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  • FTSE 100 closes 41 points down
  • UK spending review announced
  • Wall Street shares mostly lower but Nasdaq ahead

5.05pm: FTSE closes lower


FTSE 100 index closed in the red mid-week with financial stocks taking a notable hit as traders booked gains made from yesterday’s stock surge and digested the UK chancellor’s spending review.


Britain’s blue-chip benchmark finished the day down around 41 points at 6,391. Midcap FTSE 250 also went lower, shedding over 220 points at 19,569.


On Wall Street, volumes were lower ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow and the Dow Jones and S&P 500 fell after yesterday the Dow breached 30,000. The Nasdaq, however , gained over 17 points at 12,054.


“The FTSE 100 is underperforming its eurozone equivalents as oil, mining, pharma and banking stocks are contributing to the pressure on the UK benchmark. It is worth noting that commodity stocks enjoyed a very bullish move yesterday so now we are seeing a small pullback,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.


Madden noted chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement, which underlined the cost of the pandemic to the UK economy, with GBP394 billion predicted to be the budget deficit for 2020.


Gross domestic product (GDP) was tipped this year to be minus11.3%, expected to rebound by 5.5% next year, he noted.


Barclays (LON:BARC) was among the top Footsie laggards, dropping 4.53% to stand at 143.40p ,while insurer Aveva Group (LON:AVV) tanked nearly 20%.


3.35pm: Proactive North America headlines:


Aurania Resources Ltd (CVE:ARU) (OTCQB:AUIAF) (FRA:20Q) poised for airborne geophysical survey at Ecuador project


Empower Clinics Inc (CSE:CBDT) (OTCPINK:EPWCF) (FRA:8EC) sees another quarter of over 5,000 patient visits; reports strong year-to-date revenue


PyroGenesis Canada Inc (CVE:PYR) (OTCQB:PYRNF) (FRA:8PY) signs initial $1.8M plasma torch contract with major iron ore producer


ImagineAR Inc (CSE:IP) (OTCQB:IPNFF) (FRA:GMS1) signs revenue partnership agreement with Real Sociedad to provide its Augmented Reality SDK Platform for fan engagement


Mirasol Resources Ltd (CVE:MRZ) (OTCPINK:MRZLF) (FRA:M8R) aiming to kick off diamond drilling in first quarter next year at Inca gold project after encouraging surface work


Ximen Mining Corp (CVE:XIM) (OTCQB:XXMMF) (FRA:1XMA) completes new mine portal, rail access at historic Kenville gold mine in BC


Phunware Inc (NASDAQ:PHUN) engages Stout Capital to monetize the company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio, including both its patent and data assets


FansUnite Entertainment Inc (CSE:FANS) (OTCQB:FUNFF) becomes official member of the Canadian Gaming Association


NexTech AR Solutions (OTCQB:NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR) (FRA:N29) subsidiary Map Dynamics wins raves for hosting virtual 2020 Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market


PreveCeutical Medical Inc (CSE:PREV) (OTCQB:PRVCF) (FRA:18H) announces successful lab development of a cannabinoid Sol-Gel formulation to prevent or treat coronavirus


3.00pm: US stocks start mostly lower, but Nasdaq ahead


US stocks started the session mostly lower midweek, though the Nasdaq surged, after the benchmark Dow Jones crashed through 30,000 for the first time yesterday.


On Wall Street, the Dow Jones is down 163 points at 29,883. The S&P 500 lost around nine points at 3,626. The tech heavy Nasdaq though was trading in record territory, up over 25 points at 12,063.


The muted open came amid lower trading volumes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and as traders gear up for a slew of new data, including disappointing jobless claims.


The Labor Department reported that 778,000 people filed for unemployment benefit last week, while economists had expected a figure of 733,000. The figure was a five-week high.


Also expected this morning are figures on income, spending, consumer spending and inflation, which should throw more light on how US household are coping with the current pandemic situation.


Elsewhere, durable goods orders for October rose by more than forecast. Last month, eight of the nine primary categories of durable goods shipments increased, with the standout performer by far, being communications equipment, which surged by 9.9% m/m increase in October.


This lifted the sector 27.9% above its level in February, reflecting the current increased demand due to the shift to working from home amid the pandemic.


Elsewhere, later the Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes from earlier this month will be released at 2pm EST.


