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  • FTSE 100 index closes ahead
  • Redundancies announced by Gatwick Airport
  • Wall Street mixed but S&P 500 and Nasdaq surge

5pm: Footsie closes eight points up

FTSE 100 index closed a tad higher mid-week but the FTSE 250 surged as the firmer pound put the lid on some gains.

The UK benchmark of blue-chip shares closed up around eight points, 0.14%, at 6,045. The FTSE 250 added over 175, or 1%, at 17,753.

The pound was up 0.29% against the dollar at US$1.3189.

David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets, noted that internationally exposed stocks like British American Tobacco, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, and AstraZeneca were among the biggest Footsie fallers as they earn a large portion of their total revenue from outside the UK.

Drinks titan Diageo (LON:DGE) plunged 2% to close at 2,548p. In New York, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were hitting new records as US durable goods orders hit their highest level since February last month, marking the third consecutive monthly rise.

US and Canada 4.30pm/11.30am EST

Wall Street shares were mixed in early deals in New York but the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indexes were flying. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down over 63 points at 28,185. The broader-based S&P 500 added around 13 points at 3,457. The tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange soared over 102 points at 11,568. Up in Toronto, the TSX advanced over 71 points at 16,688.

3:40pm/10.40am EST: Proactive North America headlines:

Newgioco (NASDAQ:NWGI) completes $10 million financing, wipes out debt and advances towards US expansion

Mineworx Technologies (CVE:MWX) closes previously announced financings raising gross proceeds of $1,000,500

Pacific Empire Minerals (CVE:PEMC) (OTCQB:PEMSF) set to option Pinnacle copper-gold project in British Columbia

Phunware (NASDAQ:PHUN) boosts financial guidance for its Application Transactions business

Esports Entertainment Inc (NASDAQ:GMBL) inks deal to buy UK-based Esports Gaming League

DRDGold (NYSE:DRD) (JSE:DRD) expecting near sevenfold increase in earnings per share for its fiscal year

FansUnite Entertainment (CSE:FANS) strengthens its board of directors with the addition of online gaming pioneer James Keane

CytoDyn Inc (OTCQB:CYDY) reaches patient quota for Phase 3 leronlimab coronavirus trial; analysis expected in four weeks

China Xiangtai Food (NASDAQ:PLIN) says subsidiary completed US$5 million in sales of soybean meal in one week

Thoughtful Brands Inc (CSE:TBI) (FWB:1WZ1:GR) (OTCQB:PEMTF) hails strong sales performance of its Nature's Exclusive brand in year to date

3.30pm: Gatwick Airport to cut 600 jobs

FTSE 100 remained firmly in the red ahead of close, down 10 points to 6,026.

Gatwick Airport was the latest UK name to announce a job cut due to dire passenger numbers.

Around 600 staff or 24% of the workforce will be let go, as the company enters into a formal consultation process with employees.

The usually busy August saw passenger numbers plunging over 80% compared to the same period last year, while the airport is only working from its North Terminal.

It is operating at 20% of its capacity and 75% staff are still on furlough.

“If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry then todays news we have shared with our staff, regarding the proposed job losses, is a stark reminder,” said chief executive Stewart Wingate.

“We are in ongoing talks with Government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time, alongside mechanisms which will give our passengers greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad.”

2.43pm: Mixed open for Wall Street

Despite expectations of a lower start, the main Wall Street indices painted more of a mixed picture on Wednesday morning.

In the opening minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was the weak link, down 0.111% at 28,217, while the S&P 500 was up 0.12% at 3,447 and the Nasdaq rose 0.55% to 11,529.

Some traders still seem to be holding off ahead of Powells speech on Thursday, which Markets.coms Neil Wilson said was likely to see the Fed chair “tee up a new monetary policy framework based around average inflation targeting (AIT)”.

“We should note that this is set to be the culmination of a nearly two-year process to review the strategies, tools, and communication practices it uses to pursue its congressionally assigned mandate of maximum employment and price stability. At its July meeting the FOMC indicated it was near to finishing after Covid-related delays. Tomorrow we should hear Powell announce some key conclusions from the review. AIT is what the market chatter is all about – yield curve control was largely dismissed at the last FOMC meeting, so I would not anticipate Powell to signal that the FOMC has suddenly come round to the idea”, he said.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was back in negative territory, shedding 6 points to 6,031 shortly before 2.45pm.

