FTSE 100 finishes 1.5% lower as Fed warning sends out jitters, crude oil drops
- FTSE closes off 95 points at 6,016
- Evraz is top Footsie loser
- Immedia surges despite heavily discoutned share issue
4.50pm: FTSE closes in red
FTSE 100 index finished firmly lower on Thursday as stocks were under pressure on the back of a surprise rise in jobless claims in the US and continued fears over the global pandemic.
Britain's blue-chip benchmark closed down around 95 points, or 1.56%, at 6,016, with big miners making up some of the biggest laggards.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets highlighted the Fed's comments last night, which warned that the US economy could face a considerable negative impact over the medium term.
"The Fed also repeated the need for fiscal stimulus, as they feel they cant tackle the crisis alone. The absence of a coronavirus relief package is playing on traders minds even more so in light of the Feds comments. It seems a bit strange that traders are all of a sudden worked up about the Feds bearish outlook, when it has been known for a while now," said the analyst.
Top loser on Footsie was steel giant Evraz (LON:EVR), which shed 6.10% to stand at 324.70p. US benchmark crude fell 1.12% on the day to US$42.45 a barrel. Brent crude dropped 1.3% to US$44.81.
US and Canada 4.30pm/11.30am EST
Over on Wall Street, stocks were mixed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down around 40 points at 27,654. The broader-based S&P 500 was up a shade, 0.65, at 3,375. The tech heavy Nasdaq added over 59 points at 11,206. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX index was down around seven points at 16,570.
4.00pm: Half-hearted rally as US indices find forward gear
Entering the last half hour of trading, the Footsie made another attempt to rouse itself, spurred on by US indices, which have taken a turn for the better.
There were a few bright spots in the Footsie, with bottom-feeders nibbling around the property companies.
SEGRO PLC (LON:SGRO) – doomed forever to be occasionally but regularly referred to as “the company formerly known as Slough Estates” – did John Betjemans least favourite town proud with a 1.5% rise to 958.5p.
In the market as a whole, Immedia Group PLC (LON:IME) was the top riser, rocketing 62% to 23.5p after it conditionally raised £1.1mln through a share placing and subscription.
The issue price of 10p represents a discount of about 31.0% to the mid-market closing price of 14..5p per share at last nights close.
The agreement with a group of lenders extends Premiers maturities from May 2021 to March 2025, and sets a harmonised interest rate of 8.34% across the companys cash credit facilities.
The shares crashed 24% to 25.84p.
— HamzaTrader (@HamzaTrader) August 20, 2020
3.30pm/10.30am EST: Proactive North America headlines:
Gevo (NASDAQ:GEVO) exceeds $1.5B in long-term revenue contracts after striking deal with Trafigura Trading; stock jumps
Cabral Gold (CVE:CBR) (OTCPINK:CBGZF) set for drilling at Cuiú Cuiú project in bid to define multiple high-grade deposits
Energy Fuels Inc (TSE:EFR) reshuffles management team, promotes Scott Bakken and Dee Ann Nazarenus to vice president roles
Matinas BioPharma Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:MTNB) publishes data from Phase 1 EnACT study of MAT2203 to treat cryptococcal meningitis
Klondike Gold (CVE:KG) (OTCPINK:KDKGF) eyeing potential open-pit gold resource as it kicks off drilling again at Lone Star
CytoDyn (OTCQB:CYDY) to submit leronlimab application questions to FDA; gets nod from UK regulators to proceed with coronavirus trial
Orogen Royalties (CVE:OGN) commences trading on TSX Venture Exchange after merger of Evrim Resources and Renaissance Gold
Mawson Gold Ltd (TSE: MAW) (OTCPINK:MWSNF) kicks off diamond drilling at the Sunday Creek gold project in Victoria goldfields in Australia
2.45pm: Wall Street opens in the red
The main Wall Street indices have opened in negative territory on Thursday after the US weekly initial jobless claims figure moved back above 1mln, higher than expected, while the Philadelphia manufacturing reading pointed to a possible slowdown.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Down Jones Industrial Average was down 0.44% at 27,571, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.48% to 3,358 and the Nasdaq fell 0.34% to 11,108.
However, one of the early winners in the US session was computer chip maker Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC), which rose 2.2% to US$49.41 after unveiling plans for a US$10bn accelerated share buy-back.
Back in London, the FTSE 100 was down 97 points at 6,014 at 2.45pm.
