- FTSE 100 index slides 29 points
- Travis Perkins dives as revenues retreat
- DS Smith wanted after it signals resumption of dividend payments
11.10am: Backsliding by the Footsie
It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped for London’s blue-chip equities in the second half of the morning trading session.
The FTSE 100 was down 29 points (0.5%) at 5,909 despite sterling shedding more than a cent against the US dollar; a weak exchange rate is normally reckoned to be good for Footsie stocks but that particular Elastoplast is not doing the job this morning.
Housebuilders are prominent among the big-name losers, after a disconcerting trading update from building materials flogger Travis Perkins PLC (LON:TPK0.
The builders’ merchant saw its shares dive 8.2% to 1,119.5p after it reported a 20% fall in first-half revenue to £2.78bn from £3.48bn the previous year. The board is not recommending an interim dividend payment.
Among the housebuilders, Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) was the worst performer, shedding 4.4% at 2,453p while Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV), The Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) and Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.) all suffered falls of more than 2%.
It’s not been a good month for the housebuilders so far with Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey getting a slap on the wrist last week from the Competition & Markets Authority for so-called ground rent “fleeceholding” practices.
At the happier end of the Footsie leader-board, packing giant DM Smith PLC (LON:SMDS) has supplanted JD Sports as the top riser, with a 7.7% gain to 293.9p on the back of its trading update ahead of today’s annual general meeting (AGM).
The company’s decision to resume dividend payments is likely to be a (virtual) crowd-pleaser at the AGM.
— Proactive (@proactive_UK) September 8, 2020
“DS Smith’s intention to pay an interim dividend is somewhat unclear given that conditions have not dramatically improved since the previous decision not to pay one,” said a puzzled David O’Brien at Irish stockbroker, Goodbody.
“The backdrop remains difficult given that the pricing environment has deteriorated further over the last two months and we have seen a spike in COVID cases in Europe. The pricing cycle also continues to be uncertain given the surge in container-board capacity growth in Europe in the next 6-18 months. Nonetheless the stock has responded well to the clarity provided on the dividend, even if the outlook remains uncertain,” he noted.
9.40am: Sterling still being used by forex dealers as a doormat
The pound is still being tossed around on foreign exchange markets like a rag doll, which continues to provide some support for blue-chip equities.
Having said that, the FTSE 100’s ascent is a bit like an old banger going up a 1-in-6 hill; the index was up just 14 points (0.2%) at 5,951, despite sterling shedding another two-fifths of a cent against the US dollar.
Sterling will now buy you US$1.3126.
It is down by a similar amount against the euro; the exchange rate is now hovering around €1.1107 as forex traders react to the latest posturing in the Brexit negotiations.
“The pound dipped 0.2% against the dollar and euro alike, sterling continuing to give up ground as Boris Johnson guns down the remaining cordiality between the UK and EU. It is perhaps surprising that the pound didn’t open even lower, given that the relationship between both sides seems to be fast approaching a fresh nadir,” said Spreadex’s Connor Campbell.
There was a bit of cheer for retailers as the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) measure of year-on-year growth in retail sales rose to 3.9% in August from 3.2% in July.
Excluding those months in which the moveable feast that is the Easter holiday distorted the figures, this was the biggest increase since May 2018, according to Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Tombs’s theory is that there are more UK shoppers around because foreign holidays are off the agenda for many of us.
“The BRC’s data usually are a good guide to the official figures, though they might be slightly too upbeat this month. Its figures correlate best with the official measure of sales by large retailers; sales by small retailers already were up a huge 13% year-over-year in July, so look vulnerable to slip back. In light of this, we judge that total sales volumes were little changed from July’s level in August,” Tombs said.
“Note too that households still appear to be willing to spend more on goods than services; Barclaycard reports that total spending merely was 0.2% higher than in August 2019. Meanwhile, we continue to expect retail sales to slip back in the autumn, as labour income declines with the withdrawal of government support and the accumulation of redundancies, and the temporary support from pent-up demand and the summer ‘staycationing’ boom fades,” Tombs said.
Retail sales jumped last month as shoppers spent more money online – but city centre shops and bricks & mortar fashion retail continue to struggle, according to the latest figures from @the_brc #retailsales #ukretail #retailnews #highstreets https://t.co/iZjI9uhmeE pic.twitter.com/z5mpeef8oO
— TheIndustry.fashion (@theindustryfash) September 8, 2020
“In the last decade or so JD Sports has been the star turn in the retail sector. It has shown its rivals a clean set of heels as it identified and targeted a youthful demographic with disposable income and tapped into the athleisure trend of wearing trainers and tracksuits to socialise, work and work out,” said AJ Bell’s investment director, Russ Mould.
