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FTSE 100 ends with modest gains; US stocks mixed at midday

  • FTSE 100 index closed up 25 points
  • Kingfisher the top dog after upbeat trading update
  • US traders turn eyes to Fed testimony

5 pm: Footsie redeems itself, led by Kingfisher

The FTSE 100 got it together in the afternoon, shaking off early uncertainty caused by the announcement of new coronoavirus restrictions.

The benchmark index closed 25 points higher, a 0.4% bump, at 5,829.5. The FTSE 250 was not so lucky, losing 49 points, 0.3%, to end the day at 16,821.

"The FTSE 100 was the most volatile European index today as the UK government announced tighter restrictions in a bid to tackle the health crisis," CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden wrote. "The London market gained ground in the wake of the update as the [coronavirus] rules werent as tough as some originally feared. The restrictions have more to do with social distancing and health precautions, and the economic impact is unlikely to be as bad as initially thought. European stocks took a beating yesterday and it seems the bargain hunters have been out in force today."

Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF) continued to make gains, ending Tuesday up nearly 10% at £290.90.

In the US, markets have teetered near the flatline, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average soured midday after opening in the green. The index was down 48 points, 0.1%, at noon ET.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both managed to hold their heads above water. The former gained 9 points, 0.3%, to 3,290.2, and the latter rose 52 points, 0.5% to 10,831.

"Volatility in US stocks is likely to be low as Fed chair, Jerome Powell, and US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, are testifying before the House Financial Services Committee," Madden wrote. "Mr Mnuchin said the economy is recovering quickly in the third quarter but added that targeted aid is still needed."

3:55pm: IG says Wall Street may be set for weak period

As US equity day traders mounted a recovery rally, over at IG analyst Chris Beauchamp looked further ahead to what could be a volatile period for Wall Street.

“On average, indices tend to struggle from the middle of September, losing ground gained in the early part of the month. October is also a mixed month; in ordinary years the US 500 tends to weaken as the month gets underway, before recovering in the second half,” IG analyst Chris Beauchamp said in a note.

“In US election years it is a different story, and the weakness tends to continue until election day itself.

Beauchamp added: “For the Nasdaq, the speed and scope of the pullback caught many by surprise. But it is important to remember that big gains such as we saw from April to September, have to be paid for, and the market volatility witnessed since the beginning of this month is the necessary correction for a rally that had become very overextended and was ripe for a pullback.

“The looming US election also provided an excuse for some selling.”

Meanwhile, with a more immediate focus, Beauchamp noted that in forex markets cable (GBP/USD) is set for a second day of losses and traders will be looking to see how far the currency pair may fall.

3.30pm: Footsie's gains lengthen

After US markets opened on the front foot, the Footsie sharpened up its act and added to earlier gains.

Londons index of leading shares was up 47 points (0.8%) at 5,851, helped by sterling shedding almost half a cent against the US dollar at US$1.2766.

Retailer Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF) remains the best performing FTSE 100 constituent, up 9.5% at 289.8p. Apparently, during lockdown many Britons have gone on a do-it-yourself bodging binge around their homes – or maybe they have just bought a new barbeque.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HIK) is at the other end of the Footsie leader-board with a 6.5% fall at 2,418p after it cut full-year guidance.

READ Hikma Pharmaceuticals cuts 2020 guidance after delay in GSK knock-off approval

Among the minnows, ValiRx PLC (LON:VAL) is Londons best performer, rising 41% to 39p for reasons unknown – probably more buyers than sellers..

Some bargain hunting in some of the recent laggards in the FTSE 100 with the likes of BP and Lloyds making some decent gains after the event sharp falls.

