Politics

FTSE 100 closes ahead with Ocado top of the pile after successful M&S switch

  • FTSE 100 closes up 79 points
  • Novavax expands agreement with Serum Institute of India
  • US tech stocks on the up

5pm; FTSE 100 closes firmly ahead

FTSE 100 posted a positive finish on Tuesday as US tech stocks rose once again and UK chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted there may be more jobs support after the furlough scheme ends.

Britain's benchmark of leading shares finished the day up around 79 points, or 1.32%, to 6,105.

"While fears of a spike in bankruptcies and job losses had been holding back sentiment ahead of the ending of furlough next month, comments from Rishi Sunak over his willingness to support jobs “in a creative way” shows the potential for further action in the weeks ahead," noted Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trader IG

Top riser on Footsie was online grocer Ocado (LON:OCDO), which surged over 10% to 2,598p as it hailed the successful switch to Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS) reporting a 50% jump in retail sales for the third quarter.

US and Canada 11.30am EST/4.30pm

Wall Street benchmarks were heading higher on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up over 145 points at 28,139. The S&P 500 added 31 points at 3,414. The tech heavy Nasdaq exchange added 152 points at 11,208. Up in Toronto, the TSX surged over 133 points at 16,493.

3.30pm: Novavax to produce 2bn COVID-19 vaccine doses

FTSE 100 held tight onto its gains before close, advancing 62 points to 6,088.

In the US, Novavax Inc (NASDAQ:NVAX) added 1% to US$106.88 after announcing it expanded its agreement with Serum Institute of India to produce 2bn doses annually of its COVID-19 vaccine.

All planned capacity is scheduled to be brought online by mid-2021.

The biotech enrolled the first volunteer for the Phase II of clinical trials in late August, expanding on Phase I by including older adults of between 60-84 years of age. Results are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

2.48pm: Wall Street ascends at the opening bell

Wall Street has seen a positive start on Wednesday, as expected, as investors appeared to be in a positive mood ahead of the Feds meeting and Apple Incs (NASDAQ:AAPL) product launch.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.77% to 28,210, while the S&P 500 rose 0.88% to 3,413 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.2% to 11,189.

Investors seemed particularly keen on shares in the tech giant ahead of the announcements, with Apples shares up 1.9% at US$117.50 in early deals.

Meanwhile, some analysts are saying that the outcome of the Feds meeting on Wednesday could also prove to be a movement catalyst for gold prices, which are closing in on US$2,000 per ounce.

“The [Feds] decision to amend its framework last month has people seemingly convinced that we're going to hear something that will push rates lower, hit the dollar and be the catalyst for gold's run at US$2,000”, said OANDAs Craig Erlam.

“This is a perfectly reasonable assumption with it being the first meeting since the announcement but I just wonder whether the rebound we've seen in inflation over the last couple of months may affect its desire to make bold promises. It's going to be an interesting one and with the dollar momentum showing signs of shifting, I do wonder whether it's poised for a surge in the event that the Fed underdelivers. This would be bad news for the yellow metal”, he added.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was little moved into late-afternoon, up 69 points at 6,096 shortly after 2.45pm.

1pm: Wall Street to see green open

FTSE 100 jumped 68 points to 6,094 in the early afternoon, while Wall Street is also expected to open higher.

US stocks are still enjoying the positive ride after Mondays session ahead of the start of todays Fed meeting, with the focus also on todays Apple event.

The market will want to hear any clues about the timing of a release for a new iPhone, which is not expected today, as well for the level of improvements to products like the iPad and Apple Watch.

Tech-oriented investors have been also waiting for plans for a new 5G phone, however an announcement of the sort may be further delayed amid the pandemic.

According to analysts, the success of the new iPhone SE could well prompt Apple to focus more on the lower end of the iPhone market when it comes to its new iPhone 12, given the current global slowdown.

“Apple certainly needs to do more to justify its current US$2trn valuation, and while the recent share split has made the shares cheaper and as such, more readily available to so-called RobinHood retail traders, there is a risk that its current valuation isnt truly reflective of the underlying fundamentals,” said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

Remaining in the industry, analysts at Spreadex are also waiting for White House reaction following the TikTok/Oracle deal.