1.50pm: Rishi Sunak concludes spending review


The Footsie remained firmly underwater as Chancellor Rishi Sunak concluded the spending review.


London’s leading index tumbled 39 points to 6,392 while sterling was flat at US$1.3354.


READ: Spending review live: Sunak unveils public wage freezes, foreign aid cuts and infrastructure cash injections


The UK is set to carry on with its spending spree, after Sunak announced GBP55bn of COVID-related spending in the next fiscal year on top of the total GBP280bn already allocated in 2020.


However, analysts at Capital Economics noted that the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts suggest that the government may not remain in this support phase for long.


In its central forecast in which vaccines are widely available from mid-2021, the OBR expects the economy to be about 3% smaller in 2024/25 than if the pandemic never happened, while the government will still be running a budget deficit of GBP102bn by 2025/26, well above the deficit in 2019/20 of GBP54.5bn.


On these numbers, if the government wanted to get deficit back to pre-virus levels in the next five years, it might have to raise taxes by about GBP48bn a year.


“But this exaggerates the weakness in the economy in two ways. First, we think the OBR’s forecasts are underplaying the effect of vaccines on economic activity which would go along way to filling any fiscal hole,” said economist Ruth Gregory.


“Second, it is not necessarily the case that there will be a fiscal hole anyway if the economy eventually gets back to its pre-virus level as we think it will. This doesn’t mean that taxes won’t have to rise at all to pay for further spending increases.”


12.50pm: Wall Street to see mixed open ahead of busy session


The Footsie lingered in the red at lunchtime, dropping 37 points to 6,394.


US indices are expected to see a mixed open, with futures pointing at a slight dip for the Dow Jones and modest gains for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.


Traders are waking up a day after the Sow touched 30,000 for the first time in its history on Tuesday, during an impressive month which has priced in a series of positive news.


“Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow means two things; firstly we basically get a three-day data dump today as well as the FOMC minutes so it’s going to be a lively session,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at OANDA Europe.


“Secondly, the rest of the week is basically a write-off for the US which should make for a chilled end to the week for the rest of us. That said, it is 2020.”


“The second reading of US third quarter GDP is expected to be unchanged but, of all the releases, it’s arguably the least important given how out of date it already is. It would take some revision – and probably a positive one at that – to pique investors interests.”


The jobless claims are also on the agenda, though the numbers are expected to swell again despite reversing course last week. If so, another significant increase could depress the market rally which is already losing momentum.


Meanwhile, the US is considering to lift European travel restrictions for non-US citizens coming from the UK, Brazil, Ireland and 26 other European countries, Reuters reported.


11.45am: UK businesses claim GBP849mln under ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme


FTSE 100 continued its descent before lunch, tumbling 33 points to 6,398.


UK businesses have claimed GBP849mln under ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, new data from the Treasury has revealed, which is well over the GBP500mln initially estimated by the government.


To boost trading for the hospitality industry, the scheme covered up to half of the cost of 160mln meals in the month of August.


Nearly 50,000 restaurants, pubs and cafes applied to receive the funds by September 30; over half were restaurants, while nearly a third fell into the category of pubs and licensed clubs.


Around 27% of the total cash claimed came from businesses with more than 25 outlets.




10.40am: UK to allow three households to come together for Christmas


FTSE 100 doubled its losses in late morning and dropped 20 points to 6,412.


The leaders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed on rules to allow Christmas families to come together.


Between December 23 and 27, up to three households will be able to form an exclusive ‘bubble’, which must not be changed or extended, to meet at home.


Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.


“Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable,” the leaders said in a joint statement.


“We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible.”


9.50am: Footsie turns red


FTSE 100 turned red in mid-morning after software group Aveva (LON:AVV) 20% fall continued to weigh on the index, while traders await for Rishi Sunak’s announcement.


London’s leading index shed 10 points to 6,421 though sterling was also underwater, down 0.1% to US$1.3346.


United Utilities Group PLC (LON:UU.) and Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO) both rose 4% to 932.9p and 169.97p respectively after flagging defensive performance despite the pandemic.


The water company raised its interim dividend by 1% to 14.41p and forecast a full-year revenue of GBP1.75-1.8bn, down from GBP1.85bn recorded last year, reflecting a bill reduction and the impact of COVID-19 on both household and non-household consumption.


The impact on non-household revenue is expected to be broadly consistent with the first half, while household revenue will not benefit from the increased consumption of water due to the warm weather seen in the first half.


