- FTSE 100 index adds 2 points
- Cambridge plans coronaviruses jab
- UK economy takes £22bn hit from collapse of tourism
9.45am: Cambridge University plans clinical trials for vaccine against all coronaviruses
FTSE 100 trimmed its gains in mid-morning, rising 2 points to 6,039, while sterling was flat at US$1.3148.
Cambridge University is planning to start clinical trials for its coronavirus vaccine candidate in late autumn or early next year after receiving a £1.9mln award from the UK government.
The university is collaborating with its spin-out DIOSynVax, which is contributing an additional £400,000 to the trial, and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
The formulation, called DIOS-CoVax2, is based around DNA and is aimed at protecting humans from all known coronaviruses.
“We’re looking for chinks in its armour, crucial pieces of the virus that we can use to construct the vaccine to direct the immune response in the right direction,” said Professor Jonathan Heeney, head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the University of Cambridge and founder of DIOSynVax.
“Our strategy includes targeting those domains of the virus’s structure that are absolutely critical for docking with a cell, while avoiding the parts that could make things worse. What we end up with is a mimic, a synthetic part of the virus minus those non-essential elements that could trigger a bad immune response.”
8.50am: Subdued start for Footsie
While the Nasdaq may have ended another session in record territory across the pond, traders in London were intent on taking a more cautious approach in early exchanges on Wednesday.
The FTSE 100 index opened just 13 points higher at 6,024.49.
The fixation on this side of the Atlantic was with a raft of further data pointing to a potentially painful recession, while hopes for a quick and easy vaccine fix receded as fast as they emerged.
Of course, London, or any other bourse outside the US, lacks the heavy technology weighting that has pushed the Nasdaq Composite to nose-bleed-inducing heights and appears to have detached America’s stock indexes from reality.
Here in the UK, the economy has taken a £22bn hit from the collapse of tourism, which will undoubtedly put further strain on the services sector and propel the jobless total higher.
4D stands out
Among the tiddlers, there was one major stand-out Wednesday: 4D Pharma (LON:DDDD).
The shares shot up 29% after the pharma group said results of a trial using its Live Biotherapeutic in combination with an established cancer drug called a checkpoint inhibitor “far exceeded” the threshold for success set out before the study began.
MRx0518 was used alongside Merck & Co’s Keytruda to treat 12 ‘end of line’ patients with either advanced metastatic renal cell carcinoma or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
Five people, or 42% of the group, experienced a clinically meaningful benefit from the two drugs. This was well ahead of the success threshold of 10% agreed at the outset of the phase I/II trial.
Three patients enjoyed what’s called a partial response to the combination with tumour shrinkage of 30% or greater; in the other two, the disease remained stable.
The median duration of treatment for the five patients experiencing the clinical benefit from the regimen is now 13.2 months.
Proactive news headlines
4D pharma plc (LON:DDDD) has said results of a trial using its Live Biotherapeutic in combination with an established cancer drug called a checkpoint inhibitor “far exceeded” the threshold for success set out before the study began. MRx0518 was used alongside Merck & Co’s Keytruda to treat 12 ‘end of line’ patients with either advanced metastatic renal cell carcinoma or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. Five people, or 42% of the group, experienced a clinically meaningful benefit from the two drugs. This was well ahead of the success threshold of 10% agreed at the outset of the phase I/II trial. Three patients enjoyed what’s called a partial response to the combination with tumour shrinkage of 30% or greater; in the other two, the disease remained stable. The median duration of treatment for the five patients experiencing the clinical benefit from the regimen is now 13.2 months. The treatment itself was well tolerated with no serious adverse effects.
EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT) said it has signed an equipment sale and services deal with German EPC firm ewerGy relating to a waste gasification project in Larissa in Greece, the country’s first waste gasification plant. The AIM-listed waste-to-energy technology firm said the deal involves the sale of equipment and engineering & design services to ewerGy worth €2mln, which will be paid in stages over 18 months. EQTEC also said the financial close for the Larissa plant has occurred with the first milestone payment of €200,000 expected to be received in September this year.
