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  • FTSE 100 closes higher
  • BT top riser on bid chatter
  • Cineworld surges as Norges Bank gets the trading bug

5pm: FTSE closes firmly higher

FTSE 100 index raced Monday to a positive close, joining global indices in heading higher.

Britain's index of leading shares closed up over 102 points, or 1.71% at 6,104.

Midcap FTSE 250 also went higher, adding over 107 points to close at 17,685.

"The optimism is being driven by a report that President Trump is looking to fast-track the approval of a drug that has the potential to be a vaccine for Covid-19," noted analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets.

"AstraZeneca and Oxford University are working on the drug in question, and Mr Trump is apparently keen to get the regulatory approval sped up. The move could come in October, one month ahead of the US presidential election."

US and Canada 4.20pm/11.20am EST

Wall Street stocks were a sea of green in early deals. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained over 280 points at 28,210. The S&P 500 added over 22 at 3,410. The tech heavy Nasdaq exchange was up over 33 at 11,345. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX index advanced nearly 88 points at 16,605.

4.00pm: Off the top but still a bright day for the Footsie

It has been a good day for the Footsie although it is no longer boasting a triple-digit gain.

The index of heavyweight shares was up 97 points (1.6%) at 6,099, with risers outnumbering fallers among Footstie constituents by about five-to-one.

BT PLC (LON:BT.A) was the top riser, climbing 5.9% to 107.85p after reports that private equity is sizing up a possible bid for the debt-ridden dinosaur with the massive hole in its pension plan bucket.

The general practice of private equity groups is to load the companies up with debt and use supposed guaranteed cash flow to service the debt, while syphoning money out of the business.

Some sceptics might argue that generations of management since the company was nationalised have tried that already at BT, but management at BT are taking the threat (to their jobs) seriously, according to reports, with the celebrate “vampire squid” Goldman Sachs being retained to shore up the telecoms companys bid defences.

Just one more waffer thin poison pill, Mr Creosote?

For America's top growth stocks click here


The mid-cap FTSE 250 has also had a good day, albeit one not as sparkling as its bigger brother. The mid-cap index was up 89 points (0.5%) at 17,659, with Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE) leading the way.

The cinemas operator, like BT geared up to the back-teeth but unlike BT with a main product that has been hit like a thunderclap from the mighty Thor by the coronavirus pandemic, was up 7.2% to 54.84p after Norges Bank banged out a holdings statement followed by two quick sequels.

The first announcement at 2.09pm revealed it had lowered its stake (once financial instruments such as certificates for deposit – CFDs – or options are taken into account) in Cineworld to 4.97% from 5.14% on August 11.

The second announcement (at 2.13pm) disclosed it had lowered the stake to 4.87% while increasing its stake of “real” shares (as opposed to CFDs) from 0.39% to to 1.29% on August 20.

A minute later, it announced that n August 21 it had kept its stake at 4.87% but reduced the “real shares” element to 0.6%.

Gripping stuff. I cant wait for Holding(s) in Company IV.

3.30pm/10.30am EST: Proactive North America headlines:

Thoughtful Brands Inc (CSE:TBI) (FWB:1WZ1:GR) (OTCQB:PEMTF says its subsidiary Ecommerce Tech has acquired a key e-Commerce software platform

Nomad Royalty Company (TSE:NSR) (OTCQX:NSRXF) to buy Coral Gold Resources for US$45.8M

AgraFlora Organics International Inc (CSE:AGRA) (OCTMKTS:AGFAF) expects first harvest at its Delta greenhouse in fourth quarter 2020

GlobeX Data Ltd (OTCQB:SWISF) (CSE:SWIS) says SekurSafe solution selected by RE/MAX marketplace for secure email and data management

Biocept Inc (NASDAQ:BIOC) appoints Dr Michael Dugan as chief medical officer and medical director

Pacific Empire Minerals Corp (CVE:PEMC) (OTCQB:PEMSF) mobilizes geophysical crew to Jean Marie project

