Britain

FTSE 100 gushes higher as crude price rise buoys sentiment

  • FTSE 100 index closes at 5,849
  • German court raps ECB and ECJ across the knuckles
  • Oil stocks top Footsie leader board

5pm; FTSE closes 95 points higher

FTSE 100 index closed convincingly higher as the rise in the crude price pushed energy firms up.

Britain's blue-chip benchmark closed up over 95 points at 5,849 as traders were also buoyed at the prospect of easing of lockdowns around various economies.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 also surged over 149 higher, closing at 16,101.

US benchmark oil (West Texas Intermediate) shot up almost 18% at US$ 24.02 a barrel, while Brent crude advanced around 10% to US$30.03 on hopes of demand for the black stuff increasing.

"UK listed oil majors have helped drive outperformance for the FTSE 100 today, with BP and the two Royal Dutch Shell listings responsible for 0.7% of the 1.6% rise in the index today," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.

"Huge questions remain for the energy sector, yet there is a feeling that the future trajectory will move towards a more normalised pricing given the rise in demand and fall in supply that is currently underway."

David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets, also summed up: "A number of counties have already reopened sections of their economies, and traders are banking on a continuation of that process."

Top riser on Footsie was BP (LON:BP.), which surged over 6% to 318.90p

4pm: Carnival reverses course

Although it came off the top a bit towards the end of the day, the Footsie was looking in fine fettle.

The index of blue-chip shares was 89 points (1.6%) at 5,843.

The day may not have a happy ending for cruise ships operator Carnival PLC (LON:CCL), which was the Footsies top riser at one point this morning.

The stock was down 3.1% at 934.6p in the afternoon on the day it extended its voluntary pause in operations in Australia and New Zealand to August 31, 2020, in response to continuing travel restrictions due to the impact of the coronavirus.

3.00pm: US stocks off to a flyer

A flying start was made by US equities as the wave of optimism about an end to lockdowns continued to sweep around the world.

The Dow Jones average was up 345 points (1.5%) at 24,094 and the S&P 500 was 44 points (1.6%) to the good at 2,887.

In Europe, there has been disquiet over a court decision in Germany that reprimanded the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

According to Germanys constitutional court (GCC) the ECB overstepped the mark with its March 2015 decision to purchase public bonds while the ECJ did so by approving this decision in December 2018.

“That the German court rejects a key plank of a decision by the European court is a legal bombshell which will make significant legal waves across Europe; However, it could have been worse. The economic and financial consequences of the verdict should be manageable for the time being. The ECB will be forced to explain itself better. Aspects of the ruling may also constrain the flexible use of the ECBs overall asset purchase programmes,” explained Holger Schmiedling at Berenberg.

“The German court has no jurisdiction over the ECB. Nonetheless, we assume that the ECB will answer the German request and explain the rationale for its standard PSPP [public sector purchase programme] in greater detail within the next three months, including a more detailed assessment of side effects,” Schmiedling said.

The decision has taken a bit of a shine off the value of the euro but has largely left UK investors unfazed.

The FTSE 100 was up 108 points (1.9%) at 5,863, just a handful of points below its high point for the day.

Cruise ships operator Carnival PLC (LON:CCL), up 2.0% at 984p, rose in line with the market – a rising tide lifts all ships and all that but in Carnivals case there has been some news flow; the company has rowed back a bit on its recently announced plans to resume cruises in the US, adding the caveat that it will seek approval of US authorities to do so.

“The company also says it would operate in line with social distancing guidelines. Even if it runs its ships well below capacity, this seems like a big ask,” suggested AJ Bells investment director, Russ Mould, on the assumption that enough people to re-enact the stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera” would ever book a cruise trip again.

“Cruises have been at the sharp end of this crisis, both because of the pause in travel and tourism and because cruise ships themselves have seen significant coronavirus outbreaks.

“These factors seem likely to depress demand as people, particularly the older demographic which still dominate passenger lists, are wary of being in close quarters with other people for an extended period of time,” Mould said.

1.30pm: Cementing the morning's gains

US markets are expected to open higher despite some predictably dismal trade figures.

The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to open 241 points or so higher at around 23,991 and the S&P 500 is seen opening 28 points firmer at 2,871.

The US trade deficit for March clocked in at US$44.4bn, expanding from Februarys trade deficit of US$39.8bn.In London, a recovering pound has not stopped blue-chips from cementing the mornings gains.

A strong exchange rate is generally reckoned to be bad for most Footsie stocks but despite the pound clawing back about a quarter of a cent against the dollar after yielding a lot of ground yesterday to the greenback, the index was up 98 points (1.7%) at 5,751.

