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  • FTSE 100 closes over 42 points higher
  • US stocks mixed
  • Royal rat-catcher Rentokil slips on EU warning

4.55pm: FTSE closes ahead


FTSE 100 closed in the green on Thursday as trader optimism bounced back.


The UK premier share index gained almost 43 points, or 0.62%, at 6,938 not far off the intra-day high of 6,941.


FTSE 250 also headed north, adding over 279 points, or 1.26% to 22,364.


“The losses of earlier in the week appear to be a distant memory, particularly in the US, where indices have been busily clawing back the ground ceded on Monday and Tuesday,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG, in a note.


“Earnings season appears to be providing sufficient good news to keep indices at their elevated levels, with few unpleasant surprises thus far. 2021 continues to surprise in its lack of volatility, marking a sharp contrast to the madness of 2020.”


3.50pm: Mixed bag of risers


The FTSE 100 is at its highs for the day although to be honest, that is not saying much.


The blue chip index is currently 33.07 points or 0.48% better at 6928.36 despite the fall on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, down 128 points or 0.38%. Given Wednesday’s surge the decline is not really surprising, with a little profit taking setting in. Meanwhile the S&P 500 is virtually flat, down 0.07% and the Nasdaq Composite has edged 0.26% higher.


It’s a mixed bag of risers in the UK index, with credit reference specialist Experian PLC (LON:EXPN) up 87p or 3.24% to 2776p and Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY) 3.19% or 19p higher at 618.8p after its latest update.


Back with the ECB, and speaking after the day’s meeting, the bank’s president Christine Lagarde said the euro economy was on crutches, relying on support on the one hand from governments and on the other the ECB.


Matthew Ryan, senior market analyst at financial group Ebury said: “While we are more upbeat than we were regarding the Euro Area’s vaccination rollout, clear downside risks to the growth and inflation outlook remain and the ECB will, in our view, be in no rush whatsoever to unwind its accommodative policy stance.


“We may see the bank announce that it will begin slowing the pace of asset purchases in June, but we certainly don’t expect any talk on the programme’s end date until at least the September meeting. At this point the bank will have a much clearer idea as to the state of the health crisis and, in particular, its impact on Euro Area inflation.”


2.45pm: Proactive North America headlines:


Alternus Energy Group PLC (NOTC:ALT) bolsters executive team by appointing industry veteran Gary Swan as CTO


Revive Therapeutics Ltd (CSE:RVV) (OTCMKTS:RVVTF) (FRA:31R) files US provisional patent application for oral thin-film psilocybin product following research study


Marble Financial Inc (CSE:MRBL) (OTCMKTS:MRBLF) (FRA:2V0) launches affiliate marketing program with Fintel Connect to reach more Canadian consumers


Great Bear Resources Ltd (CVE:GBR) (OTCQX:GTBAF) (FRA:0G6A) extends area of continuous gold mineralization at LP Fault, Dixie project by 25%


Talon Metals Corp (TSE:TLO) (OTCMKTS:TLOFF) (FRA:TAO) continues to hit high-grade nickel outside of Tamarack project resource area


Xigem Technologies Corporation (CSE:XIGM) (FRA:2C1) names Avi Greenspoon as inaugural member of its new advisory board


The Valens Company Inc (TSE:VLNS) (OTCQX:VLNCF) (FRA:7LV) increases domestic reach via distribution agreement with Yukon territory


Lexaria Bioscience Corp (CSE:LXX) (OTCMKTS:LXRP) says dosing in first human trial of DehydraTECH CBD to treat high blood pressure has started


Planet 13 Holdings Inc (CSE:PLTH) (OTCQB:PLNHF) crushes single-day sales record in Las Vegas with historic 420 return


LeanLife Health Inc (CSE:LLP) (OTCQB:LNLHF) (FRA:LL1) says first containers of Mike Tyson-branded Iron Energy drink headed to its Arizona distribution facility


Loop Insights Inc (CVE:MTRX) (OTCMKTS:RACMF) joins Oracle Partner Network to integrate with its POS system to get in front of more potential clients


Versus Systems Inc (NASDAQ:VS) (CSE:VS) (FRA:BMVB) engagement platform to include alcohol ads beginning in July


2.45pm: Wall Street opens in red despite fall in jobless claims


The main indices on Wall Street were trading further in the red than initially anticipated on Thursday morning despite a better than expected set of US jobless claims data.