Benchmark Metals (CVE:BNCH) says increased financing allows it to lift drill program to 100,000 metres and begin planning feasibility study

Killi Ltd (CVE:MYID) (OTCMKTS:MYIDF) says CEO featured in 'Dark Reading' magazine discussing using data for good to control coronavirus pandemic

Humanigen Inc (OTCPINK:HGEN) taps drug development expert Edward Jordan for chief commercial officer role ahead of lenzilumab launch

Medexus Inc (CVE:MDP) (OTCQX:PDDPF) says its joint-disease drug added to public drug plan in Quebec and will enjoy insurance coverage

2.45pm: Wall Street pushes higher

For America's top growth stocks click here


As expected, the main US indices kicked off Mondays session in the green amid optimism over a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.61% at 28,101 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.76% to 3,423 and the Nasdaq rose 1.18% to 11,445.

The bullish sentiment has put the Dow around 5% off its all-time high reached in February, while the other two indices both hit intraday highs at the open. Monday is also the day of record for Apple Incs (NASDAQ:AAPL) four-to-one stock split.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was up 91 points at 6,093.

2.00pm: The Footsie keeps its head above 6,100

Londons leading shares moved into consolidation mode over the lunchtime trading session, with the Footsie keeping its head above the 6,100 level.

The index of leading shares was up 110 points (1.8%) at 6,112, with gaisn virtually across the board, except for hospitality related stocks, such as hotels groups Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB) and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) and property plays, such as Land Securities PLC (LON:LAND) and British Land PLC (LON:BLND).

12.25pm: US indices to open higher

US indices are expected to add to Fridays gains this afternoon.

The Dow Jones industrial average is tipped to open at around 28,176, up 246 points.

The S&P 500 is expected to start at 3,424, up 27 points while the NASDAQ Composite is seen starting at 11,670, up 358 points.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) very much in the news after President Trumps latest blast at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which he effectively accused of allowing people to die as part of a bizarre campaign to sabotage his election campaign, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported that the USA reported 34,600 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, down 17.8% on the 42,000 new cases reported a week earlier.

#CoronaVirus #Covid19#Trump authorizes plasma treatment amid attacks on FDA. After expressing frustration at the slow pace of approval for coronavirus treatments, and causing controversy by publicly linking the Food and Drug Administration to the “deep state” conspiracy ..

— Trading Range EURUSD (@TraderJJS) August 24, 2020

“Over the past week, confirmed new cases have fallen by 16%. The seven-day average number of new cases is falling steadily and now stands at 42.6K, down 37% from the July 22 peak, 67.3K,” observed Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Some of the fall in confirmed cases, however, reflects the drop in testing since its mid-July peak. The seven-day moving average number of tests has fallen by some 18% from the peak, and the proportion of positive tests appears to be stuck at just over 6%.

“Still, the reported drop in new cases is accompanied by a steady downward trend in hospitalisations, and deaths are nudging down slowly too. Hospitalisations in Arizona, at the leading edge of the second wave in the South, are down by 68% from their mid-July peak,” Shepherdson added.

In contrast, UK cases have risen steadily in recent weeks, but the national data appear to have flattened over the past week, Shepherdson noted.

“This might not last, given substantial outbreaks in some cities and the impending re-opening of schools, later than in many continental European countries,” he remarked.

Traders in the US are waiting for the Republican partys Trumpian lovefest to start this week as well as the annual meeting – to be held virtually this year – of central bankers (not [necessarily] rhyming slang) in Jackson Hole.

“With the recent FOMC [Federal Reserves policy-making committee] minutes failing to ignite any spark around new stimulus measures or extraordinary measures coming into play, there is a feeling we could see Powell [the Feds president] lay out a strategy of average inflation targeting, which could allow for above 2% inflation to account for the below target levels we are currently seeing. Such a move to allow inflation to run above target would likely extend the amount of time the Fed could retain an ultra-easy monetary policy stance without being hamstrung by rising inflation,” suggested Joshua Mahony at IG Group.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 114 points (1.9%) at 6,116.