1.45pm: ECB minutes create few waves
If the markets were perturbed by the minutes from the most recent meeting of policy makers at the US central bank, the European equivalent prompted indifference.
Not a huge amount to take away from the ECB minutes, with the central bank acknowledging the dependence of markets on the continuation of policy support while noting that the markets aren't fully backed by the data,” was the verdict from OANDAs Craig Erlam.
“They also stressed that the PEPP [pandemic emergency purchase programme] programme, while currently envisaged to be used in full, was a ceiling rather than a target and that it must remain flexible. None of this is a game-changer, obviously, and the tight range in EURUSD in the ten minutes after the release perfectly highlights this,” Erlam noted.
Carsten Brzeski at ING reckons that “at least in the current crisis” the European Central bank has no exclusive insights and is looking at the same developments “like the rest of us”.
“The conclusion from looking at the available data is and was that the eurozone economy will see a sharp initial rebound, while the shape of the subsequent recovery is anything but clear,” he continued.
The word “uncertainty” appeared 20 times in the minutes, Brzeski noted. He also speculated that “opponents to quantitative easing have not given up their resistance, yet.”
Across the pond, first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the US rose last week by 135,000 from the previous week to 1.1mln.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims
Initial claims were 1,106,000 for the week ending 8/15 (+135,000).
Insured unemployment was 14,844,000 for the week ending 8/8 (-636,000).https://t.co/ys7Eg5LKAW
— US Labor Department (@USDOL) August 20, 2020
Economist had expected the number to keep on falling, as it had done in the previous week, and had pencilled in a figure of 923,000.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 88 points (1.4%) at 6,025.
12.15pm: Aside from tech stocks, US equities look set to join the retreat
After yesterdays reverses, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 are expected to add to their losses but the NASDAQ Composite is on the comeback trail.
Spread betting quotes indicate that the Dow, which shed 85 points yesterday to close at 27,693, will open around 48 points lower at 27,645 while the S&P 500 is tipped to shed 4 points at 3,371.
The NASDAQ Composite, fuelled by continued tech-mania, is seen rising 186 points to 11,332.
Things have got so frothy in techland, Airbnb has revived plans to float, despite evidence of a second wave of coronavirus cases across the globe.
Apple, the iPhone maker, became the USs first US$2,000bn company – thats market capitalisation, not taxes paid (obviously) – this week, which partly explains the NASDAQs continued strength.
“Apples $1trn rally in just 24 months is truly remarkable. Apple, like many tech stocks, has been largely insulated from the Covid-19 economic downturn – despite having to close stores because of the pandemic,” said Richard Hunter, the head of markets at interactive investor.
“The burning question now for investors is how high can Apple go?” Hunter asked.
“ A deep recession could spoil Apples bull run by knocking demand for its premium products like iPhones, iPads and MacBooks; however, Apple has a few strings to its bow and its services arm, which includes Apple Music and Apple TV, is likely to continue to be a revenue driver for the business regardless of whether the overall economy is growing or not,” Hunter added.
“In addition, the US-China trade conflict remains a threat. Further escalation in the conflict could leave Apple, who are heavily reliant on Chinese manufacturing for products such smartphones, exposed.”
Aside from the continued appetite for all things tech stock-related, the focus stateside is likely to be the minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve policy-setting committee.
“The Feds calm and measured stance in its most recent meeting was perhaps not enough for stock markets, which have certainly grown used to a rhythm of central bank actions, but the disappointment should not last long,” predicted Chris Beauchamp, the chief market analyst at IG.
“The minutes should not be viewed in any hawkish light, but instead seen as a necessary pause for the central bank to reassess the outlook. Markets have been able to weather much bigger problems than a set of central bank minutes, with no indication thus far that the overnight weakness is about to turn into something more substantial,” he added.
Milan Cutkovic, a market analyst at AxiCorp, was a bit less “glass half full”.
“Talks between Democrats and Republicans over another massive corona aid package have stalled, and no imminent solution is in sight,” Cutkovic noted.
“The comments from the Fed brought markets under pressure, as a V-shaped economic recovery is already priced in.
“The reaction also shows that investors remain fairly edgy, despite – or perhaps because – of the impressive recovery rally. After several weeks of a smooth ride for stock markets, market participants should buckle up for another rollercoaster ride,” he added.