“What comes after the current financial year is open to question. Part of its target market could be vulnerable to unemployment, particularly assuming the furlough scheme in the UK ends as planned in October but with the company’s clear retail expertise and a very strong balance sheet it should be a sector survivor,” Mould opined.
8.50am: Further gains for Footsie
The FTSE 100 kicked off in positive territory on Tuesday ahead of make-or-break trade negotiations with the EU over Brexit.
London’s blue-chip share index opened 25 points to the good at 5,962.91. But it still remains stubbornly below the 6,000-mark having drifted 5% lower in the past month amid the reality of recession brought on by the coronavirus (COViD-19) pandemic lockdown.
With Michel Barnier’s team now in London, the war of words ahead of the Brexit showdown is suggestive talks could be feisty and short-lived.
From the continent, meanwhile, the economic news was provided reasons to be cheerful. Germany’s exports rebounded, while in France, Insee, the national statistics institute, is forecasting the economy will contract by 9% this year rather than the 11% first predicted, with a rebound in activity expected in the second half.
On the market, JD Sports (LON:JD.) shot up 8% in early deals as the trainers and tracksuits group turned in a resilient half-time performance in which sales slipped just 7% as the result of lockdown.
“This is a remarkable performance given the circumstances,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.
There was a trading statement-inspired bounce for DS Smith (LON:SMDS), the packaging group, which advanced 5%.
On the FTSE 250, Royal Mail (LON:RMG) jumped 12% despite warning it would make a “material loss” this year and advising that “substantial business” change was required to restore profitability.
Proactive news headlines:
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has published initial images of three-dimensional geological modelling developed from data obtained from the Kalahari Suture Zone project in south-western Botswana. The images confirm significant similarities between the northern Hukuntsi section of the KSZ and the giant Norilsk mining centre in Siberia. Norilsk accounts for 90% of Russia’s nickel reserves, 55% of its copper and virtually all of its’ platinum group metals. Kavango said it increasingly believes that Hukuntsi has the potential to host very significant copper, nickel and platinum group metal deposits.
Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG) shares opened strongly higher on Tuesday after it unveiled positive interim data from its phase II study of inhaled interferon beta drug for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that it said was also “supportive” of its coronavirus (COVID-19) programme. The analysis of SNG001 revealed it was well tolerated in this older population studied and that lung antiviral responses were “significantly enhanced”. The results thus far support the treatment’s progression for use with exacerbating COPD patients, where the symptoms have worsened and require treatment with an anti-inflammatory called a corticosteroid and/or antibiotics. Crucially, the data helped make the case for Synairgen’s COVID-19 programme. In the update, the company said it was in discussions with “a number of regulatory agencies worldwide” to establish a route to the approval for its drug as a treatment of the severe symptoms of the virus.
Gaming Realms PLC (LON:GMR) has told investors it increased revenue by 66% in the first half of 2020 to £5.2mln versus £3.1mln in the same period of 2019. The company said that the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns were supportive of the business, with more people playing its games, and the group noted that it has maintained similar levels of growth since June 30 as well. The firm, which makes and licences real money games, noted that it has high margin revenue growth and a relatively stable fixed cost base. Earnings for the first half amounted to £1.24mln, from a £0.1mln loss a year earlier.
Seeing Machines Limited (LON:SEE) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a global semiconductor company as formal terms of engagement are finalised to licence its Occula Neural Processing Unit. The AIM-listed firm, which specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) powered operator monitoring systems, said the collaboration represented the third pillar of its recently announced embedded product strategy, which will see the company make Occula available for license as an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to semiconductor companies for integration with any automotive computing platform. Occula is an accelerator designed for integration into ARM-based systems-on-chip to enhance the company’s software and to support “ultra low-power human face, eye and body tracking”.
Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) said it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Investigational New Drug (IND) application for SLN360. The FDA has given the go-ahead for Silence to start SLN360 dose-escalation studies in healthy volunteers and secondary prevention patients with elevated Lipoprotein(a). Silence hopes to start dosing healthy volunteers in the Phase 1 trial by the end of the year but acknowledged that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may affect timings. On the corporate side, Silence announced, separately. that the US Nasdaq exchange has approved the listing of the company’s American Depositary Shares (ADS) and trading can start from today.
Digitalbox PLC (LON:DBOX) has reported sharply reduced losses in its first half after the media group said its performance had exceeded its expectations despite “difficult conditions”. For the six months to June 30, 2020, the owner of the Daily Mash and Entertainment Daily websites reported a pre-tax loss of £102,000, narrowed from a £713,000 loss in the prior year, while revenues climbed by 38% to £1mln. The company said growth in website traffic and revenues in the first quarter of its current year had offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the second quarter, with the Daily Mash, in particular, seeing record traffic during lockdown as UK users spent more time online.