11.15am: Resource stocks to the fore as Footsie racks up a triple-digit gain

Although President Trumps record on recommending coronavirus treatments is patchy at best, his promotion of a potential treatment of COVID-19 using blood plasma has sparked markets.

Yesterday, Trump announced his administration has granted emergency use authorisation for treatment using blood plasma.

Some medical authorities have suggested there is not yet enough data to support the use of the treatment.

#PSA: #COVID19

1. @POTUS promoted #Hydroxychloroquine: Ineffective
2. Trump asked for bleach & light: harmful & insane
3. Trump pressured @FDA to approve convalescent plasma that:

a) patients could already get
b) no rigorous study
c) ⬇mortality from 12% to 8.7% (not 35%!) pic.twitter.com/Tu7xcEE8ux

— Ethics & Psychology #BlackLivesMatter (@Dr_Gavazzi) August 24, 2020

Be that as it may, equity investors have been hitting the buy button this morning, with resource stocks, in particular, in demand as commodity prices head higher.

Anglo American PLC (LON:AAL), up 3.6% at 1,925.4p, led the mining sector higher.

Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO) rose 2.4% to 4,799.5p despite the company holding its hand up and admitting to falling short of its obligations in the destruction of the Juukan rockshelters in May 2020 in Australia.

READ Rio Tinto executives lose bonuses for destruction of ancient aboriginal site


In the oil sector, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB), up 2.9% at 1,106.2p, is marginally outperforming BP PLC (LON:BP.), which is up 2.7% at 280.7p, as the price of Brent crude climbs 29 cents (0.65%) to US$44.65 on futures markets.

The FTSE 100 was up 105 points (1.7%) at 6,106.

10.00am: BT leads the market higher as it braces for a bid

Having waited the whole weekend to pile into equities following Wall Streets strong showing on Friday, traders did not hang about on Monday.

The FTSE 100 was up 97 points (1.6%) at 6,099, led by BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A), which is up 5.7% at 107.55p, on bid speculation.

“At a valuation of £10bn, the group has become a definite target and whilst BT has a lot of legacy baggage – notably £18bn in net debt and a major pension deficit – its also got the Openreach crown jewel, which would be worth considerably more on its own than the group is valued today,” said Neil Wilson of markets.com.

(He actually wrote Openreach would be worse considerably more on its own but I think we get his drift …)

“Of course, there is no formal offer, but shares could jump further if one emerges. Deutsche Telekom, which owns 12% in BT, is seen as a likely candidate. The question is whether there could be more bombed out UK-listed stocks that could be taken out by a timely takeover…perennial rumour-favourite ITV, for instance?” Wilson added,

The second best blue-chip performer is Bunzl PLC (LON:BNZL) after its half-year report.

Shares in the distribution group were up 3.4% at 2,486p after it reported strong first-half numbers helped by demand for coronavirus (COVID-19) related products and grocery items.

Talking of which, the US Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorisation for the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma on Sunday, which has boosted sentiment in global markets.

I knew it.

Convalescent plasma been used in 90,000 ppl. Data's not been good, so FDA pulled back. Four days ago, FOX started harping that the FDA was blocking a miracle treatment. Yesterday, Trump repeated Fox. Today, he's going to hype what Fox hyped. https://t.co/qixUnsvtwD

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) August 23, 2020

8.30am: Monday boost for Footsie

The FTSE 100 got off to a stronger-than-anticipated start to proceedings on Monday morning with traders inclined to ignore the negatives – coronavirus, economic worries and the Sino-American stand-off – to focus on clawing back some of the ground lost last week.

The index of UK blue-chips opened 71 points to the good at 6,072.65.

With Americas main markets at or near record highs, there is a suspicion professional investors may look for value plays here in Europe.

But Michael Hewson, of CMC Markets, provided these words of caution: “While this is a compelling narrative, it also underplays the political risks around a region where fiscal responses have been patchy at best,” he explained.