“At the same time, the United States is increasing the pressure on Hong Kong by terminating three bilateral agreements. It will only be a matter of time before Beijing will see itself forced to take countermeasures, which could set in motion a dangerous downward spiral.
“With the current uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the timing for a return of the trade war between the two superpowers could hardly be any worse,” Cutkovic suggested.
Back in Blighty, the late morning rally has run out of steam as the pound strengthens further against the dollar and the FTSE 100 is down 78 points (1.3%) at 6,034.
Sterling is up by a tad more than a third of a cent against the US dollar at US$1.3135.
11.00am: Rally underway despite downbeat results from survey of economists' views on the US economy
A recovery of sorts is underway by the Footsie, with a dozen or so of the indexs constituents now in profit.
Londons index of leading shares was down 70 points (1.1%) at 6,042, 30 points above its intra-day low.
The rally has occurred despite a gloomy Reuters survey of economists that suggests the UK economy will not recover from the coronavirus-inspired collapse for at least two years.
Mind you, as the old joke has it, economists have predicted 13 out of the last nine recessions, so what do they know?
Latest #Reuters #poll on #UK #economy sees #GDP contracting 9.7% in 2020; Third-quarter growth of 15.1% quarter-on-quarter anticipated after 20.4% q/q contraction in Q2. Growth is seen at 6.7% in 2021. #BOE not expected to introduce negative interest rates https://t.co/ccL1V8ZSNJ
— Howard Archer (@HowardArcherUK) August 20, 2020
The UK economy has contracted by 9.7% this year but economists polled by Reuters (just under 70 of them – the collective noun is “a confusion of economists”) predict it will expand by 6.2% next year.
The majority of the economists surveyed by the news agency do not think the Bank of England will go down the route of negative interest rates. The Bank Rate is predicted to remain fixed at 0.1% until `at least 2023; on the scale of percentage probabilities of negative interest rates, the median forecast was 22.5% in the Reuters poll.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7woiJ39IhUY]
10.00am: Fed up to the back teeth
The US central bank has certainly put the “Fed” into “fed up” this morning, with blue-chips down virtually across the board.
The FTSE 100 was down 92 points (1.5%) at 6,020, with fund managers M&G PLC (LON:MNG) and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA) leading the retreat, as global markets take a hit from bearish comments in the latest minutes released by the Federal Reserve.
M&G is down 6.9% at 167.5p and Standard Life is off 5.3% at 249.4p.
“The Fed meeting minutes from Wednesday night sort of did a number on the markets, both warning that the pandemic would weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term as well as posing risks to the outlook over the medium term, while also stating that the FOMC felt new stimulus measures were not warranted in the current environment,” noted Connor Campbell at Spreadex.
“With hopes dashed of a Fed intervention in the short term, the latest COVID-19 headlines carried an extra sting. Germany has just posted its highest number of new cases since April, Croatia may be the next country to be removed from the UKs travel corridor, Australias Qantas airline has warned travel to the US is likely not possible until there is a vaccine, and South Korea is in danger of seeing a return to a nationwide outbreak after recording more than 1500 cases in the last week,” he added.
There has been little news flow from the big beasts to distract attention away from the Feds slap around the markets cheeks. Irish building materials seller CRH PLC (LON:CRH) is down 1.1% at 2,973p after its interims but the shares are outperforming the market so the numbers probably werent that bad and it did pay out a dividend, albeit declared in US currency (22 cents).
The builders merchant said it expects its third-quarter underlying earnings will be in line with expectations but as for the fourth quarter, its a case of “your guess is as good as mine”.
8.35am: Weak start
The FTSE 100 index opened Thursday firmly in negative territory amid worries over the parlous economic state of the US and the seeming inability of senior politicians there to agree an additional stimulus package.
The index of UK blue-chip shares opened 70 points lower at 6,042.37.
Very little clarity was provided by the Federal Reserves rate-setting committee's last meeting, minutes from which published last night left traders bemused and unsettled.
“All we got were two paragraphs that basically said they were still discussing things,” said Marshall Gittler, at forex group BDSwiss. “As for when we might get some answers, its still unclear.”
On the market, the mornings big blue-chip casualty was Chilean miner Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), which saw its profits hit hard by a weak copper price. The fact that the group maintained the dividend appeared to carry little weight with the market as the shares were marked down 6%.
