- FTSE adds 7 points
- ADP private payroll reading tops forecast
- Wall Street to open lower
2pm: University of Oxford to trial popular inflammation drug as COVID-19 treatment
FTSE 100 yo-yoed back to the green in the early afternoon, rising 7 points to 5,904.
The University of Oxford has announced it is starting a new study to use the anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drug adalimumab to treat patients with COVID-19 in the community, especially care homes.
The trial will enrol up to 750 participants from community care settings throughout the UK, the segment of the population most hit at the beginning of the pandemic.
Recent studies of patients with COVID-19 have shown that patients already taking anti-TNF drugs for inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory arthritis are less likely to be admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile in the US, ADP reported private payrolls rose by 749,000 in September, above the consensus of 649,000.
Economists at Capital Economics said the reading supports the forecast that the official non-farm payrolls figures, due on Friday, will show an 800,000 gain.
“Employment growth appears to be slowing gradually, but remains more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate on a downward trend,” said economist Andrew Hunter.
“That said, with employment still more than 10 million below its pre-pandemic level, a full labour market recovery remains a long way off.”
12.40pm: Low start at Wall Street
FTSE 100 was down again at midday, shedding 14 points to 5,882.
Wall Street is also expected to open lower after the chaotic presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, while the market keeps anxiously waiting for a COVID-19 plan.
“These events are often overplayed for their importance and that's particularly true in an election year when the undecided vote is so small,” said Craig Erlam at OANDA.
“It's hard to pick a winner, I think we're all losers as far as that debate is concerned, but Biden went into the debate clearly ahead in the polls and I'd be amazed if last night changed anything. I guess he technically wins by default.”
On schedule we also have the ADP employment report for September, forecast to show 649k new entries.
However, the August reading fell short at 428k “and as such could do so again”, noted Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
“Economic uncertainty has increased in the last few weeks despite a rise in US consumer confidence, and while todays numbers could be a leading indicator for Fridays payrolls report, there has been little correlation in recent months.”
The US second quarter GDP is expected to fall by 31.7% annualised, with personal consumption the main drag, tumbling 34.1%.
11.50am: TSB, Royal Dutch Shell in latest round of job cuts
FTSE 100 trimmed its losses before lunch, dipping only 2 points to 5,895.
The bank is to close 164 branches, a third of its estate, costing around 900 redundancies.
TSB said it is part of a three-year strategy to cut costs and stay competitive, while it is adapting to the growing online banking trend.
Meanwhile, Shell confirmed it is cutting between 7 to 9,000 roles to save US$2-2.5bn annually by 2022, with around 1,500 of the staff who are leaving taking voluntary redundancy.
The stock was flat at 958.2p nearing midday.
11am: Former Sainsburys boss to lead COVID-19 test and trace scheme
FTSE 100 turned red again in late morning, slipping 15 points to 5,882.
Mike Coupe, who was boss at big grocer Sainsburys (LON:SBRY) until last May, was appointed as director of COVID-19 testing as part of the test and trace scheme.
He is replacing Sarah-Jane Marsh, who quit to go back to her role of chief executive of Birmingham Womens and Childrens NHS Foundation Trust.
How about putting those trained in actual infectious disease control in charge of Test & Trace?
Local public health teams should be leading contact tracing.
That way we would have an effective Test, Trace & Isolate regime that helps control this virus. https://t.co/ulmIpw1sB3
— Jonathan Ashworth ???? (@JonAshworth) September 29, 2020
Later on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to hold a conference on COVID-19 in Britain after new daily cases reached 7,143 on Tuesday.
He will address frustration over confusing local lockdown rules in the North of England, which has been met by opposition even within his own party.
Apologies, I misspoke today.
In the North East, new rules mean you cannot meet people from different households in social settings indoors, including in pubs, restaurants and your home. You should also avoid socialising with other households outside. (1/2)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 29, 2020
9.55am: GDP fall revised down
FTSE 100 tentatively entered the green with a 2-point rise to 5,900 in mid-morning.
Estimates for the UK gross domestic product (GDP) in the quarter to June were revised up to a 19.8% fall from a 20.4% decrease as previously forecast.
It is still the largest quarterly contraction in the UK economy since quarterly records began in 1955 and marked the second consecutive quarterly decline after a fall of a revised 2.5% in the previous quarter.
Compared with the same quarter a year ago, the UK economy fell by a revised 21.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics.
“The bulk of the pain of the second quarters slump in GDP had been borne by the government rather than households and businesses,” economists at Capital Economics commented.
“But with the recovery already flattening off, fiscal support fading and the full scale of the fallout in unemployment yet to be felt, that will change in the second half of 2020.”
“The renewed COVID-19 restrictions will probably mean that GDP stagnates in Q4, leaving economic activity marooned 5.5% short of its pre-crisis level. And the risk now is that renewed containment measures send the recovery into reverse.”
8.55am: Lacklustre start after presidential debate
The FTSE 100 made negligible progress as the market shrugged in a collective meh to the first US presidential debate.
While it was good, knock-about fun, the face-off between Messrs. Trump and Biden offered nothing more than a shut, man from the latter. Sandpit stuff.
“A messy presidential debate probably didn't swing the dial either way for undecided voters,” said Jasper Lawler of London Capital Group.
“That leaves Biden on track for the presidency if polls are to be believed.”
On the market, a strong showing from online fashion group Boohoo (LON:BOO), one of the Covid beneficiaries, wasnt enough to support the share price, which fell 2.4% after better than expected interim results.