12noon: IEA expects “even more fragile” winter outlook

FTSE 100 was steady before lunchtime, advancing 54 points to 6,080.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said global demand from January to July was 10.5mln barrels per day (bpd) below last years level, while crude stocks in OECD countries reached an all-time high in July.

The organisation said the outlook appears “even more fragile” than forecast last month, with fresh restrictions weighting on economic activity and lowering expectations for a recovery in energy demand.

The resurgence of new cases in many countries, local lockdown measures, continued teleworking and the weak aviation sector led to downward revisions of demand estimates for the third and fourth quarter of 2020.

As a result, demand in 2020 will fall by 8.4mln bpd compared to 2019, while the previous forecast was 8.1mln bpd. In 2021, demand is estimated to grow by 5.5mln bpd.

11am: UK overwhelmed by COVID-19 testing demand

The Footsie kept climbing in late morning, advancing 48 points to 6,075.

On the pandemic front, the UK is battling with the overwhelming demand for COVID-19 tests.

Over 200,000 assays are carried out each day but the requests are much more, especially after kids returned to school.

According to The Times, Westminster is looking to clamp down on “frivolous demands”, since they did not expect so many people would be applying to get tested.

However, home secretary Priti Patel said she rejects the characterisation of some tests as “frivolous” and the government is doing its best to cope with a challenging task.

No walk-in, drive-through or home tests are available in ten areas most hit by the virus, LBC radio reported on Monday.

The government recently announced a new facility in Leicestershire able to process 50,000 assays per day, while a new lab at Newport is already active.

Diagnostic kit producers Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) and Omega Diagnostics Group PLC (LON:ODX), which advanced sharply on Monday amid reports on UK problems with the track and trace system, held up with a 7% and 8% rise respectively.

9.50am: Eat Out to Help Out scheme hinders supermarkets sales growth

FTSE 100 was on the rise in mid-morning, adding 43 points to 6,069, while sterling advanced 0.4% to US$1.2896.

“The pound has been largely unmoved by this mornings latest unemployment numbers,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.

“The US dollar has slipped back a little more after yesterdays losses, as the latest Fed meeting starts to get underway later today, with gold prices back at one-week highs.”

Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) and J Sainsbury PLC (LON:SBRY) were little moved despite research from Kantar that showed that the governments Eat Out to Help Out scheme hindered supermarkets sales growth last month.

Four-week grocery sales growth decelerated to 8.0%, the slowest rate since April, as shoppers spent £155mln less in supermarkets in August.

Supermarket alcohol sales were one notable sign of the trend of people spending less time at home, with wine sales down 5% month-on-month and beer down 10%, while sales of personal grooming products were higher, with hair styling 17% higher and hair removal treatments up 11%.

There were other signs of a slight move towards normal shopping patterns as online grocery growth continued to slow, down to 12.5% of total sales this month from a peak of 13.5%. However, with year-on-year growth of 77% it still remains massively elevated than before the pandemic.

8.55am: Gains for Footsie

The FTSE 100 opened in positive territory on Tuesday with traders drawing crumbs of comfort from some outwardly lacklustre employment data.

London's blue-chip index started 21 points to the good at 6,048.02.

The UK economy has shed almost 700,000 jobs since March, with a further five million people still temporarily out of work. The number of people on payroll dropped month-on-month by 36,000, which was slightly alarming given the return to work across a number of sectors, including hospitality.

Commenting on the data, Office for National Statistics director Darren Morgan said: “Some effects of the pandemic on the labour market were beginning to unwind in July as parts of the economy reopened. Fewer workers were away on furlough and average hours rose. The number of job vacancies continued to recover into August, too."

“Nonetheless, with the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work,” he added.

On the market, the switch to online shopping and the move to stock Marks & Spencer rather than Waitrose lines bolstered the financial performance of Ocado (LON:OCDO). It rose 4.6% in the wake of its latest trading statement.

A raft of broker upgrades saw the miners rise up the ranks with gains of 1.7%-2.4%.