1.55pm: Oil prices ease after Gulf of Mexico tropical storms

The Footsie was back in the green in the early afternoon, adding 2 points to 6,039.

Oil prices have eased after reaching five-month highs earlier this week after storms in the Gulf of Mexico froze production.

Over 1.5mln barrels per day were taken offline in anticipation of the storms, pushing prices up.

As of Wednesday, 84% of the current oil production in the gulf had been shut-in, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

“Whether they will be sustained may depend on the level of damage that's sustained and how long it will take the facilities to get back up and running again,” said Craig Erlam at OANDA.

“We haven't seen as big a surge in oil prices as we may have otherwise seen but this isn't exactly an undersupplied market.”

12.15pm: Expected lukewarm open on Wall Street

The Footsie was little changed before lunch, down 17 points to 6,019.

Wall Street stocks are not expected to fare much better as traders keep their powder dry ahead of the Jackson Hole Symposium starting on Thursday.

Nonetheless, the Dow and NASDAQ have stunned with their August rallies, helped by an easing of US-China tensions and a lower number of new coronavirus cases.

“The outperformance of US markets is also no doubt being helped by optimism ahead of Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powells speech later this week, which is likely to reinforce the US central banks commitment to do whatever it takes to support the US economy, at this very challenging time,” said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

“US economic data continues to paint a mixed picture of the US economy, with consumer confidence sliding back sharply in August to its lowest level in six years, over concerns about the state of the US economy, the outlook for jobs against a backdrop of partisan politicians, and the recent lapsing of the US$600 a week unemployment enhancement, which has restricted the ability of US consumers to spend any more than they have to, to get by. “

Julys durable goods orders, coming out today, could reinforce the pattern of cautious spending with an expected rise of 2%, excluding transportation, down from 3.3% in June.

11.30am: Wetherspoon running out of tomato ketchup

The Footsie turned red before lunch, dipping 18 points to 6,018.

Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon PLC (LON:JDW) is facing a shortage of tomato ketchup on its shelves, with brown sauce and mustard also running low.

The publican has been in high demand thanks to the Treasurys Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme ending today.

But supply was lower than usual due to flooding at Heinzs factory in Telford after storms, although the sauce producer is working to restore normal activities.

“I went to get some from the condiments table and there was none left,” a customer at The Coinage Hall in Helston, Cornwall, told The Sun.

“I felt robbed. Our fish and chips were ruined.”

The market was seemingly less upset, with shares in the FTSE 250-listed chain adding 1% to 959.5p on Thursday morning.

10.30am: Carnival rises despite cancelling yet more cruises

The Footsie stayed flat at 6,037 in late morning as sterling was also little moved.

“The FTSE 100 has endured a tough 24 hours – having hit a high yesterday morning near 6,180, this morning the blue-chip index is testing the 6,000 support,” said Neil Wilson at Markets.com.

“Last weeks low at 5,948 is yet to be tested again, however, and bulls will be hopeful that a base is forming and the near-term downtrend off the June highs is ending. If the dollar weakens further and sterling rallies, this support level could go.”

Meanwhile, Carnival PLC (LON:CCL) rose 2% to 999.6p despite announcing yet more cruise cancellations last night.

Its Princess line has scrapped world cruises on the Island Princess from North America and some South America voyages on the Pacific Princess scheduled for early 2021.

This segment of the travel industry has been hit with logistical issues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with entire ships being quarantined during the pandemic.

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.

“Were 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 viruss 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 Americas 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.

On the market, the price action was muted. Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) held steady after a downgrade by Barclays Capital to underweight.

Car distributor Inchcape (LON:INCH) received a 5.3% boost from an upgrade to overweight by the influential JP Morgan Cazenove.

Signature Aviation (LON:SIG) lost altitude as it dropped 4% after being cut to neutral by the same broker.

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 & Cos 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 whats 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 & Cos 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 whats 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 countrys 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 Australias 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.

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