The figures also came with an uplift in full-year forecasts, which also appeared to be priced in by the market.
Shells (LON:RDSA) decision to cut 9,000 jobs was greeted by ever-pragmatic investors as a positive, with the shares advancing 2%.
Proactive news headlines
Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) has unveiled a commercial partnership agreement with Glimpse Protocol, a provider of advanced technologies to Ad-tech. The media company said this collaboration allows it to be well-positioned to become industry leaders in the cookieless advertising space and future-proof this part of its business.
Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) chief executive Lord Drayson said the wider adoption of clinical artificial intelligence (AI) and remote patient monitoring during the pandemic “underlined the growth potential that our model can deliver”. He was speaking following the publication of preliminary results that showed that Sensyne was gaining significant commercial traction for its model.
Zoetic International PLC (LON:ZEO) appears to have emerged from a transitional year in a strong position with its branded cannabidiol (CBD) line registering significant early growth. The sale of legacy oil and gas assets has allowed the team to focus on the core business and the consumer reaction to the companys CHILL tobacco-free CBD 'smokes' and CBD chew pouches products has “exceeded expectations”, investors were told.
ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) has posted a reduced loss in the first half of its current year despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as it continued to focus on progressing its Lupuzor lupus treatment.
Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:PLLX) said it expects to make the submission for approval of its Xenon Polariser lung imaging system to the US Food and Drug Administration early next month. In a statement for the half-year to June, chief executive Richard Hullihen said the company had "achieved one of its most important milestones to date, the positive readout from our Phase III clinical trials".
S&U PLCs (LON:SUS) chairman Anthony Coombs has highlighted a “very encouraging” rebound in the companys trading following the UK's pandemic lockdown and there were “significant opportunities” to attract new customers and increase market share going forward.
MBH Corporation Plc (FRA:MBH), the specialist SME investment holding company, has raised its acquisition target after a strong first half of 2020. The Frankfurt-listed group completed three deals in the six months to end June but has since taken that to seven and wants the figure to rise to ten or more by the end of the year.
Minds + Machines Group Limited (LON:MMX) is expecting a stronger second half as the recovery from the pandemic-related impacts continue. The website domain company, in its interim results statement, noted that its business is traditionally second-half weighted and it is expecting both revenues and earnings (operating EBITDA) to be ahead of the first half.
City Pub Group Plc's (LON:CPC) executive chairman has warned that the chancellors Winter Economy Plan isnt suitable for the pub sector and will result in significant job losses. “The current package of support simply does not go far enough stave off immediate and permanent damage to an industry that pays significant tax and employs 10% of the UK's workforce,” Clive Watson said in a statement with the groups interim results.
AdEPT Technology Group PLCs (LON:ADT) chairman Ian Fishwick has hailed the companys “resilience” during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the companys order intake has performed better than anticipated with cash collection improving since the end of April.
Bushveld Minerals Ltd (LON:BMN) generated revenue of US$43.1mln from its South African vanadium operations during the first half of 2020, down from the US$78mln generated in the corresponding period a year ago, as lower vanadium prices and lost production due to the coronavirus crisis took their toll.
NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI)(OTCQB:NQMLF)(OTCQB:NQMIY) generated sales of £15.6mln during the six months to June 2020. Pre-tax losses amounted to £18mln, after £14mln in financing costs were added to selling and distribution expenses and administrative costs.
W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) said although the coronavirus pandemic has had an affect, production is building at its La Parilla mine as it starts to reap the benefits of operational improvements. Production in the first six months of 2020 reached 106.5 tonnes of tungsten concentrate and 64.5 tonnes of tin concentrate, resulting in half-year revenues of £1.01mln compared to £0.29mln in the same period last year.
Trident Royalties (LON:TRR) generated revenue of just under US$949,000 during the six months to June 2020, as its newly established royalty portfolio started paying out. The company lost just over £1mln before tax. Since listing on Aim in March, Trident has announced five transactions comprising a total of eight royalties.
Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC) continues to push the Kun Manie mine project closer to bankable status with the key Russian TEO report now said to be “very nearly complete”. Technical studies produced for the TEO – the Russian equivalent of a feasibility study – will feed directly into the next step, the mines bankable feasibility study (BFS).
Bezant Resources PLC (LON:BZN) said it has repositioned its portfolio during 2020 for a predicted surge in copper demand over the next decade. Colin Bird, executive chairman, noted the AIM-listed business had acquired a 30% interest in the Kalengwa copper-silver project in Zambia and a 70% interest in the Hope Copper-Gold project in Namibia.
Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) delivered a loss before taxation of £3.4mln in the six months to June 2020. During the period the companys net assets dipped to £23mln from £26mln in the corresponding period a year ago.
Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) returned a loss for the six months ended 30 June 2020 of £388,126. During the period the companies net assets rose from £414,000 as at the end of December to nearly £1.1mln.
Block Energy PLC (LON:BLOE) said it expects gas sales to commence in the fourth quarter from West Rustavi despite the coronavirus pandemic proving “very hard to predict”. The firm said gas purchaser Bago is completing the final stages of the permitting process to enable it to construct its gas sales pipeline, which they expect to have completed later this year.
ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADM) boasted excellent progress despite difficult macro conditions as it released results for the six months ended June 30. “Operations at the Aje field continued largely uninterrupted by COVID-19 and costs were significantly reduced at the asset level, bringing break-even costs down to US$28 per barrel, which ensures the asset remains profitable even at lower oil prices,” said Osamede Okhomina, ADM chief executive.