Meanwhile, manufacturer Melrose expects its aerospace division to break even after resorting to massive job cuts among other cost-saving measures.


The big cap is currently trading at the top end of the board’s expectations for 2020 and expects to cut net debt.


8.55am: Advance continues for Footsie


The FTSE 100 index made a solid if unspectacular start to proceedings on Wednesday after a record close on Wall Street, buoyed by vaccine hopes, had a positive impact on proceedings in London’s Square Mile.


The UK blue-chip index opened 29 points higher at 6,461.6.


That said, early volumes were subdued with traders on this side of the Atlantic keeping their powder dry ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s widely-leaked spending review later Wednesday.


His Commons statement will include details on public sector pay, NHS funding and money for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


It is expected he will also provide a full, HD picture of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic – including details on the huge rise in spending and borrowing associated with support plans such as the furlough scheme and Eat Out to Help Out.


“The chancellor is already on track to spend over GBP400bn this fiscal year alone in tackling the pandemic,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets. “Today he is expected to outline further measures to support the economy, spending GBP4.3bn on supporting the newly unemployed back to work.


“The primary focus is likely to be on infrastructure, particularly in the hardest hit areas with a focus on green initiatives like battery factories, wind farms. There has been talk of a pay freeze for public sector workers outside the care sector and emergency services, which has received some pushback, despite the widespread job losses in the private sector.”


Elsewhere, caution is being urged by over the Christmas ‘bubbles’ that will exist to allow families to enjoy the festivities with one government scientific adviser saying the relaxation of rules amounted to “throwing fuel on the Covid fire”.


On the market, the big faller was the software group Aveva (LON:AVV), which dropped 20% early on. The decline was purely technical following the admission of what’s called the nil paid rights to new, cheaper shares issued as part of the company’s cash call to fund the acquisition of OSIsoft Group.


Melrose (LON:MRO), the owner of aero-engineer GKN, belatedly joined the coronavirus bounce-back club with 4% jump following a trading update.


Proactive news headlines:


SourceBio International plc (LON:SBI) said it has renewed a key contract with Spire Healthcare PLC as it revealed its revenues and earnings have grown significantly as a result of the “considerable ramp-up” in coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. The lab services and products group also told investors that it was in a “very strong position” for Public Health England’s (PHE) Lot 4 round to provide clinical diagnostic services – and it has submitted an updated application “beyond the original target of 10,500 tests per day”.


OPG Ventures PLC (LON:OPG) said it has collected contractual claims payments from its customers under the power purchase agreements amounting to around GBP9.5mln (Rupees 0.9bn). The group said the contractual claims were accumulated over several periods and will be recognised as income in its full-year 2021 financial statements. It said the collection of these claims has strengthened the group’s financial position and liquidity during these uncertain times caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Ncondezi Energy Ltd (LON:NCCL) said it has raised GBP750,000 from an oversubscribed and premium-priced share placing. The group is issuing some 16.6mln new shares priced at 4.5p each, a premium price compared to the share’s 30-day weighted average price and the last equity raise in May 2020. The injection of funds is earmarked for general working capital purposes. Ncondezi said it will now have sufficient funds to cover corporate costs to complete the tariff negotiations with Electricidade de Mocambique and key agreements including the Power Purchase Agreement and Power Concession Agreement.


Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) said it has signed a five-year non-exclusive Strategic Research Agreement (SRA) with Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which will enable the ethical application of clinical AI research to improve patient care and accelerate research into new medicines. The UK Clinical AI company noted that the Hampshire Hospitals dataset covers 500,000 unique patient records, with 200,000 annual hospital admissions from a patient population of approximately 570,000 people. The Hampshire Hospitals dataset includes oncology data that will enable Sensyne to build on its existing research into rare cancers. The new SRA with the Trust brings the combined total of anonymised data available for analysis by Sensyne to 6.1 million patients.


Circle Property PLC (LON:CRC) has highlighted “strong average rent collection” in its half-year results despite disruption from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In the six months to September 30, 2020, the regional office owner said rental receipts have been running at an average of 92.5% of rents due for the March and June quarters, while operating profits before property revaluations rose to GBP2.7mln from GBP2.4mln last year alongside a 10% rise in rental income to GBP3.9mln.


IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) has shared what it describes as “very positive” metallurgical test results from the Ewoyaa Lithium Project in Ghana. Recovery improvements were achieved through re-crushing of an intermediate material called ‘middlings’ whilst maintaining concentrate grade. The overall plan was to improve lithium recoveries in coarse-grained type P1 and finer-grained type P2 pegmatites.


Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) said its Rizikon Assurance platform has been selected by the IASME Consortium, the UK government’s national cybersecurity centre’s cyber essentials partner, as the core platform to support a new Internet of things (IoT) device security certification programme. The AIM-listed firm said the certification programme is a new scheme designed to give confidence to consumers and businesses that IoT devices have attained a minimum accepted level of security, and protect users from potential cyber-attacks, data loss and privacy invasion.


Mosman Oil and Gas Ltd (LON:MSMN) has told investors it is confident that it can grow production and create value as it posted its full-year results. The bullish comments come as the company advances a sequence of operations in Texas, which recently saw success with the Falcon well. Mosman has been focussed on well work-over operations at the Stanley project plus new wells across multiple sites in the Champion and broader Stanley project areas.


Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS) shares rose on Wednesday as it agreed to acquire g-Net Media Inc, a Los Angeles-based provider of marketing services to the video game and entertainment industries, in a deal worth up to US$32mln. The AIM-listed firm said under the terms of the deal it will pay an initial consideration of US$14.4mln in cash and the equivalent of US$3.6mln in new shares to the sellers on the first anniversary of the purchase. Deferred consideration of up to US$14mln will also be payable to the sellers in a mix of cash and shares based on performance targets being met by the first and second anniversaries of the acquisition.


AEX Gold Inc. (LON:AEXG) (CVE:AEX) has provided an update to its 2020 exploration drilling campaign at the Nalunaq property in South Greenland, saying the results are complementary to those reported in its news release of October 21, 2020. The London and Toronto-listed independent gold company with a portfolio of gold licences in Greenland said the drilling highlights of further results from the Valley Block infill drilling programme include 52.4 grams per ton (g/t ) gold over 0.55 meters (m) (AEX2008) and 5.9 g/t over 0.5m (AEX2009), with visible gold observed in AEX2009.


Galantas Gold Corp (LON:GAL) has reported a narrowed loss in the first nine months of its current financial year as it commenced shipments of concentrate from its Omagh project in Northern Ireland. In results for the nine months to September 30, 2020, the company reported a loss of C$102,733, narrowed from a C$186,818 loss in the previous year, while it ended the period with cash of C$638,433.


Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) (CVE:FO) said it and partner Origin Energy will conduct further well operations in order to deliver a flow test for the Kyalla 117 N2-1H ST2 well. A fracking programme got underway in early October and since late October the well has undergone ‘flowback’ operations to recover the frack fluid. Some gas shows have been observed, but a measurable gas breakthrough has yet to occur, the group added.


Critical Metals Plc (LON:CRTM), a mining investment company established to target opportunities in the overlooked and under-analysed mining sector, has announced the appointment of Strand Hanson Limited as financial adviser to the company. Russell Fryer, CEO of Critical Metals, commented: “With extensive experience in the natural resources sector, Strand Hanson’s team will be invaluable to Critical Metals in achieving its immediate and long term acquisition objectives and we are delighted to announce this key appointment.”


Naked Wines Plc (LON:WINE) announces on Tuesday that Nicholas Devlin, its chief executive officer, has bought the 3,358 ordinary shares of 7.5p each in the company at a price of 508.44p per share on November 24, 2020. Following the purchase, the group noted, Devlin’s beneficial interest in the company and that of persons closely associated with him will be 72,730 ordinary shares representing approximately 0.10% of the issued share capital.


Parity PLC (LON:PTY), the technology focussed professional services business, announced that it has awarded Michael Johns, its chief financial officer, options over 2,000,000 ordinary shares of 2p each in the company. The options were granted on November 24, 2020, and represent approximately 1.9% of the company’s current issued share capital. They each have an exercise price of 7.88p, being the closing mid-market price per ordinary share on November 23, 2020. The options will vest after 3 years and are subject to performance conditions.


Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB), the leading cryptocurrency miner based in the UK said that further to its announcement on November 3, 2020, the High Court of England and Wales has confirmed the reduction of the company’s nominal share capital by way of cancellation of the share premium account. The company confirmed that, following the capital reduction, its issued share capital of comprises 293,750,000 ordinary shares of GBP0.001 each.