In the first minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.37% at 34,008 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.17% to 4,166 and the Nasdaq fell 0.05% to 13,942.


Back in London, the FTSE 100 had lost some ground into late afternoon but was still 12 points higher at 6,907 at around 2.45pm.


1.43pm: US benefit seekers fall


US weekly jobless claims have once again confounded forecasters, coming in better than expected.


The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 39,000 to 547,000, the lowest level since 14 March. Analysts had been expecting a rise to around 610,000.


However the previous week’s level has been revised up by 10,000 to 586,000.






The news has done little to alter the direction of travel for US markets, which is basically to go pretty much nowhere.


At least the FTSE 100 is showing a bit of life, up 25.7 points or 0.37% at 6920.99


12.59pm: ECB sticks with stimulus measures


The European Central Bank has, as expected, kept its stimulus measures unchanged although it said it was stepping up the pace of its pandemic emergency asset purchase programme.










Robert Alster, chief investment officer at wealth manager Close Brothers Asset Management said: “In the global race to recovery, the Eurozone is trailing behind its peers. The boons of effective fiscal stimulus, successful lockdowns, and a strong vaccination programme being felt by the UK and US have each failed to take hold in the EU, causing an elongated pandemic-induced recession in the region.


“The ECB’s lending survey revealed that it expects access to credit to tighten further in the coming months, betraying huge uncertainty amongst banks and businesses, and consumer confidence is set to continue to plummet in April too.


“In this context, the decision from the ECB not to change its policy stance is understandable, but might not be sustainable. Looking to the future, we’re likely to see more aggressive easing, including an expansion of asset purchasing to tackle concerns around the rising yields coming out of the US.”






12.37pm: US markets set for uneventful opening


After Wednesday surge by US markets, investors seem set to catch their breath when trading reopens.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average is forecast to see an initial dip of just 21 points or 0.04%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are expected to edge 0.09% and 0.1% lower respectively.


Among the US companies reporting results, chemicals group Dow, AT&T and biotechnology group Biogen have beaten expectations while American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have reported losses more or less in line with forecasts.


Later come the latest figures for the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, a weekly figure that can be somewhat erratic.


Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said: “Concerns about US inflation appear to have taken a back seat this week, with US 10-year yields down on the week


“Last week US weekly jobless claims sank to a post pandemic low of 576,000, confounding expectations of a number above 700,000, a number that should have sent yields sharply higher but didn’t.


“Today’s claims numbers are expected to see a modest increase, but only to 610,000, as attention starts to turn towards the next payrolls report which is due in just over two weeks’ time.”


Back in the UK the FTSE is as uninspired as Wall Street, up just 5.1 points or 0.074% at 6900.39.


12.08pm: BP and Shell fall as crude slides


Commodity companies are proving a drag on the market.


Oil prices continue to weaken, with Brent crude down 0.73% at $64.84 a barrel.


Sophie Griffiths at Oanda said: “Oil prices are under pressure for a third straight session on the back of a build in crude stockpiles and surging Covid cases in India and Japan…


“The outlook for oil demand is clouding again rapidly, hitting market sentiment and overshadowing Libya’s force majeure news from earlier in the week.


“Attention will start turning towards the OPEC+ meeting on April 28. The oil cartel had said they would begin to increase output from May. Given the latest Covid developments and recent comments by Russia, any easing in production cuts looks increasingly unlikely so soon”


Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA) is down 8.8p or 0.64% at 1357.4p while BP PLC (LON:BP.) has slipped 0.8p or 0.27% to 294.9p.