The US #Trade #Deficit widened to -$44.4 billion in March of 2020 from a downwardly revised -$39.8 billion in the previous month and in line with market expectations of a -$44 billion gap. March exports were $187.7 billion, and imports were $232.2 billion.#DGCX #FOREX #FUTURES pic.twitter.com/5pFltpu0iW

— EGM Futures (@EgmFutures) May 5, 2020

12.30pm: Oil price shows signs of life

Its been a good day for the oil price and as you might expect the heavily-weighted oil giants in the Footsie are in demand.

The FTSE 100 was up 89 points (1.6%) at 5,843, boosted by the strength of BO PLC (LON:BP.), up 5.7% at 317.85p, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB), up 5.5% at 1,288.6p.

Brent crude for July delivery is up US$2.40 at US$29.60 a barrel.

“The rebound started late in the US session on Monday and was led by energy stocks as crude prices continue to rebound strongly. Production cuts combined with reopening measures across the US and Europe seem to be behind the rally in oil prices, although we're still at extremely low levels and capacity is still fast running out,” opined Craig Erlam at OANDA.

“Oil prices have hardly recovered though, with WTI [the US oil benchmark] still trading in the low $20 range, a level deemed disastrous not too long ago. It's easy to get too carried away with high single percentage gains when prices have fallen as far as they have. The real test will come in two weeks when the June contract expires,” he noted.

The inventory data due today from the Amercian Petroleum Institute “will be interesting”, Erlam reckons, after the last five weeks saw stockpiles rise by more than 58mln barrels.

11.15am: Car sales fall to level last seen the year after WWII ended

Having recovered from a mid-morning dip, Londons blue-chips are back on the rise.

The FTSE 100 was up 76 points (1.3%) at 5,830.

Traders have largely ignored this mornings final purchasing managers survey of the health of the UK services industry.

“The final services PMI deteriorated to a record low of just 13.4 (series started in July 1996). This was revised up from the “flash” reading of 12.3 and was down from 34.5 in March (the previous record low), 53.2 in February and a 16-month high of 53.9 in January,” reported Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club/

“Aprils reading of 13.4 was hugely below the 50.0 level that indicates flat activity” he noted.

“We expect the economy to contract around 13% quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter on the assumption that there is some lifting of restrictions on activity during the quarter,” Archer revealed.

A day after it emerged that a mooted merger between car dealers Pendragon PLC (LON:PEN) and Lookers PLC (LON:LOOK) was a non-starter, there was depressing news relating to car sales in the UK.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported that a mere 4,321 new cars were registered last month, compared to 161,064 sales in April 2019.

It was the lowest level of sales in a single month since 1946.

Car showrooms were closed during the month as part of a move to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Shares in Lookers were down 2.1% at 23.5p but Pendragon clawed back some of yesterdays losses, rising 1.7% to 7.74p.

9.35am: Some of the gloss taken off the Footsie after revised PI confirms slump in services sector activity

The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) Business Activity Index slumped to 13.4 in April from 34.5 in March.

The earlier 'flash' reading for April was 12.3. Before the last two months, the survey-record low stood at 40.1 in November 2008.

Around 79% of survey respondents reported a drop in business activity during April, which was almost double the survey-record set in March (43%).

Reduced volumes of activity in April were overwhelmingly attributed to either business closures, shutdowns among clients or shrinking sales due to a slump in non-essential spending.

Close to one-in-seven survey respondents (14%) commented on unchanged business activity since March, which was often viewed as a successful outcome after enacting business continuity plans and home working, IHS Markit said.

“April's PMI data highlights that the downturn in the UK economy during the second quarter of 2020 will be far deeper and more widespread than anything seen in living memory,” declared Tim Moore, the economics director at IHS Markit.

"Historical comparisons of the PMI with GDP indicate that the April survey reading is consistent with the economy falling at a quarterly rate of approximately 7%, but we expect the actual decline in GDP could be even greater, in part because the PMI excludes the vast majority of the self-employed and the retail sector,” he said.

"While output, new work and employment indices all hit all-time lows in April, survey respondents indicated a tentative upturn in their business expectations amid hopes that a gradual re-opening of the economy can be achieved in the summer; however, service providers looking to re-establish business operations overwhelmingly commented that capacity would remain well below previous levels for an extended period and any timings remain highly uncertain,” he added.

Duncan Brock, the group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), said the service sector reached stasis in April.

“Though a further downturn was anticipated after last months historically low figures, the scale of this fall is unnerving. A significant number of businesses in shutdown now may never reopen. Even with some movement in the lifting of restrictions on business activity, the UK economy is not a tap that can just be turned on. The flow of activity will take planning, Government support and an end to the pandemic in sight to have a strong effect on the biggest driver in the UK economy,” Brock said.