“For all the talk and optimism of the €750bn European pandemic recovery fund, the delivery of this extra money still remains months away, which leaves the European Central Bank as the only game in town.”

The rising tide in London followed a similarly positive open to the week in Asia, where a revitalised Hang Seng led the way.

Here at home, BT (LON:BT.A) was the big feature amid weekend reports it has called in Goldman Sachs to strengthen the companys bid defence following a protracted sell-off of the shares. The stock opened 7.6% higher.

Distribution specialist Bunzl (LON:BNZL) rose 2.3% after it resumed dividend payments following a strong jump in profits. This gave a nudge to packaging firm DS Smith (LON:SMDS), up 2.2%.

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) was also among the leaders with a 2.1% gain after Donald Trump suggested he was willing to fast-track a vaccine being developed by it and Oxford University.

Proactive news headlines:

Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (LON:TILS) (NASDAQ:TLSA) has received a US patent for its TZLS-501 antibody technology being developed to treat the life-threatening effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Protection has been granted around the “methods and use” of anti-IL 6 and IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibodies for both protective (prophylactic) and therapeutic use. The grant of this additional patent on TZLS-501 is of “particular significance” for the potential treatment of COVID-19 and other pulmonary diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, the company said. In the case of COVID, the treatment offers the promise of providing immediate respite if the drug is inhaled directly using a handheld nebuliser.

Blackbird Plc (LON:BIRD) revealed that its cloud video editing platform was selected by production company Live X for use at the US Democratic National Convention, which was held from Monday to Thursday last week. The AIM-listed firm said Live X had chosen its platform to rapidly produce video content in the cloud during the convention, with the Live X media production team using Blackbirds technology to “remotely and safely to edit and enrich live, engaging content from the convention and publish it ultra-fast to social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram”. Blackbird also said it had been used to make content rapidly available to media partners for re-purposing to multiple platforms and channels.

IXICO PLC (LON:IXI), the data analytics company focused on neuroscience, has raised earnings expectations for the current fiscal year. The company is benefiting from continued operational leverage, generated by revenue growth and investments made to drive scale and efficiency, it said in a trading update. The board expects revenues for the year to the end of September 2020, to be in line with, or slightly ahead of, current market expectations, representing growth of more than 20% compared to the prior year. Underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be materially ahead of current market expectations.

Clipper Logistics PLC (LON:CLG) said it expects results for its current year will “comfortably exceed market expectations” after reporting “exceptionally high demand” for its e-fulfilment and returns management services. In an outlook statement accommodating its results for the year ended April 30, 2020, the company said it had experienced a “very positive start” to its current financial year, with an annualised revenues of its probability-weighted pipeline standing at over £50mln, a “significant increase” on the same period last year. The upbeat outlook accompanied a strong set of full-year results, with Clipper reporting that revenues reached a record level of £500.7mln, up 8.8% year-on-year, while earnings (EBIT) climbed 19.1% to £24.1mln.

Powerhouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) told investors that Peel L&P it has completed on-schedule the engineering definition work for the DMG plant at Protos Energy Park, in Cheshire. The work allows contractors to now price their contracts for constructing the plant and the associated on-site buildings, and it has also provided the project with further technical and commercial validation. The milestone represents a significant step towards plant construction commencing in the fourth quarter and will facilitate progress to finalising project financing.

Tissue Regenix Group PLC (LON:TRX), the regenerative medical devices company, has entered into a UK distribution agreement for its OrthoPure XT knee ligament product. The distribution agreement, which comes with its first UK order for OrthoPure XT, is with a speciality supplier of orthopaedic and biologic products. The distributor was not identified but Tissue Regenixs interim chief executive officer (CEO), Gareth Jones described the party as “an ideal partner to support the commercialisation of OrthoPure XT in the UK”.

