnings.


Insurer Aviva (LON:AV.), caterer Compass (LON:CPG), retailer Pets at Home (LON:PETS), Britvic (LON:BVIC), the mixers group, and Daily Mirror owner Reach (LON:RCH) provide the other major highlights from a fairly packed reporting roster.


On the markets:


  • Pound worth US$1.3326 (+0.38%)
  • Bitcoin US$18,400.88 (-0.43%)
  • Gold US$1,877.40 an ounce (-0.04%)
  • Brent crude US$45.25 a barrel (+0.64%)

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia


Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Monday as investors continue to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) developments.


South Korea’s Kospi led gains by surging 1.87% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.42%.


Chinese stocks were higher with the Shanghai composite rising 1.13% but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.08%.


In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.34% led by the big miners as the price of iron ore surged by about 10% this month to a near 6-year high.


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Proactive Australia news:


Pantoro Limited (ASX:PNR) has received further high-grade results from a four-hole follow-up drilling program at Sailfish Prospect on Lake Cowan at the Norseman Gold Project in WA’s Eastern Goldfields.


Vango Mining Ltd‘s (ASX:VAN) initial four holes at the Contessa Prospect of the Ned’s Creek JV project with Lodestar Minerals Ltd (ASX:LSR) in Western Australia, show significant intersections and confirm open-pit resource potential.


Musgrave Minerals Ltd (ASX:MGV) has received further strong gold results which confirm the White Heat discovery and boost other regional targets at the flagship Cue Gold Project in Western Australia.


Anteris Technologies Ltd‘s (ASX:AVR) (OTCMKTS:AMEUF) (FRA:DDF) 3D single-piece aortic valve DurAVR(TM) has been selected as a ‘Best Innovation’ at the PCR London Valves 2020 virtual conference.


Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) ongoing drilling at its 100%-owned Carlow Castle Project in the west Pilbara region of Western Australia has revealed a high-grade gold and copper discovery well below the existing 2019 JORC resource envelope.


Australian Potash Ltd (ASX:APC) has signed a fifth offtake agreement which takes total offtake secured from the Lake Wells Sulphate of Potash Project (LSOP) in Western Australia to 100% of the 150,000 tonnes annual output outlined in the definitive feasibility study (DFS).


K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) has completed the integration of software developer SATEVA and has officially launched its high-performance storage and analytics solution – Model Manager – to miners globally as well to its existing mineral inventory customer base.


Imugene Limited’s (ASX:IMU) (OTCMKTS:IUGNF) ongoing randomised Phase 2 study of HER-Vaxx in Her-2/Neu overexpressing advanced metastatic gastric/GEJ cancer shows positive overall survival (OS) with a Hazard Ratio of 0.418.


BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX:BEM) is encouraged by results from its first program of field exploration on the Donnelly River Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Metals (PGM) south of Perth, Western Australia.


Element 25 Limited’s (ASX:E25) (FRA:QFP) project development activities continue to accelerate at its 100%-owned Butcherbird Manganese Project in Western Australia, with the appointment of a mining contractor and resident manager.

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