Mining groups are also lower, with Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) off 35.5p or 1.93% at 1805.5p as UBS analysts repeated their sell rating in the wake of this week’s production report.


Setting a 1200p target they said: “We believe copper price risks versus reward is skewed to the downside and Antofagasta offers limited free cash flow and dividends versus mining peers.”


So the FTSE 100 continues to flag, now up just 5.97 points or 0.087% at 6901.26.


11.25am: Upbeat factories survey


Manufacturers are in a buoyant mood if the latest CBI quarterly industrial trends report is anything to go by.


The survey of 288 businesses showed optimism in the three months to April improved at its quickest pace since April 1973, while investment intentions saw a broad-based rebound.


Manufacturing output was broadly flat but total new orders grew at the quickest pace since April 2019. Both output and orders growth are expected to pick up rapidly in the next quarter. New export orders stabilised after falling for nearly two years and are expected to hold steady in the quarter ahead.


But for those looking for signs of inflationary pressures in the economy, the survey showed that average costs grew at the fastest pace since April 2011, and they are expected to grow at a similarly rapid rate next quarter. Meanwhile, average domestic prices in the quarter to April grew at their fastest pace since July 2018 and are expected to accelerate further next quarter.


Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “Manufacturers have reported the biggest increase in optimism in nearly 50 years in this month’s quarterly survey. Phased reopening has lifted the mood among firms, notably driving orders, employment, and investment plans.


“However, rising costs are an increasing concern for many businesses, and seem to be putting upward pressure on prices as firms try to protect their margins.”






All this has done little for the market however, with the FTSE 100 now up just 8.57 points or 0.12% at 6903.86.


10.50am: IAG and easyJet on the rise


Airlines have been volatile markets recently, with positive news on reopening and travel followed by fears of a surge in COVID-19 cases globally.


Investors seem in a positive mood about the sector at the moment, with British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines PLC (LON:IAG) up 2.02% or 3.92p to 197.86p.


With suggestions that budget airlines might do better than long haul carriers – given the prospect of further travel restrictions – easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) is doing even better, up 2.79% or 27p at 993.2p.


Overall the FTSE 100 has lost some of its shine but is still in positive territory, up 13.2 points or 0.19% at 6908.49.


10.06am: AstraZeneca climbs despite legal threat


AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) may face a legal challenge over its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Europe but so far the shares have shrugged off any worries, adding 1.22% or 93p to 7713p.




9.47am: Exhibitions group among top risers


RELX PLC (LON:REL) – the scientific and legal publisher, risk management and exhibitions group once known as Reed Elsevier – is one of the bright spots in the blue chip index.


After a well received update on its performance in the early part of its financial year, its shares are up 2.08% or 40p at 1969.5p.


Its exhibition business has obviously been hit by the pandemic restrictions, with just 56 physical events, mainly in Japan and China, with one held in the US in March. The outlook remains uncertain.


Elsewhere though its risk business is putting in a strong performance while the scientific and legal divisions are expected to show modest growth.


It said: “We continue to expect each of our three largest business areas, Scientific, Technical & Medical, Risk and Legal, to deliver another year of underlying revenue and adjusted operating profit growth in 2021, similar to pre-Covid-19 trends. The timing and pace of recovery in Exhibitions remains uncertain.”


But Rentokil Initial PLC (LON:RTO) is heading in the other direction, down 1.6% or 8.2p to 503.8p. First quarter revenues rose 15% with – unsurprisingly – strong demand for disinfection services plus a return to growth in its pest control business. But it warned that the pandemic problems in Europe could delay recovery there for several weeks.


Overall the FTSE 100 is holding on to its gains, up 25.04 points or 0.36% at 6920.33.


Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “Stock markets across Europe and Asia were generally in positive territory on Thursday, thanks to positive earnings reports from some big-name companies and a strong showing from miners and industrials.”


Not everything in Europe was in positive territory however. Credit Suisse shares are down more than 5% after the bank reported a loss of Sfr757mln due to its exposure to the collapsed US hedge fund Archegos.


8.36am: Melrose leads the way


Leading shares are adding to Wednesday’s positive outcome, although it is not exactly a surge.


The FTSE 100 is up 21.68 points or 0.31% at 6916.97.


Industrial group Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO) is top of the pile, up 2.5% or 4p to 164.05p while catalytic converter specialist Johnson Matthey PLC (LON:JMAT) is close behind, up 1.66% or 53p at 3240p.


Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY) has climbed 22p or 1.39% to 1601p after the gold and silver company issued a positive update, with first quarter revenues up 20%.


Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC (LON:SMT) is among the risers, up 1.24% or 15p to 1222p as the tech heavy fund benefitted from a 1.19% rebound on the Nasdaq Composite.


Later today come the latest UK industrial trends survey from the CBI and the weekly US jobless claims, which seven days ago came in much lower than expected so a slight increase is forecast this week.


Elsewhere the European Central Bank is expected to keep its supportive monetary policy unchanged, including its pandemic emergency asset purchasing programme. This has been extended to March 2022 despite reluctance from some members of the governing council.


Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, said: “Despite the vaccine rollout and the reopening of economies, the European economies remain in need of solid support, and the ECB will continue giving this support to its member states.


“ECB chief Christine Lagarde has one important task at this meeting: to avoid waking the ECB hawks and remain as dovish as possible despite the positive inflationary pressures globally, and the positive push on the yields front. Lagarde needs to buy some more time until the vaccination campaign shows its positive results and reopening happens for good.”


The meeting comes after the German Constitutional Court finally gave the green light to the EUR750bn EU recovery fund – although the money has yet to be paid out so the ECB is still the one in the main spotlight. Meanwhile Italian prime minister and former ECB boss Mario Draghi has unveiled a EUR220bn recovery package to help the country’s struggling economy.


Proactive news headlines


MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) (LON:MXC) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) (FRA:H5O) is acquiring MediCaNL Inc, an Israeli company providing specialist services worldwide to the pharmaceutical sector for the development of new medicines.


NFT Investments PLC (LON:NFT) has made its maiden non-fungible token investment by acquiring a stake in AEON International, a technology developer for the luxury fashion industry.


Keywords Studios PLC (LON:KWS) said it has acquired UK video game development services provider Climax Studios in a move it says will bring “significant additional scale” to its largest service line.


Spectra Systems Corporation (LON:SPSY) has been selected by the Canadian lottery to provide its Premier64 Integrity internal control system (ICS).


Bushveld Minerals Ltd (LON:BMN) said an unofficial five-day strike at its Vametco vanadium operation in South Africa has been resolved and workers have started safely returning to work.


Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) welcomed a 50% increase in indicated resources at Apollo Consolidated Ltd‘s (ASX:AOP) Lake Rebecca gold project in Western Australia. Trident holds a 1.5% net smelter royalty over the project.


Love Hemp Group PLC (LON:LIFE) (OTCQB:WRHLF) said it has re-signed the Ultimate Fighting Championship‘s (UFC’s) current welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, as a brand ambassador for the company for another year.


Belvoir Group PLC (LON:BLV) chief executive Dorian Gonsalves and chief financial officer Louise George will be presenting at a Mello event on Monday 26 April, starting at 6pm via a Zoom webinar. They will give a 10 minute introduction on 26 April and a one hour follow-up presentation the following day at 1pm before taking questions.


Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) will announce its preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2020 on Thursday 29 April 2021.


6.40am: FTSE on the front foot


The FTSE 100 is seen starting Thursday on the front foot after US markets whipped a turnaround after Wall Street began the week with back-to-back declines.