Iofina PLC (LON:IOF) has said it is making “continued positive progress” regarding its debt refinancing with a new US lender. The iodine maker said the necessary internal approvals have now been obtained by the lender and the transaction is in the final legal documentation phase, with the specifics of the transaction to be detailed to the market once documentation is complete and finalised. General terms include a term loan as well as a revolving line of credit which will allow Iofina to fully pay current debt holders.
Blue Star Capital PLC (LON:BLU) has said that SatoshiPay, the payment company in which it has 27.7% stake, has processed over €1mln of transactions for publishing clients. German giant Axel Springer has been an early adopter of the technology as has Börsenmedien’s leading German retail investor magazine Der Aktionär. The blockchain-enabled clearing platform has allowed readers to make micro-payments for premium content rather than being forced to take out subscriptions.
Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) said it has identified a structural zone at its Marrakai gold project in Australia’s Northern Territory. An assessment of available ground and airborne geophysical data has confirmed the presence of a 3.6 kilometre (km) by 0.5km structural zone that Panther believes might control the location of mineralisation within the project. Identified gold prospects at Steve’s Hill, John’s Reef Gold and Chins are closely associated to this NE magnetic trend according to the data, Panther added. Previously unrecognised high-priority magnetic targets were also present in the southern portion of the exploration licence that showed a similar geophysical response to Steve’s Hill.
Emmerson PLC (LON:EML) has announced the findings of a socio-economic study which confirms that the Khemisset potash project in Morocco will provide significant benefits at local, regional and national levels. The study, authored by economics professor Sallem Koubida, estimates the mine project will lift local GDP per capita by around 40%. It will create 2,385 direct and indirect jobs during construction, the study estimates, while the operational mine will create 1,500 jobs – comprising 760 direct employees – with the company aiming to fill 90% of roles with people from the Khemisset area and surrounding communities.
Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has noted a resolution of the dispute between its fellow partners in the PEDL253 licence, which hosts the Biscathorpe project in Lincolnshire. A payment from Humber Oil & Gas has been received by Egdon Resources PLC (LON:EDR) following a confidential settlement agreement, agreed in June. Back then, Humber and Egdon had said they looked forward to co-operating in the future in the development of the licence.
ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADME) said it has raised £672,500 with the funds set to be used to support its deal to acquire an additional stake in the OML 113 asset in Nigeria. It will allow the company to satisfy the £500,000 cash payment in the agreed acquisition from EER, giving the company an additional 2.25% interest in OML 113 taking its stake to 5%, while the ‘profit interest’ increases to 9.2% from 5%. “This funding brings us a step closer to completing our first deal under the company’s new leadership, increasing ADM’s position in the highly strategic asset of OML 113,” said Osamede Okhomina, ADM chief executive.
ADM Energy also said it had received notification for the exercise of warrants from participants in the £200,000 loan facility announced on April 27, 2020. The exercise of warrants is over 5,208,333 ordinary shares of 1 pence each in the capital of the company at a price of 2.4p per share. The proceeds of the warrant exercise amount to £125,000 and have been applied against the original loan amount from the lenders. The company has also issued an additional 416,667 ordinary shares at a price of 2.4p per share to one of the lenders to settle the £10,000 interest accrued on the lender’s original loan. Following the exercise of warrants, £175,000 of the £200,000 loan facility has now been repaid.
FastForward Innovations Limited (LON:FFWD) said it has a “great opportunity to scale up” and focus its capital on the areas of life sciences, longevity, healthcare and cannabinoid therapies as it reported its full-year results. In a statement, chief executive Ed McDermott said over the year to March 31, 2020, that a “large portion” of the company’s investments “have continued to make positive advances and reach significant milestones in their development” and that going forward the group was “well-positioned to deliver value over the short-to-medium term” and reach a share price that was “more reflective” of the company’s net asset value (NAV), which at the end of the period stood at around £14.2mln compared to £19.07mln in the prior year.