Traders did not seem overly alarmed, partly because this was a revision to the “flash” estimate previously released.

The FTSE 100 ebbed a little following the PMI release to 5,840 but was still sitting on a healthy 86 point (1.5%) gain.

???????? Huge slump in UK services activity in April, latest PMI data shows, with the Business Activity Index collapsing to 13.4. Input costs ease for the first time since 1996. Read more at https://t.co/ePOZZcXC3Q pic.twitter.com/yeh16qdGPM

— IHS Markit PMI™ (@IHSMarkitPMI) May 5, 2020

9.25am: Triple-digit gain for the Footsie

The FTSE 100 was holding on to a triple-digit gain early morning on Tuesday with resource stocks and financial issues to the fore.

Londons index of heavyweight stocks was up 101 points (1.7%) at 5,854, as investors began to dream of an imminent end to lockdowns.

“With Boris Johnson likely to unveil some form of lockdown plan this week, Italy and Spain easing restrictions, and California to follow suit on Friday, investors decided to turn away from the US-China tensions to focus on the idea that the worst part of the pandemic may be approaching its end,” said Connor Campbell at Spreadex.

The top riser in London was Itaconix PLC (LON:ITX), the speciality chemicals group, which said it has made headway in its cost-cutting drive.

The shares rose 76% to 1.45p as the company reported a 42% year-on-year increase in revenue, partly as a result of better-than-expected sales of a new dishwashing detergent in North America by the Canadian company, New Wave Global Services.

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi PLC (LON:SAA) climbed 20% to 54.8p after serial “buy and build” specialist Vin Murria (and family) took a 13.25% stake in the company.

8.45am: Up day to start

The FTSE 100 got off to a rip-roaring start amid UK preparations to exit the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The index of UK shares opened 96 points higher at 5,850.04.

Ministers are reportedly preparing a back-to-work blueprint for seven sectors of the economy, providing guidelines business will have to follow to get up and running again.

According to the Daily Mail, which has seen the draft guidelines, “there will be no return to normality in the foreseeable future with the government telling businesses the restrictions could remain in place for up to a year”.

As touted on Monday, employers will be told to close canteens and other communal areas, with staff encouraged to eat packed lunches on their own.

While the message was a gloomy one from Fleet Street, Londons Square Mile was more enamoured of the leaked plans.

However, the mood of euphoria may be short-lived. Later Tuesday the focus will be on the German constitutional court and its ruling on the European Central Banks bond-buying programme.

“This could limit the amount of bonds the Bundesbank can buy, potentially creating a rift with the ECB and other member states,” said Neil Wilson, an analyst at Markets.com.

He said the real concern was whether an adverse ruling could affect the €750bn Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), which has much looser rules than other quantitative easing programmes.

“Its high stakes – if the court blocks the Bundesbank from participating in QE it would be curtains for the ECB and creates significant Eurozone breakup risks. The good news is that the judges probably realise this. High stakes but the risk of serious ructions appears low.”

Back here in the UK, bargain-hunters were out in strength, though the buying activity appeared to be driven more by sheer optimism than conviction.

Carnival (LON:CCL), for example, was up 6% even though the outlook for the cruise market is a fairly dire one.

The same could be said of the market fundamentals for miners such as Glencore (LON:GLEN), up 4.6%, and BP (LON:BP.), ahead 4.4%.

Proactive news headlines:

Itaconix PLC (LON:ITX) said it has made significant progress in its operational efforts to extend the company's cash runway. The speciality chemicals group announced in mid-March, when the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were starting to be felt, that it had enough funds to operate until the end of May and would look to conserve cash and negotiate terms on payments due. While the company is pulling out the stops to prevent cash leaving the company, it said it has also made significant progress on increasing revenue in the first four months of 2020, with revenue up 42% year-on-year at US$600,000. Itaconix noted that the strong growth is primarily from the continued commercial progress and success of the company's detergent polymers.

genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) said its hepatitis-C diagnostic has received whats called prequalification from the World Health Organisation. This means the product joins a list of devices eligible for purchase by United Nations procurement agencies. WHO member states are encouraged to buy from the list. The genedrive HCV-ID kit is a portable molecular testing kit for hepatitis-C that delivers results in 90 minutes from a small plasma sample. This allows healthcare workers to operate in the field rather than hospitals. In a statement, Genedrive chief executive David Budd called the WHO prequalification an “important milestone”.