In London, CFD firm IG Markets makes the blue-chip benchmark some 25 points higher, with the price quoted at 6,926 to 6,929 with just over an hour to go until the open.


On Wall Street last night, the Dow Jones advanced 316 points or 0.9% to close Wednesday at 34,137.


The S&P 500 similarly rose by 0.9% to 4,173 at the end of play, and, the Nasdaq rose further, adding 163 points or 1.19% to finish at 13,950.


The small-cap centric Russell 2000 gained some 2.35% to 2.239.


“While the about turn is a welcome respite from the start of the week, the rebound can’t disguise the divergence taking place in various countries when it comes to vaccination levels and infection rates,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.


“Despite these concerns travel stocks enjoyed a decent rebound led by cruise lines and airlines. While the US and UK appear for now to be on top of the virus, it is still running riot in Asia, with India and Japan suffering acutely, while the situation in Europe appears to have steadied for the time being.


“This turnaround looks set to see markets here in Europe open higher, ahead of today’s European Central Bank rate meeting.”


Elsewhere, in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei climbed 590 points or 2.08% to 29,100 whilst Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.38% to 28,729. The Shanghai Composite meanwhile was down 0.14% at 3,465.


In Europe, attentions are on the ECB meeting later today which will be followed for any stimulus news. Commentary and insights around inflation will also be keenly eyed.


Around the markets


The pound: US$1.3933, up 0.01%


Gold: US$1,792 per ounce, up 0.76%


Silver: US$26.47, up 2.37%


Brent crude: US$65.06 per barrel, down 2.26%


WTI crude: US$61.10 per barrel, down 2.5%


Bitcoin: US$54,341, down 1.87%


6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia


Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Thursday as India reported over 314,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest-ever daily count recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic began.


The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.40% while the Shanghai Composite in China slipped 0.21%.


In Japan, the Nikkei 225 surged 2.08% and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.19%.


Shares in Australia advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.66% higher.


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Proactive Australia news:


Noxopharm Ltd‘s (ASX:NOX) interim data on its NOXCOVID trial points to Veyonda(R) providing protection against the progression of severe inflammation associated with a worsening of the disease in patients with moderately severe COVID-19.


Aeris Resources Ltd (ASX:AIS) shares are up after an encouraging increase in gold resources at the Cracow Gold Operations in Queensland and further strong results from the Constellation deposit of the Tritton Copper Project in New South Wales.


MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) (LON:MXC) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) (FRA:H5O) is acquiring MediCaNL Inc, an Israeli company providing specialist services worldwide to the pharmaceutical sector for the development of new medicines.


archTIS Ltd (ASX:AR9) has launched into the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market with several new customer wins that validate its portfolio of data security products.


Chalice Mining Ltd (ASX:CHN) (OTCQB:CGMLF) continues to expand the footprint of its Julimar PGE-nickel-copper discovery near Perth, Western Australia, with strong new results from ongoing exploration seeing shares increase again this morning.


Chimeric Therapeutics Limited (ASX:CHM) has confirmed that all patients dosed in the first patient cohort in City of Hope’s phase 1 CLTX CAR T cell clinical trial have advanced beyond the 28-day follow-up period without experiencing dose-limiting toxicities.


Lithium Australia NL‘s (ASX:LIT) (OTCMKTS:LMMFF) (FRA:3MW) incorporated joint venture, Soluna Australia Pty Ltd has received Clean Energy Council (CEC) approval for the 10K Pack HV pre-assembled battery systems for residential applications.


Aurumin Ltd (ASX:AUN) has received high-grade assays from reverse circulation (RC) drilling at its 100%-owned Mt Dimer Project, around 120 kilometres northeast of Southern Cross in Western Australia.


SenSen Networks Ltd (ASX:SNS) (OTCQB:SNNSF) has boosted its outlook for the 2022 financial year off the back of continued growth in North America.

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