Off by the same quantum was Evraz (LON:EVR), as shares in the Russia-focused iron specialist traded without entitlement to a chunky pay-out.
On the up was InterContinental Hotel Group (LON:IHG), with bargain-hunters driving the stock 2.5% higher.
On the FTSE 250 retailers were in demand. AO World (LON:AO.) spiked 7% higher as the white goods specialist gave a reasonably upbeat assessment of prospects in its trading update.
Frasers Group (LON:FRAS), the high street chain formerly known as Sports Direct, rose 2.4% after it said it would be investing more in its online activities.
Among the tiddlers, 7Digital (LON:7DIG) shot up 24% after it said it had landed a music contract with an unnamed global technology company.
Proactive news headlines:
Capital Limited, the mining services company, has said its business continued to perform strongly in the first half of 2020 despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The companys business is focused on African markets and gold mining in particular so the rocketing price of gold has been a boon for the company. Strong demand for drilling services is anticipated once the West African wet season has passed. Revenue in the first half of the year rose to US$65.09mln from US$54.83mln the year before. Profit before tax soared to US$19.13mln from US$7.59mln in the first half of 2019, thanks largely to a US$9.98mln “fair value” gain on investments.
SDX Energy PLC (LON:SDX) chief executive Mark Reid has described the first half of 2020 as strong for the company, despite the challenges during the period. “Production hit record levels and we made some important discoveries in both Egypt and Morocco, which have added significant value to the company's portfolio, with the Sobhi discovery, in which we have a 100% working interest, expected to be brought on stream in Q1 2021,” Reid said in the groups interim financial results statement. In terms of the financial results, the Egypt and Morocco-focused oil and gas firm confirmed 97% production growth versus the same period in the preceding year – with entitlement production amounting to 6,980 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). Production growth was driven by output from the South Disouq field, which continued to perform ahead of expectations. It contributed some 4,825 boepd net to SDX.
Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) has said it is planning to launch a new virtual racing website, racinggames.gg, which will allow motorsport fans to read news, share opinions, and follow global virtual racing esports and competitive gaming events. The esports group said the site, which is expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2020, will leverage its existing market position in virtual motorsport built through relationships with F1, IndyCar, Forza and most recently Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management. The site will cover all virtual motorsports including the F1 Esports Series and all existing and future Global Racing Series virtual racing competitions. Gfinity also said the site will drive the reach of the Global Racing Series competitions and its commercial value with brands, broadcasters and teams.
Inspiration Healthcare Group PLC (LON:IHC) has said it remains optimistic on prospects for “this financial year and beyond” as it updated on progress fulfilling an NHS ventilator contract. The group said it had delivered a further £1mln of equipment, taking the running total to £3mln. In March it won new business worth £5mln from the UK health service. "We have continued to work tirelessly with our partners to get the ventilators into the UK and delivered to the NHS,” Inspiration chief executive Neil Campbell said in the statement. Investors were told the integration of S.L.E., bought for £18mln in June, was going to plan and the business has delivered a further £500,000-worth of ventilators.
Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) (CVE:FO) has told investors that it is presently expected, subject to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions, that fracture stimulation of Kyalla 117 well will start in the coming weeks. The company noted that the Kyalla 117, at the Beetaloo project in Australias Northern Territory, was drilled successfully in February – confirming good reservoir continuity, conductive natural fractures and continuous gas shows – before operations were suspended in March due to the pandemic. It is now anticipated that the fracking programme for Kyalla 117 will happen in the third and fourth quarters, followed by a production test starting later in the fourth quarter. Results of the test are likely to come in the first quarter of 2021, Falcon added.
Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN) said it has begun active management of cryptocurrencies its holds in treasury, while also extending its initial staking activities. The blockchain and crypto venture group said as of August 19, 2020, the value of its fully vested crypto and token treasury is US$575,134 and predominantly denominated in “highly liquid” cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Coinsilium also said in addition to its treasury position there are a further US$104,559 of RIF tokens that it will vest monthly over the next 27 months.
Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) and its partners in the West Newton discovery are advancing efforts to select new well locations, as they seek to start planning for the next phases of the Yorkshire oil project. Project operator Rathlin Energy has submitted screening requests to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for two new potential hydrocarbon well sites, UJO noted in a statement. Screening the possible well sites, for the West Newton C and West Newton D wells, respectively, is the first step in the planning process to further explore and appraise the West Newton hydrocarbon field.