— Ronnie C (@RonnieChopra1) September 22, 2020

3.15pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Todos Medical Ltd (OTCQB:TOMDF) expands contract with Wisconsin lab to ramp up to 12,000 COVID-19 tests a day

Marrone Bio Innovations Inc (NASDAQ:MBII) announces retirement of president and CFO James Boyd

AIM ImmunoTech's (NYSEAMERICAN:AIM) drug Ampligen delivers two-fold increase in median survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients in Netherlands study

Phunware Inc (NASDAQ:PHUN) releases new mobile application software, Healthy Spaces to help individuals and businesses track and monitor personal health information

Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc (CSE:AGN) (OTCQB:AGNPF) enrolls 50% of patients in multinational Phase 2b/3 human study of Ifenprodil to treat coronavirus

Namaste Technologies Inc (CVE:N) (OTCMKTS:NXTTF) enters recreational cannabis market through new partnership with High Tide

Great Bear Resources Ltd (CVE:GBR) (OTCQX:GTBAF) optimistic on potential for high gold recovery from Dixie project as it updates on metallurgy

Ximen Mining Corp (CVE:XIM) (OTCQB:XXMMF) kicks off drilling and trenching at past-producing Providence silver gold mine in BC

HighGold Mining Inc (CVE:HIGH) (OTCQX:HGGOF) restarts drilling at Timmins projects following coronavirus suspension

Lexaria Bioscience Corp (OTCQX:LXRP) (CSE:LXX) wins ninth US patent as it expands patent portfolio

2.40pm US stocks head higher at open

US stocks started on the front foot on Tuesday with tech firms, recently under pressure, leading the way.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average started up over 29 points at 27,176. The broader S&P 500 added over 15 points at 3,296. The Nasdaq index gained over 78 points at 10,857.

On Monday, US benchmark indices headed south due to fears on renewed lockdowns in Europe due to COVID-19 along with the stalemate in Congress over another coronavirus-response bill.

Commentators reckon US markets will see much uncertainty and volatility right up now until the Presidential election on November 3.

Eyes are on Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell today as he makes the first of three appearances before the House of Representatives this week to respond to questions about emergency measures the central bank has taken to help the US economy amid the crisis.

1.30pm: One regulation to rule them all and in the darkness bind them

After back to the office and back to school, it appears to be back to March for the governments response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has introduced a number of new rules, many of which will look familiar, either because they have been heavily trailed, been introduced before or in some cases are exactly the same as previous rules except the phrase “thou shalt” has been replaced by “thou shalt not”.

Johnson said the restrictions are likely to remain in force for six months (or reversed next week if the previous form is any guide to future behaviour).

The main restriction outlined by the mercurial premier are: office workers to work from home if they can; all pubs, bar and restaurants must operate a table service (except for takeaways) and close by 10pm; face coverings must be worn by retail staff, users of taxis and cabs, all staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues except when eating or drinking; COVID-secure guidelines will become legal obligations in all retail, leisure, tourism and “other” sectors; from Monday, no more than 15 people may attend weddings or wedding receptions; the “rule of six” has been extended to all adult indoor team sports.

The proposed regulations will be subject to a full debate in parliament next week.

Current situation: phasing back in restrictions while phasing out the economic support. Not going to fly.

— Torsten Bell (@TorstenBell) September 22, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Opposition, said the Labour Party supported the new measures but criticised the government for not having a fully effective test and trace system up and running.

None of the measures particularly frightened investors; shares in the hospitality sector have already taken their lumps after it became apparent further restrictions were on the way, while the Footsie has been supported by support for some decidedly old economy stocks, such as the fags makers and oil companies.

In the former sector, British American Tobacco PLC (LON:BATS) is up 3.4% at 2,713p while Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) is 3.3% firmer at 1,385.5p.

Of the two big Footsie oil giants, BP PLC (LON:BP.), up 2.4% at 241.65p, is modestly outstripping Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB), which is up 2.0% at 984.6p.

The FTSE 100 was up 23 points (0.4%) at 5,827.

12.15pm: US indices to open on the front foot

European indices have rallied today and US indices look set to do the same.

Spread betting quotes point to the S&P 500 opening 12 points higher at 3,293 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite starting 299 points heavier at 11,078, ahead of the eagerly anticipated “battery day” presentation by electric cars maker Tesla, after the market closes today.

The Dow Jones is a bit less gung-ho, with the index expected to rise 27 points to 27,175.

Later today, Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will appear alongside US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before a House committee to discuss unspent credit facilities.

