FTSE 100 enjoys positive morning

  • FTSE 00 index rises 20 points
  • Airline stocks wanted even as quarantine restrictions begin for arrivals from overseas
  • Carnival the top riser as "end of lockdown" vibe grows

12.15pm: Market has a sleepy but positive morning

The Footsie ended the morning with a modest gain but after the initially softer opening, most investors will happily take that.

The index of leading shares was 10 points (0.2%) firmer at 6,494.

The warm and fuzzy feeling is largely down to further loosening of lockdown restrictions across the globe. Reports indicate that it may even be possible soon to get a pint in a British boozer provided it has a beer garden.

Providing a bit of an antidote to this was the latest daily coronavirus (COVID-19) update from Pantheon Macroeconomics, which wondered whether a second wave of infections is starting in the south of the USA.

Confirmed US cases rose by 1.16% yesterday, up from a 1.13% increase on the same day last week. The number of new cases rose by 6.4%, to 22,300 from 20,000 a week ago.

“The daily percentage growth is now barely falling, and the number of confirmed new cases, therefore, is trending gently upwards but this has to be seen in the context of an 18% increase in testing in the week through Sunday, compared to the previous week,” explained Pantheons Ian Shepherdson.

South Carolina has reported a 70% increase in the 70-day average number of new cases in the past two weeks even though testing has only risen by 16% over the same period.

“The surge in cases in Texas is alarming, especially because the state does so little testing, ranking 48th of the states. The spike in cases in Arkansas is due largely to a big increase in testing, but the Governor yesterday hit pause on the phased reopening of the state. Alabama's sudden drop in cases is surprising, but very welcome if it can be sustained,” Shepherdson said.

New cases are falling more rapidly again in the UK, after a pause, despite fears that the holiday weekend two weeks ago would spark a renewed increase, Shepherdson noted.

10.50am: Back in positive territory

The Footsie got over its Monday morning feeling and is now in positive territory, with travel-related stocks leading the way.

The FTSE 100 was up 20 points (0.3%) at 6,504.

Cruises operator Carnival PLC (LON:CCL) was the best performing blue-chip, up 13% at 1,621.5p continued its recovery as various parts of the world emerge a bit more from lockdown.

Mind you, the stock was trading at more than 36 quid at the beginning of the year so the recovery has a long way to go.

With the airlines set to challenge the UK governments quarantine policy for overseas travellers, there was continued support for British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG) and easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ). The former was up 8.1% at 353.94p and the latter 5.9% at 940p.

“The surge in travel- and airline-related names comes on the day when the UK implements a quarantine for overseas travel, perhaps the very definition of shutting stable doors after the horse has bolted. With lockdowns easing across Europe and no sign of a second infection wave, this move has been staunchly opposed by airlines, and it looks like the market expects the restriction to remain in place for only a limited time,” opined Chris Beauchamp at IG.

The reopening of house showrooms was also casting a feelgood halo over the housebuilding sector.

9.35am: You know it's a dull day when a SEGRO announcement is one of the highlights

The London stock market has done the metaphorical equivalent of hitting the “snooze” button and rolling over for another 15 minutes kip.

The FTSE 100 was down 9 points (0.1%) at 6,475, with sentiment dented a little by sterling adding more than a quarter of a cent against the dollar, at US$1.2694.

Following on from Fridays startling US jobs data, Chinas trade data released overnight also provided a few surprises.

The trade surplus rose to US$62.9bn in May from US$45.3bn in April; the consensus forecast was way off at US$41.4bn.

“Exports fell by 3.3% y/y [year-on-year], after rising by 3.5% in the previous month, beating the consensus for a sharper fall of 6.5%. This is a solid out-turn, considering that base effects were unfavourable. Meanwhile, imports collapsed by 16.7% last month, deeper than the 14.2% plunge in April and the -7.9% consensus,” said Miguel Chanco, the senior Asian economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The continued weakness in imports makes sense in the context of subdued global commodity prices and increasingly fragile domestic demand. Inbound shipments fell by 1.5% m/m in May, more moderate than the 5.2% pullback in April. A rebound in imports of iron, copper, coal and machine tools was not enough to cancel out gains elsewhere,” Chanco said, adding that May should mark the peak of Chinas trade surplus.

Chinas foreign reserves rose to US$3,102bn from US$3,091bn in April, versus the consensus forecast of US$3,096bn.

Pharma giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN), down 2.8% at 8.191.82p, was weighing down the index after reports emerged that it had made a bid approach earlier this year for US peer, Gilead Sciences.

SEGRO PLC (LON:SGRO), the property company that put Slough on the map (and then took it off again), dipped 0.7% at 886.6p after it coughed up £202.5mln for a 34 acre urban warehouse estate in Perivale, West London.

8.50am: Dull start to the week

The FTSE 100 gave back some of the gains it made last week as it resisted the positive pull of Asias main markets in early trade on Monday.

The index of UK blue-chips opened 41 points lower at 6,442.98.