Newmark Security PLC (LON:NWT) told investors that its Safetell subsidiary has landed two new contracts with two existing clients. One client, a multinational financial services company, has inked a two-year contract for security and asset protection systems across a nationwide branch network (over 500 locations) and it is worth around £1.3mln. The other, with a UK building society, is a three-year contract for auto doors located at branch entrances. It is worth an estimated £400,000.
Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), the biotech companies backer, saw its net asset value (NAV) per share improve markedly in the first half of 2020. Arix said its NAV had risen to £251.0mln by the end of June 2020 from £202.1mln at the end of 2019. NAV per share jumped 24% to 185p from 149p, the company revealed in its interim results. The group’s gross portfolio value climbed to £203.4mln from £149.2mln at the end of 2019, driven by good clinical and financial progress by its portfolio companies.
Shanta Gold Ltd (LON:SHG) said its new West Kenya project could contain a number of large, high-grade deposits with district-scale gold potential. The company’s Kenya ground is situated on the northernmost greenstone belt in the Lake Victoria Goldfield, the Archaean Busia-Kakamega (ABK) belt. The licences on this belt “cover a greenstone gold district similar in size to the great Val d’Or District-Abitibi in Canada,” Shanta chief executive Eric Zurrin told investors in a statement.
Inspiration Healthcare Group PLC (LON:IHC) told investors it has sought permission to start trials for a respiratory device designed for use in neonatal intensive care. The technology for the device, referred to as Project WAVE, was acquired in 2018 by Inspiration under licence from a leading US west coast university. The technology was granted a patent in March 2020. An application has been submitted through the Integrated Research Approval System (IRAS), requesting to start the trial at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit, Brighton & Sussex University Hospital.
Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO), the maker of next-generation proton therapy systems, said assembly activities at its Cheshire facility have resumed. In an update, the company said it has received all bespoke and high precision accelerating structures for its game-changing LIGHT technology, adding that it was expecting the delivery of further supporting equipment in line with its completion plan. The company told investors that “clinical use discussions” were continuing with the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), the London Clinic and the Mediterranean Hospital ahead of the installation of their LIGHT systems.
Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN) said it has successfully launched The Post Covid Hack, a global blockchain hackathon initiative organised in partnership with its portfolio company Indorse ltd. An online hackathon is a design sprint-like event, spread over several weeks, in which computer programmers and developers collaborate on software projects to create functioning software solutions by the end of the event. The blockchain advisory group said the objective of the Post Covid Hack is to mobilise and incentivise blockchain developers to build solutions to address social and economic issues emanating from the coronavirus pandemic. The hackathon, which has enlisted the support of over 60 partners, was launched in August with the opening of registrations and a series of pre-hackathon educational webinars.
In a separate statement on Monday, Coinsilium advised that a new special report on the company from Value The Markets has been published and is available in PDF form for download via the following link: https://d2f01vdlwcs5n6.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/07114705/Coinsilium-report.pdf
SkinBioTherapeutics PLC, a life sciences company focused on skin health, has announced the appointment of Dr Jonathan Sheffield as a senior medical advisor with immediate effect. The group noted that Dr Sheffield formerly served as the CEO of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Clinical Research Network since 2010. The Clinical Research Network delivers clinical research studies throughout the NHS in England covering primary, secondary and tertiary care. In 2018-19, the Network recruited over 902,000 patients into over 5,250 studies across the NHS.
[email protected] Capital PLC (LON:SYME) said it has been notified by The AvantGarde Group S.p.A. (TAG) that it has transferred 940,000,000 ordinary shares of 0.002p each in the capital of the company at 0.6872p per share to an institutional investor interested in supporting the company’s growth. The transaction is consistent with TAG and its group companies’ strategy to form relationships with institutions that will help to develop [email protected]‘s inventory funding capability alongside banks and intermediaries, as outlined in recent communications, it added. The company said it will announce further details regarding its comprehensive inventory funding process and its developing relationship with a number of institutional investors as soon as practicable. The group noted that its chief executive Alessandro Zamboni’s shareholding in the company held directly through Orchestra Group remains unchanged by the TAG transactions, of which he is the sole director. TAG’s holding in SYME has been reduced to 54.06% from 56.93%.
Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON), a multi-divisional new media and technology business, announced that it has received a notice of exercise from European High Growth Opportunities Securitization Fund in respect of the exercise of its conversion rights under the Convertible Bonds issued in respect of the fifth and sixth tranches drawn down under the Financing and Settlement Agreement for the aggregate principal amount of £240,000 resulting in the issue to the investor of 3,428,571,428 new Iconic Labs ordinary shares.
Chaarat Gold Holdings Limited (LON:CGH), the AIM-quoted gold mining company with an operating mine in Armenia and assets at various stages of development in the Kyrgyz Republic, has said it will release its unaudited results for the six-month period ended June 30, 2020, on September 11, 2020. Chaarat also said it will host an analyst and investor conference call and presentation on Monday, September 14, 2020, at 9:00am BST. Participants can register via the following link and will receive a link to the Zoom presentation: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xvnik3kCTlWJNATx6Jp_rg. Participants are invited to submit questions prior to the presentation to [email protected]. The presentation will be available for download from the company’s website two hours before the call at https://www.chaarat.com/report_category/presentations/. A recording of the conference call will subsequently be available on the company’s website.
Powerhouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE), the UK technology company pioneering hydrogen production from waste plastic, has said its annual general meeting (AGM) will be held at 11.30am on September 30, 2020, at the company’s registered office at 15 Victoria Mews, Mill Field Road, Cottingley Business Park, Bingley, West Yorkshire BD16 1PY. To comply with the UK Government’s current guidance in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-10), shareholders will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person and are strongly encouraged to therefore submit their votes, in respect of all matters of business, via proxy as early as possible. Should a shareholder have a question that they would have raised at the meeting, the company is asking that instead of attending the meeting they send it by email to [email protected] to be received by 5pm on 28 September 2020. To the extent that answers can be given to such questions, answers will be published on the company’s website following the AGM.
6.50am: Market called higher
The FTSE 100 is expected to post modest gains at Tuesday’s open after making a strong start to the week.
London’s blue-chip share index will climb around 10 points higher, according to spread betters on the IG index.
The US stock market was closed overnight for Labor Day celebrations but Asian markets are currently trading higher, with the Nikkei 225 up 0.6% and the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite both inching 0.1% higher.
Brexit negotiations are due to restart on Tuesday after the UK’s attempts at gamesmanship in recent days saw various ministers say they would be happy to walk away without agreeing a deal with the EU.
“Equity markets were not spooked by the tough political talk, but sterling did come under pressure,” noted David Madden at CMC Markets. “In fact, the slide in the pound helped the FTSE 100 outstrip is continental counterparts.”
He said Wall Street’s closed doors on Monday “probably helped European stock markets as the aggressive moves seen in US tech stocks at the back end of last week influenced the markets over here. The US tech sector will be in focus today as it has been very volatile recently.”
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) may be of particular focus after it was not admitted to the S&P 500 index in the reshuffle that took place after the close of business on Friday.
Around the markets:
- The pound is down 0.3% at US$1.3131.
- Oil at a two-month low at US$41.91, down 0.2%
- Gold was flat at US$1,927.45.
6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia
Stocks in the Asia Pacific region were higher on Tuesday with Japan’s Nikkei 225 advancing 0.63% despite revised GDP figures for the April-June quarter showing the country’s economy shrinking an annualised 28.1%, which was worse than preliminary estimates released in mid-August.
Mainland Chinese stocks also rose with the Shanghai composite up 0.33%. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.69% and shares in Australia also saw gains, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.67% higher.
Proactive Australia news:
SUDA Pharmaceuticals Ltd’s (ASX:SUD) patent application for Anagrelide, an FDA and EMA approved drug to treat blood disorders to be repurposed for use in cancer, has been accepted by the Australian Patent office.
FYI Resources Ltd (ASX:FYI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with leading alumina producer Alcoa of Australia Ltd for the potential strategic development of high-purity alumina refining technologies.
Dotz Nano Ltd (ASX:DTZ) has been up to 35% higher after entering an agreement granting Breathe Medical Manufacturing Ltd exclusivity in USA and Canada to supply the advanced ‘Secured by Dotz’ authentication solution for respiratory face masks and other PPE equipment.
Legend Mining Limited (ASX:LEG) continues to build upon the Mawson discovery of its Rockford Project in WA’s Fraser Range with 12.95 metres of massive nickel-copper sulphides intersected in a diamond drill hole.
Great Southern Mining Ltd (ASX:GSN) has received further strong intersections of up to 3.6 metres at 8.03 g/t gold from 169 metres in reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drilling at Cox’s Find project near Laverton, Western Australia.
Australian Potash Limited (ASX:APC) has passed another key milestone in developing the Lake Wells Sulphate of Potash project with the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommending to the Minister for the Environment that the project be approved for development.