Jerome Powell has three days of testimony on Capitol Hill this week to convince lawmakers to take up another fiscal stimulus bill. The prospects aren't looking good, and Congress has its own gripes with the Fed's response. My latest: https://t.co/ugEFxe8jtN

— Sylvan Lane (@SylvanLane) September 22, 2020

Powell has already released a statement ahead of his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee saying the US economy would “recover fully from this difficult period”, adding the caveat that more fiscal stimulus would hurry things along some.

"Economic activity has picked up from its depressed second-quarter level, when much of the economy was shut down to stem the spread of the virus. Many economic indicators show marked improvement," Powell said.

"Both employment and overall economic activity, however, remain well below their pre-pandemic levels, and the path ahead continues to be highly uncertain," the Feds head honcho said.

Nike will be in focus today as the company will post its first quarter numbers after the close of trading tonight, according to CMCs David Madden.

“Only last week the stock set an all-time high so the dealers have high hopes for the results. Traders will be keeping an eye on costs and in turn margins as the fourth quarter update in June showed that delivery expenses hit the bottom line. E-commerce sales surged by 75% in the three month period, but margins cooled from 45.5% to 37.3%. Initially, there was a negative reaction to the numbers, but by mid-August the stocks wider bullish move resumed,” he added.

Back on the home front, the FTSE 100 was up 15 points (0.3%) at 5,820.

11.45am: UK manufacturing output volumes fall at a slower pace in September

The UK CBI Industrial Trends Survey for September showed signs that the manufacturing recovery is stuttering.

The survey of 277 manufacturers found that output volumes declined in 10 of 17 sub-sectors – compared with 16 sectors reporting a fall last month – with the headline drop in output driven by the motor vehicles & transport equipment sub-sector.

Furthermore, for the first time since April, there was no improvement in overall order books, with both total and export order books remaining far weaker than their long-run averages, the CBI said.

The total orders balance declined to -48 in September from -44 in August, which was below the consensus forecast of -40.

UK #manufacturing output volumes in the three months to September fell at a slower pace than in August. Firms expect the decline to ease further in the next three months #ITS pic.twitter.com/yyxKXOzz5z

— CBI Economics (@CBI_Economics) September 22, 2020

“While its good to see that output volumes once again fell at a slower pace this month compared to August, it is disappointing to see the modest improvements in order books stall, with demand at a still weak level.

“As manufacturing firms continue to battle against headwinds from a resurgence of the virus, weak global demand and uncertainty over our trading relationships, the Government must step up its support,” claimed Anna Leach, the CBIs deputy chief economist.

“As the Job Retention Scheme comes to an end, a successor must be found, while a deal with the EU will help underpin businesses resilience,” she added.

Manufacturers expect output prices to be broadly flat in the next three months (-1% in Septembers survey versus -5% in August).

Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist, said he doubted that the recovery in the manufacturing sector had fone into reverse this month, despite what the CBIs figures might suggest.

“The balance is not seasonally adjusted and it has fallen by an average of four points in the previous ten Septembers. Note too that the total orders balance often is slow to recover after recessions because manufacturers are asked to report whether orders are above or below normal levels, not simply whether they are higher or lower than in the previous month,” Tombs explained.

“Nonetheless, the recovery in the manufacturing sector appears to be losing momentum; strong growth in output over the summer likely was partly due to firms shifting work backlogs that had amassed during the lockdown. While demand for consumer goods is strong, it is very weak for capital goods, as corporates are holding back from large investments in response to both Covid-19 and Brexit.

“Admittedly, production likely will be boosted towards the end of this year, as firms in the EU stockpile UK goods to safeguard against a no-deal Brexit, which would result in tariffs imposed on many UK products. Nonetheless, this merely will represent a shift in the timing of demand, not a net increase. A sustained recovery in output to pre-COVID levels still is not in sight,” Tombs declared.

The FTSE 100 was up 21 points (0.4%) at 5,826.