Goldman Sachs moved BHP (LON:BHP) to buy; JP Morgan is now a fan of Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) with an overweight rating; while Glencore (LON:GLEN) received the RBC seal of approval as it changed its call to overweight.

Better-than-expected trading from rail and bus operator FirstGroup (LON:FGP) drove the shares 11% higher.

After hours, William Hill (LON:WMH) unveiled a deal that gives it a larger foothold in the US, which was greeted warmly by the market as the shares were marked 6.7% higher. Fellow bookmaker Flutter (LON:FLTR) received a 3.7% bump.

Proactive news headlines:

Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) has signed an exclusive deal with top tier games studio Ubisoft to deliver native in-game advertising into the Hyper Scape game. Hyper Scape is Ubisofts free-to-play, urban battle royale game, with a game mode style like Fortnite. It was launched in mid-August. Chief executive James Draper noted that Ubisoft has become a close partner of the company. Other Ubisoft games, which arent attached to todays deal, include the Tom Clancy franchise of games titles, Watch Dogs, Just Dance, Assassins Creed, and Far Cry. Bidstack will now deliver in-game ads across PC and console, Xbox and Playstation, versions of the game.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has signed a deal with an unnamed US company for the “large scale manufacture and commercialisation” of a line of its SweetBiotix natural alternatives to sugar. The new partner, whose identity is being kept confidential to protect its launch plans, has been granted an exclusive worldwide licence. In return, it will bear the product manufacturing and marketing costs of the roll-out and all future expenditure for a “number” of products. OptiBiotix said it will receive a “modest six-figure payment” on signing the agreement and at 12 monthly intervals until product launch.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) (ASX:THR) has raised just over £1mln from a fundraising round in which key investors and directors featured heavily. Metal Tiger (LON:MTR), the well-known boutique mining finance house that has supported Thor in the past, came in for £150,000, while Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) invested £138,000, subject to shareholder approval. Broker SI Capital also invested, as did company directors Mick Billing and Mark McGeough.

Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT) (LON:AMYT) looks set to receive orphan designation for its preclinical gene therapy for the rare skin condition dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, which would provide the company with regulatory and financial incentives. A European Medicines Agency (EMA) committee has delivered whats called a “positive opinion” on the drug candidate, which is normally followed 30 days later by full ratification. Orphan status is designed to aid the development and sign-off of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting no more than five in 10,000 people. Incentives include ten years EU exclusivity following approval.

Mkango Resources Ltd (LON:MKA) (CVE:MKA) said it has discovered significant showings of titanium dioxide mineralisation in a soil sampling and auger drilling programme at its 869 square kilometre Mchinji licence in Malawi. “Mkango is focused on developing the Songwe rare earth deposit in Phalombe district in Malawi and is looking forward to completing the feasibility study,” Mkangos president, Alexander Lemon said in a statement. “We are very pleased to add this new rutile and ilmenite discovery to our portfolio of projects in Malawi. These early-stage results show similarities in terms of saprolite-hosted mineralisation to the recent rutile discoveries made on the adjoining Sovereign Metals Ltd licence to the east, and suggest the potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits within Mkango's large licence area, in what could potentially be a new province of rutile mineralisation."

Emmerson PLC (LON:EML) has highlighted “excellent progress” at its Khemisset potash project in Morocco at what it said is a “pivotal time” for the company. The group noted that multiple work streams are currently in progress to further de-risk the project and provide confidence in its finance and due diligence processes, including geological work that will prepare for and finalise the scope of general site investigation as well as a further seismic survey and additional drilling to further prove out early mining blocks. Emmerson also said engagement with potential strategic partners, debt providers and anchor investors is “proceeding well”, with multiple opportunities being investigated and due diligence processes now underway.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) has reported record revenue growth in the first half of its current year and reiterated its expectation that end-user spending will hit £2bn by the end of the year. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the mobile commerce specialist reported revenues of £4.77mln, up 50% year-on-year, while adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) came in at £1.09mln, more than double the entire 2019 EBITDA of £0.45mln. The company also said end-user spend in the first half was £743mln and “remains on track” to reach £2bn in the year.