AEX Gold (LON:AEXG) has mobilized its workforce in Greenland, with the site fully staffed since August 15, 2020. The company plans extensive exploration work in Greenland ahead of planned underground development work, which is scheduled for 2021. The current programme includes 3,000 metres of surface drilling at the Nalunaq project, including infill drilling, surface geological mapping, and underground mapping and channel sampling. In addition, AEX will commence pre-development activities at Nalunaq ahead of camp construction and underground development activities, which will commence in 2021.

Remote Monitored Systems PLC (LON:RMS) said it has agreed to acquire Pharm2Farm Limited, a firm developing crop nutrition products and a nanotechnology-enabled anti-viral face mask. In an announcement on Friday afternoon, AIM-listed Remote Monitored Systems said it will acquire the group through the issue of 600mln new shares, equating to around £2.37mln based on its closing price last Thursday of 0.375p. Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH), which owns around 51.7% of Pharm2Farm, will receive 310.3mln shares in the transaction, while the firms founder Gareth Cave, who owns the remaining shares, will receive 289.6mln.

Base Resources Ltd (LON:BSE) booked revenue of US$208mln during the year ended June 30, 2020, and has declared a maiden dividend of A$0.035per share. The company said its mineral sands mining operation at Kwale in Kenya maintained operational continuity during the coronavirus crisis and achieved the upper end of production guidance. Ongoing firm demand supported price improvement for ilmenite and rutile, and helped deliver overall net profits after tax of US$39.6mln. The company also continued working on its Toliara development project in Madagascar.

Sunrise Resources PLC (LON:SRES) has agreed to raise up to £1mln of new equity. The companys broker Peterhouse Capital has arranged a £750,000 placing – with 267.8mln shares being sold at 0.28p – and a further broker offer option could see an additional £250,000 raised at the same placing price. Proceeds are earmarked for the continuing development of the CS Pozzolan-Perlite Project in Nevada, along with initial drill work across the companys gold and silver projects.

Jubilee Metals Group PLC (LON:JLP) has executed a deal that sees the company become operator of a project to recommission and restart a chrome beneficiation plant in South Africa. The plant is located adjacent to Jubilees Inyoni tailings operations and the deal is a processing agreement which is backed by a guaranteed supply of a minimum of 40,000 tonnes per month, which could rise to 80,000 tonnes per month. The resultant PGM containing tails will be processed by Jubilee at the Inyoni PGM recovery plant.

Verona Pharma PLC (LON:VRP, NASDAQ:VRNA) has said it is to present to a leading industry conference data from a phase IIb trial of its drug candidate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Delegates at the virtual European Respiratory Society International Congress will be provided subgroup analysis from Veronas phase IIb trials of nebulised ensifentrine. The data was first reported in January and March this year. It demonstrated the drug improves lung function in moderate to severe COPD patients regardless of smoking status or history of chronic bronchitis over four weeks.

Woodbois Ltd (LON:WBI), the African-focused forestry and timber trading company, has ranked third in the Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT) ESG policy transparency assessments for the worldwide timber and pulp industries. SPOTT, the online platform created by the Zoological Society of London, annually assesses multiple worldwide timber and pulp producers and traders on the public disclosure of their policies, operations and commitments to Environmental, Social and Governance best practice. Woodbois was recognised as the highest-ranked public company.

Ashley House PLC (LON:ASH), which on July 30 advised that a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) was being proposed and a creditors' meeting followed by a members' meeting arranged to vote on it, has said that due to ongoing discussions around proposed amendments to the proposals, the meetings have again been adjourned and are now rescheduled for Wednesday August 26 at 10.30am and 12.00pm respectively. The company said it will update the market once the meetings have been concluded.

Bahamas Petroleum Company PLC (LON:BPC), the Caribbean and Atlantic margin focused oil and gas company, with exploration, production, appraisal and development assets across the region has announced that further to the completion of the recent merger with Columbus Energy Resources Leo Koot has been appointed to the groups board as a non-executive director, with immediate effect. Koot has over 31 years' experience in the Energy sector and has a Master's in Petroleum Engineering and a business accreditation from Harvard Business School. During his extensive career, he has run oil and energy businesses as well as been an active board member, including his current role as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director with Read More – Source