10.40am: Sterling's weakness lends a bit of support to blue-chips

The Footsies gains remain meagre but after yesterdays scary cage-rattling many investors will happily accept a bit of stabilisation.

The FTSE 100 is up 15 points (0.3%) at 5,820, helped a tad by sterlings continued weakness against the greenback. The pound is down by around a fifth of a cent against US$1.2793.

One stock not participating in the rally is hotels and restaurants group Whitbread PLC (LON :WTB), which announced in its half-year trading statement that it is to cut 6,000 jobs.

The shares were down 3.3% at 2,040p.

“The Premier Inn owner has had one of the toughest first halves out there and with expectations that demand will remain subdued for a while, the groups announced plans for up to 6,000 staff or 18% of the workforce to go. This is, unfortunately, a reflection that coronavirus may have changed Whitbreads world for good, without full hotels the group isnt profitable, so a lower and more flexible cost base is essential,” explained Emilie Stevens, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“There was brighter news that the groups August sales were down just 39% on last year, boosted by staycations and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. In fact the UKs desire to holiday at home meant Whitbreads hotels in seaside and tourist destinations were 80% full. Unfortunately, this boost is likely to be short-lived and focus now turns to business travel.

“We know city demand remains subdued and with more and more businesses announcing permanent work from home plans, we wonder if the return of business travellers is more if than when. The groups full first-half results in October should shed light on just how much change Whitbread sees and how permanent,” she added.

Premier Inn and Beefeater owner Whitbread to cut 6,000 jobs as hotel demand slumps https://t.co/jldqgyEghH

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) September 22, 2020

Sector peer Wetherspoon (JD) PLC (LON:JDW) has warned it could pitch onto the dole 450 of its workers at its pubs located in UK airports.

“The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports,” said Spoons chief executive officer, John Hutson.

“We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage,” he added,

The shares were up 0.5% at 777.5p.

The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 11 September 2020 (Week 37) was 9,811.

This was

▪ 2,072 more than Week 36
▪ 505 more than the five-year average for Week 37

➡ https://t.co/Y7F7jc8bbS pic.twitter.com/y6iLf7Ro1O

— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) September 22, 2020

9:50am: IG analyst says FTSE 100 looks likely to go lower

CFD trading group IG, in a note, described the FTSE 100 as continuing in a “multi-month downtrend”.

“The rebound seen in early September took us back into the 61.8-76.4% Fibonacci retracement zone, yet we have seen that rise capitulate in style,” IG analyst and chartist Joshua Mahony said.

“With price having dropped back towards the 5,764 support level, there is a good chance the moderate gains seen since yesterdays lows will be fleeting.

“As such, another leg lower looks likely from here, with price heading back towards the lower boundary of the descending standard deviation channel.”

IG, elsewhere, noted that the attempted rally in the dollar petered out, and, GBP/USD has fallen back towards Mondays lows.

“For cable this area around $1.277 would mark a key level, as a move below here opens the way to move downside, towards $1.263 and down to $1.259,” analyst Chris Beauchamp added.

8.45am: Dead-cat bounce

The FTSE 100 opened in positive territory on Tuesday morning, recovering a tad after Mondays carnage, however, sentiment could turn on a sixpence, analysts warned.

London's blue-chip stocks opened 38 points higher at 5,841.68 after the bloodiest day in three months on Monday – one in which the blue-chip index tanked more than 200 points on lockdown concerns.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is widely expected to announce another coronavirus crackdown today, including a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, in a bid to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 infections. Advice will also be given to work from home where possible, reports suggest.

There was little respite for the travel stocks, with British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG) off 4.2% alongside easyJet (LON:EZJ), down by the same quantum, and cruise firm Carnival (LON:CCL), off 3.3%.

However, a notable riser was B&Q owner Kingfisher (LON:KGF), up 6.4% after a strong recovery in profits prompted by a boom in DIY.

“The pandemic seems to have prompted the turnaround that was eluding management at the start of the year as it struggled with weak sales in France, particularly its Castorama business,” said Susannah Streeter, analyst at the investment group Hargreaves Lansdown.