Karelian Diamond Resources PLC (LON:KDR) has said that it was informed on Tuesday that Steve Coomber now holds 2,300,000 ordinary shares of €0.00025 in the company, equal to approximately 4.30% of the current issued share capital and voting right.
Solo Oil PLC (LON:SOLO), the AIM-listed investing company targeting attractive production and development opportunities within the European energy market, has said it intends to report its audited annual results for the year ended December 31, 2019, on Tuesday, September 1, 2020.
Alliance Pharma PLC (LON:APH), the international healthcare group, has said it will announce its results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. A conference call for analysts will be held at 10.30am on September 22, 2020; analysts who require dial-in details, please contact Buchanan at [email protected]. A recorded webcast of the analyst conference call, including investor presentation slides, will be made available during the afternoon of September 22 at this link: https://webcasting.buchanan.uk.com/broadcast/5f3fbab0b14d87262643a98b. The recorded webcast will also be made available at the investor section of Alliance’s website, https://www.alliancepharmaceuticals.com/investors/
6.50am: Advance slowing for Footsie
The FTSE 100 is expected to start Wednesday’s session slightly higher as most traders seem content to hold fire amid a somewhat mixed economic outlook and more news from US-China trade negotiations.
Spread-better IG expects the UK bluechip index to open around 13 points higher after ending 67 points lower at 6,037 on Tuesday following a late reversal.
Recent macroeconomic data may be preventing traders from taking on much risk at the moment, with US consumer confidence data yesterday showing a sharp drop to a new pandemic low in August, a stark contrast to the ascendance of equities on Wall Street.
This caution over the state of the US economy pushed the Dow Jones Industrials Average to close 0.21% lower at 28,248 overnight, however, the other main US indices managed to advance still with the S&P 500 rising 0.36% to another record close of 3,443, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.76% to 11,466.
Upcoming US durable goods orders later on Wednesday will provide more insight for traders on the macroeconomic picture, while speeches from central bankers, including Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, at the virtual Jackson Hole symposium later this week are also likely to be watched closely.
The uncertain atmosphere on Wall Street drove Asian markets lower on Wednesday morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 down 0.08% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.12%.
On currency markets, the pound was down 0.13% at US$1.313 against the dollar, although the US durable goods order data later today could provide some catalysts for movement.
Around the markets:
- Sterling: US$1.313, down 0.13%
- Brent crude: US$46.03 a barrel, up 0.37%
- Gold: US$1,921.65 an ounce, down 0.38%
- Bitcoin: US$11,387, down 2.7%
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Stocks in the Asia Pacific region were lower ton Wednesday even as some of the major indices on Wall Street notched up new records yet again overnight.
Mainland Chinese stocks were down about 1.30% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 0.05%.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was 0.12% lower and South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.04%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 45 points or 0.73% to 6,116 with the financial sector falling the hardest.
Proactive Australia news:
Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) (TSE:PRU) (OTCMKTS:PMNXF) has a very strong footing to achieve its goal of 500,000 ounces of annual gold production after returning FY20 financial results described as “outstanding”.
Canyon Resources Ltd (ASX:CAY) has completed a range of testing, underpinning the bauxite technical specification datasheet which is the basis for ongoing offtake and strategic partnership negotiations for its Minim Martap Project in Cameroon, Africa.
archTIS Ltd (ASX:AR9) has entered a contractual agreement with an Australian Commonwealth Intelligence Agency to run a Proof of Concept (POC) for dynamic, policy-based access control of big data.
Linius Technologies Limited’s (ASX:LNU) (OTCMKTS:LNNTF) core strategy of providing personalised TV solutions continues to strengthen with the company achieving commercial wins.
Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) recently doubled exploration capacity as it accelerates the quest for new nickel sulphide targets at Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Elements (PGE) Project in Vietnam.