The mornings big news was AstraZenecas (LON:AZN) response to weekend speculation of a mega-bid for US biotech Gilead Life Sciences (LON:GILD), which is worth around £72bn.

Sources from the Anglo-Swedish group quoted in most of the papers have dampened speculation, with the Times reporting that interest in the US maker of coronavirus treatment remdesivir had been dropped. AstraZenecas shares fell 1.9%.

Also off, this time 5.8%, was JD Sport (LON:JD.) in a continued reaction to the move by the companys chairman and co-founder, Peter Cowgill to offload a tranche of his shares.

British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) rose 3.7% after it began legal action over the UK governments airport quarantine restrictions.

Both Shell (LON:RDSA) and BP (LON:BP.) were up 2% each in the wake of OPEC Plus decision to maintain production cuts.

The rumoured June 22 reopening of pubs and restaurants gave publican Marstons (LON:MAR) a 15% boost, while Pitcher & Piano chain Mitchells & Butlers advanced 6.3%.

Proactive news headlines:

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) is expanding its ownership of the Wressle oil field development project, with a deal to acquire an additional 12.5% interest from Humber Oil & Gas Limited for an initial upfront payment of £500,000. It sees the AIM-quoted firms stake in the Lincolnshire onshore oil project increase to 40%. Wressle is slated to achieve first oil and begin production later this year, and when that project milestone is reached it will be transformational for Union Jacks production and revenue profile.

Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) said its consulting division has signed a three-year contract with Agria Pet Insurance to become a “trusted cybersecurity partner”. The AIM-listed firm said Agria will use its Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) service to improve its cybersecurity posture following the completion of a project to evaluate the insurer's security controls. The deal is the fifth insurance sector client the Crossword has secured over the last eighteen months and will see Agira receive regular testing of its cybersecurity processes and technology to minimise security risks and ensure continued compliance with regulations.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) has confirmed an average production of 2,394 barrels oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the first quarter of 2020 whilst detailing an opportunity for low-cost development work. In an update on resources and reserves in Argentina, the company told investors that it has identified an initial portfolio of sixteen low-cost workover and intervention operations within the Santa Cruz Sur asset package. These operations will be focused on taking additional volumes into production which will, in turn, migrate associated volumes into proven developed producing (PDP) reserves.

KR1 PLC (LON:KR1) said it has participated in a token distribution event, or lockdrop, for Plasm, a decentralised application to be launched on the Polkadot blockchain. The cryptocurrency and blockchain investor said it has time-locked 1,232 Ether, equivalent to around US$253,250, via a smart contract for various durations. In return, it will receive around 66.29mln Plasm tokens. KR1 said the investment was “a novel and innovative way to optimise the utilization of assets in its portfolio”. Plasm is a highly scalable platform that allows developers to build secure applications using its Layer 2 solution for fast and high capacity transactions.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX) has said its entrepreneur-in-residence, Christian Schetter has been appointed a managing director of the venture capital company. Schetter, who brings with him 20 years industry experience, said he hoped to move the company to its “next stage of growth” in his new role. He joined Arix last year and before that was chief executive of Rigontec, an immuno-oncology company he sold Merck.

Zaim Credit Systems PLC (LON:ZAIM) has said it is seeing demand for its credit offerings recover as the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in Russia begins to ease off. In its results statement covering full-year 2019, the company said the underlying operations performed better than expected last year, with its loss before tax narrowed to £891,589 from £1.55mln in 2018. The group's adjusted loss before interest and tax (EBIT) in 2019 was £177,000 versus positive EBIT of £915,000 in 2018. The Russia-focused fintech group said last year saw a significant improvement in its credit scoring system, with the default rate tumbling to 8.1% from 22% in 2018. At the end of 2019, gross outstanding loans to customers amounted to £32.1mln, compared to £29.2mln a year earlier.

Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) has said its board will be reduced to eight members from 12 following the resignation of four non-executive directors. Stepping down at the companys annual meeting next month are Gabriel Urwitz, Peter Sjöstrand, Allen Han, and Dr Yuelong Huang. Thanking them, chairman Dr Mike Sinclair said: “As valued board members, they have helped Advanced Oncotherapy to progress to a leading position as a technology disruptor in proton therapy, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRD) has sold 2,400 carats from its Karevleei mine in South Africa at an average price of US$290 per carat for a total of US$700,000. The transaction was conducted privately. "This sale at a time when the traditional sales channels for diamonds remain closed and at a price which we estimate to be at current market value for that particular parcel of diamonds is an excellent result in a highly uncertain market,” said BlueRock executive chairman Mike Houston.

Europa Metals Ltd (LON:EUZ) has submitted an application to the Junta of Castilla y León for a new three year investigation permit in respect of the Toral lead, zinc and silver project in north-west Spain. The company was granted an initial investigation permit for Toral in 2017, which is due to expire in November 2020, following conclusion of the customary three year period. An investigation permit provides a company with the right to pursue exploration activities at a project.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has received its third shipment of equipment for the Baita Plai polymetallic minRead More – Source

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