Location Sciences Group PLC, (LON:LSAI), the mobile advertising verification group, boosted its revenues and cut losses in the first half of 2020 in spite of widespread coronavirus disruption. Mark Slade, the company's chief executive, said he was encouraged by the progress over the half-year in the face of the problems caused by lockdown restrictions. The group won its first client for the Verify Audience platform earlier this month. Revenue over the six months to June 30, 2020, increased by 43% to £650,000 while its underlying losses (EBITDA) dropped to £335,000 from £901,000.

Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) has reported narrower losses and higher revenues in its first half as it said the rise in home working and internet use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has emphasised the relevance of its services and boosted order intake in the period. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the AIM-listed group posted a pre-tax loss of US$1.2mln, narrowed from a US$1.9mln loss in the prior year, while revenues jumped 48% to US$6.2mln. Annualised recurring revenues also surged 54% to US$8.8mln. The company also noted that revenues from its DDoS protection-as-a-service contracts had more than doubled to US$1.2mln from US$0.5mln last year.

Filta Group Holdings PLC (LON:FLTA), the commercial kitchen services specialist, said sales continued to recover in July as restaurants reopened after the coronavirus (COVID-10) pandemic lockdown. Month on month revenues grew 40% in each of June and July, the AIM-listed group said, though it added that it is mindful of the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19 disruption. Revenues in the half-year to June 30, 2020, were £8.3mln (2019: £12.2m) as, after a good first quarter, COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions had a significant impact.

Eden Research PLC (LON:EDEN) has announced that the patent behind its Sustaine encapsulation technology has been granted in Australia, the first patent specifically covering the use of Sustaine with third party active ingredients to be granted anywhere in the world. The AIM-quoted sustainable biopesticides and plastic-free encapsulation technology company noted that the patent is for 'Encapsulation of High Potency Actives' allowing for the combination of Sustaine with a wide range of active ingredients from third parties. Sustaine microcapsules are naturally-derived, biodegradable micro-spheres produced from yeast extract, and are one of the few viable alternatives to plastic-based microencapsulation technologies which are used widely in fertilisers, encapsulated plant protection products (PPPs), seed coatings, and biocides.

Deltic Energy PLC (LON:DELT) has told investors that its recent portfolio expansion, via the UKs offshore licensing round, was “another major milestone” for the exploration company. The license awards, earlier this month, almost doubled Deltics footprint with the addition of six licences. Most of the new acreage is in the south North Sea region, where Deltic added four licences to now hold a total of ten licences. This core area for Deltic now comprises over 2,733 square kilometres of contiguous licences, spanning from the exploration close to the Breagh gas field out to the Cupertino area near the Cygnus gas field. Significantly, Deltic noted that it presently retains 100% of the project interest in these assets and as such has maximum flexibility as it seeks farm-down partnership opportunities.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) turned in a pre-tax profit of US$261,000 for the six months to June 30, 2020, with after-tax profits ringing in at US$77,000 versus losses for the corresponding period a year ago of US$1mln. The profits were due to a strong performance from the Cobre magnetite operation in the USA. The group's unrestricted cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2020, were US$533,000.

Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) said it has received notice to exercise warrants representing 5,000,000 new ordinary shares of 1p each in the company by Vincel Investment Holdings Limited. The warrants were granted on July 19, 2020. Following allotment, Vincel will be interested in 20,456,900 Symphony ordinary shares representing approximately 11.6% of the enlarged issued share capital of the company. Vincel is owned by Mrs Shruti Lohia, daughter of Mr S P Lohia, who is the chairman of Indorama Corporation, Singapore. In a statement, Michael Laurier Symphonys CEO said: "I am very pleased to see Vincel exercise these warrants as further demonstration of their confidence in Symphony and the value that our technologies can have towards helping to improve health and the environment everywhere."

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) said it has received a conversion notice from the investors in respect of a further £100,000 of the £1.5mln share subscription announced on July 9, 2020, and, accordingly, has issued to them, in aggregate, 15,684,798 new ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the capital of the company. Following the conversion, £0.9 mln remains outstanding for conversion under the share subscription.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC), the US-based owner and operator of natuRead More – Source