“But wielding a paintbrush seems to have become a national pastime during the pandemic, not just here in the UK but in the groups other markets too, particularly Poland and Romania although sales slipped in Russia and Iberia.”

Proactive news headlines:

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has announced that its Venn Life Sciences subsidiary has secured an important new contract to support a major European pharmaceutical company. The specialist CRO pharmaceutical services company, which is the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials, said the Paris team of Venn will be assisting a prospective, multicentre, longitudinal, non-interventional oncology study which is expected to enrol over 750 subjects whereby Venn will handle all data management, statistics and medical writing for the study. The group said the contract reinforces Venn's position as one of the leading providers of data-management, statistics and medical writing services to many of Europe's leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, a service the Company has a strong track record or providing.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) said it has partnered with EPIC ON, the premium OTT platform by IN10 Media Network, to expand access to EPIC ON's vast array of subscription-based entertainment content into new regions. The AIM-listed data-driven commerce platform noted that EPIC ON is a multiform content platform enabling users to Watch, Play, Listen, Read and engage with innovative ways on a single app. Users can access its content on a monthly paid subscription basis. Under the agreement, EPIC ON will work with Bango to expand its global presence, growing its paying user base and opening up access to its wealth of content and services by offering customers alternative payment methods.

Litigation Capital Management Limited (LON:LIT), the disputes funding specialist, said its assets under management rose sharply over the past year while there was a significant increase in firms seeking a legal solution. Coronavirus is likely to accelerate this trend, it added, with the likelihood of a substantial rise in insolvency-related litigation in all the jurisdictions where it operates. In the year to end June 2020, Litigation Capital Management said it received 522 applications for funding, which was a 25% increase on the previous year, though only 3.5% of these received an investment. The Australia-based company funds both portfolios and single cases and said there had been eight resolutions in the two corporate portfolios over the past year.

Ergomed PLC (LON:ERGO) saw its adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) surge by 40% year-on-year in the first half of 2020 and the company said it expects to see the momentum continue in the second half of the year, driven by demand for its pharmacovigilance (PV) and contract research organisation (CRO) services. The group reported adjusted EBITDA of £9.1mln, up from £6.5mln in the same period of 2019, and profit before tax grew to £6.0mln from £4.1mln the previous year. Total first-half revenue rose by 14.8% to £40.4mln from £35.2mln in the corresponding period of 2019, with service fee revenue up 25.9% – or 18.0% on a like-for-like basis, excluding Prime Vigilance USA, which was acquired in January 2020 – to £36.9mln.

Rock Resources Australasia Ltd, a joint venture between Red Rock Resources PLC (LON:RRR) and Power Metal Resources (LON:POW), has released the results of an NI 43-101 technical report on the BMV gold project. BMV comprises eight exploration licences out of the twelve for which the joint venture has applied, all of which are subject to pending licence applications. The report highlights several areas where the exploration potential is “excellent.”

Parity Group PLC (LON:PTY) has said activity is picking up again after coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic disruption affected the first half of the year. Revenue in the six months to end June 2020, fell by a third to £29.9mln while underlying profits were £61,000 against £203,000. Since June, things have improved, Parity said, helped by new contracts including two slots in the Scottish governments online purchasing system and a consultancy slot on a cyber services training contract in Northern Ireland in partnership with CyberGym.

Coinsilium Group Limited (AQSE:COIN) has updated shareholders on efforts to revive the token economics of the Indorse (IND) digital currency asset, through the use of a new decentralised finance (DeFi) based model, with the company now looking forward to key catalysts next month. The Aquis-exchange listed investor holds a 10% interest in Indorse and owns 5.79mln IND tokens, representing around 15.37% of its circulation. Eddy Travia, Coinsilium chief executive, said the firm is working closely with the Indorse team in the development of a comprehensive strategy to update the token model to what is being referred to as IND 2.0. A new Light Paper is due to be published in mid-October, to layout in more detail the proposed developments and updates which will feature in Indorse 2.0.

ADES International Holding PLC (LON:ADES) has confirmed revenue growth of 13.4% to US$249.3mln foRead More – Source

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