In a separate statement later, genedrive also announced its intention to raise £7mln, before expenses, by way of a conditional placing with existing and new institutional investors through the issue of 8,750,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 80p each, a 60% discount to its mid-market closing share price on May 4. It also announced a proposal to raise up to a further £1 million by way of a broker option through the issue of up to 1,250,000 additional new ordinary shares at the placing price to enable smaller shareholders and other retail and institutional investors to participate in the fundraising. The group said the net proceeds of the fundraising will support the rapid development of the Genedrive® SARS-CoV-2 assays, fund the scale-up of the Genedrive-96-SARS-CoV-2 test including the build-up of inventory for an initial period, fund product development, commercialisation and general corporate purposes.

BATM Advanced Communications Limited (LON:BVC) said its Adaltis subsidiary has launched a new range of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits. The networking tech and medical lab specialist said initial orders of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) serological testing kits, which diagnose if someone has had the disease by detecting antibodies in their blood, are now being shipped to several customers in Europe and that it is ramping up production to fulfil further orders.

Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) announced that it has now reduced cash remuneration for directors by 90%, down to a total of £100,000 or £8,000 per month. In a statement, the group said its chairman John Bell has waived his annual fees of £100,000, and senior non-executive director Linda Beal has waived annual fees of £35,000. Both waivers are for twelve months. Senior employees have also agreed to accept temporary salary reductions of between 20% and 40% in return for share options, it added.

AfriTin Mining Ltd (LON: ATM) said it has secured £2.05mln from a new loan note facility. The group said the funds will be used to improve its financial position as production ramps up at the company's flagship Uis tin mine in Namibia and to mitigate any potential effects from the coronavirus that may occur concerning future tin shipments or the company's wider supply chain. The notes, which are issued in tranches of £50,000, bear an interest rate of 10% per annum to be accrued and payable in full on redemption and have a 12-month term.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) (NASDAQFIRSTNORTH:FARON) said it has selected AGC Biologics as the contract manufacturer for Clevegen, its clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy candidate. AGC will help support the expansion of trials to assess the treatments safety profile and potential efficacy in nine different cancer types. Farons chief executive, Dr Markku Jalkanen, said the tie-up would provide flexible and cost-efficient manufacturing.

Touchstone Exploration Inc (LON:TXP) (TSE:TXP) announced, in a statement after Mondays close, that it has signed a framework agreement for the sale of natural gas and gas liquids produced from the Ortoire block, onshore Trinidad. The agreement is signed with the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago and Heritage Petroleum Company.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it mined 1,237 Bitcoin in the first four months of 2020, a 122% increase over the previous four months. In an update for April, the cryptocurrency miner also said that over the last month it has installed 1,000 Bitmain Antminer S17+ mining machines, taking its total capacity to around 18,000 machines, a 244% increase in power from the end of last year. Argo also announced that its incumbent chief financial officer, Timothy Le Druillenec, will be stepping down with immediate effect to become a non-executive director and will be replaced as CFO by James Savage. Argo noted that Savage has seven years' private practice experience in auditing and corporate finance across capital markets in the UK, US and Canada and has held roles managing audits of large multinational groups and carried out valuations for investment funds.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) said it has entered into a three-year distribution agreement with Asian product developer and distributor, Pierce Group. The agreement grants Pierce exclusive rights to import and commercialise OptiBiotix's SlimBiome weight management ingredient and LPLDL, its cholesterol-lowering probiotic, in China and Hong Kong. Under the agreement, Pierce will also conduct business development activities in other Asia-Pacific geographies to advance OptiBiotix's commercial interests. Market exclusivity is linked to minimum yearly order quantities.

Gaming Realms PLC (LON:GMR) said it has extended its licensing and revenue share agreement with 888 Holdings PLC (LON:888) by launching its Slingo Originals portfolio on 888casino.com. "Today's announcement reaffirms our strategy to continue developing and expanding our partnerships with the world's leading gaming brands”, Gaming Realms executive chairman Michael Buckley said in a statement. “As one of the world's most popular online gaming providers with an established global user base, 888 provides the perfect fit for Gaming Realms as we focus on creating new and exciting games and bringing these to a greater international audience. We are extremely pleased to have extended our agreement and look forward to continuing to work closely with the team at 888", he added.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has confirmed that the first shipment of equipment needed for construction at its Baita Plai mine in Romania has arrived on-site and is currently being unloaded. The shipment includes the longest installation lead time items consisting of railway tracks and locomotives. The shipping schedules of the remaining containers of equipment remain on track, the group said.

Asiamet Resources Ltd (LON:ARS) booked a net loss of just over US$7mln in the year to December 31, 2019. The company closed out the year with US$418,000 in cash, a total that was subseqRead More – Source

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