DeepVerge plc (LON:DVR), the scientific research and AI-as-a-Service company, has announced that Gerry Brandon, its chief executive officer, will be presenting at an investor webinar being hosted jointly by Turner Pope Investments (TPI) Ltd and Vox Markets. Brandon, commented: “Deepverge is expanding, with organic revenue growth alone, despite COVID, guided at GBP4m for 2020, including an increase in revenues by 300% in H2 2020, up from GBP1m in H1 2020. Following the recent acquisition of Modern Water PLC, we will now have sales offices and laboratories for Labskin and Rinocloud AI services in the US, Ireland, UK, China and Japan. This global expansion provides access to a growing list of household name clients, that includes Unilever, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Amway and L’Occitane, cross-selling products and services from each division and serving the environment, cosmetics and pharma sectors worldwide. The presentation will provide an update on sales, marketing, supply chain management of products and services under development in a post-COVID world with insight into what is expected to come in 2021 and 2022.” The event will be held on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at 2pm.


6.50am: Firmer start predicted


The FTSE 100 is expected to open higher on Wednesday morning following a record session for US markets on Tuesday.


Spread-better IG expects the FTSE 100 to start around 25 points higher after ending Tuesday’s session up 98 points at 6,432.


Expectations of a positive start followed a record-breaking session for Wall Street overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 1.54% to close at a record high of 30,046. The S&P 500 also set a new record, closing 1.62% higher at 3,635, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.31% to 12,036.


The optimism was bolstered by the official start of the presidential transition despite Donald Trump still refusing to officially concede. Meanwhile, traders will be eyeing US GDP and durable goods orders later today for more positive news.


Things were also looking upbeat in Asia this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 ganing 0.54% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4%.


On currency markets, the pound was slightly off against the dollar, down 0.11% at US$1.334, although sterling could see some movement catalysts as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers his spending review to the House of Commons later today.


The review will outline the government’s spending plans for the year ahead of the UK looks to recover from the effects of the pandemic, while the Chancellor is also expected to reveal the latest public finance and economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).


Around the markets:


  • Sterling: US$1.334, down 0.11%
  • Brent crude: US$48.19 a barrel, up 0.69%
  • Gold: US$1,804 an ounce, down 0.09%
  • Bitcoin: US$18,931, up 3.55%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia


Asia-Pacific markets were mixed on Wednesday following a record session on Wall Street as coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine hopes and reduced uncertainty in US politics boosted investor sentiment.


In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.50% while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong advanced 0.16%.


However, South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.62% and China’s Shanghai composite was down 1.02%.


Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lifted for a third day, with the index up more than 12% this month.


READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE


Proactive Australia news:


Emyria Limited (ASX:EMD) has launched its initial drug development program focused on mental health following deep analysis of its real-world evidence (RWE) generated from more than 3,000 patients.


Chalice Gold Mines Limited’s (ASX:CHN) (OTCMKTS:CGMLF) (FRA:C8U) successes of the past year have set a very strong platform for the company to continue growing on the back of its world-class multi-commodity discovery at Julimar, 70 kilometres northeast of Perth, Western Australia.


engage:BDR Ltd (ASX:EN1) has received firm commitments to raise around $2.37 million via the placement of 430,888,917 fully paid ordinary shares at 0.55 cents per share.


Brookside Energy Ltd (ASX:BRK) and Stonehorse Energy Ltd (ASX:SHE) have completed a successful workover of the Mitchell 12-1 Well which provides the Orion Joint Venture with another cashflow stream within the southern part of the SCOOP Play in Oklahoma’s Anadarko Basin.


White Rock Minerals Ltd (ASX:WRM) is encouraged by results to date from the maiden exploration program at Last Chance Gold Target in Alaska that are expected to result in an aggressive follow-up drill campaign in 2021.


Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) (OTCMKTS:ATVVF) (FRA:JT71) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ATCO Australia for the supply of green hydrogen for AVL’s planned processing plant near Geraldton.


Anson Resources Ltd (ASX:ASN) (FRA:9MY) is powering ahead with the study and permitting process for its flagship Paradox Brine Project in the US while also assessing prospects in Western Australia.


Linius Technologies Ltd (ASX:LNU) has launched a new product in the video conferencing and enterprise collaboration markets called WHIZZARD, that is now integrated with Zoom, Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams.

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