• FTSE 100 index dips by 17 points
  • Wall Street mixed at noon

5.20pm: Travel stocks soar, FTSE multinationals struggle

London’s leading index ended Monday down 17 points, 0.3%, to 6,333.8, while the FTSE 250 gained 75 points, 0.4%, to 19,582.4.

Traders were faced with a strengthening pound, which hampered companies that earn revenue abroad.

“The FTSE 100 is underperforming versus its continental counterparts as the firmer pound has dented the market,” CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden. “In terms of index points, the biggest fallers on the FTSE are AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, British American Tobacco, Diageo, and Unilever – all of which earn a large portion of their total revenue from overseas.”

Otherwise, markets were broadly helped by positive vaccine news.

“The FTSE 250 and eurozone equity markets have been lifted by the news that the possible Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is 70% effective,” Madden wrote. “… it can be stored at -3 degrees, so it is far more practical from a transportation and production point of view. It is believed to be far cheaper than other potential coronavirus drugs too. The continued optimism surrounding the health situation has lifted industries across the board, but aviation, hospitality and transport stocks have stood out.”

easyJet plc (LON:EZJ) was among the biggest risers, picking up 6.4% to GBP779.4.

In the US, the Dow improved 154 points, 0.5%, to 29,417.7 at midday. The Nasdaq Composite, despite a strong start, slid 21 points, 0.2%, to 11,832, and the S&P 500 dropped to nearly flat, up just 2 points, less than 0.1%, to 3,559.6.

United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) and Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) each picked up at least 2.5%, while the Nasdaq FAANG stocks lost ground.

4.10pm: The Footsie spins its wheels

With less than half an hour of trading to go, the Footsie was a couple of points down on the day at 6,349.

That’s despite an 8.1% increase to 107.45p for Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) and a 5.6% hike to 166.65p for British Airways owner International Consolidated Airline Group SA (LON:IAG).

Both stocks are getting a “vaccine fillip”, with traders betting that the lockdown restrictions will finish earlier than previously expected now that COVID-19 vaccines seem to be turning up like London buses (used to).

The prime minister Boris Johnson has released details of the government’s COVID-19 winter plan to tide us over until “the scientific cavalry arrives” (I am sure I have read that term used before in relation to the development of vaccines).

The government’s document can be downloaded here.

3.35pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Blackrock Gold Corp (CVE:BRC) (OTCMKTS:BKRRF) (FRA:AHZ) continues to hit “phenomenal grades” at its Tonopah West project in Nevada

Killi Ltd (CVE:MYID) (OTCQB:MYIDF) teams with enterprise data streaming company Narrative to deliver customer-approved personal data

Bragg Gaming Group Inc (CVE:BRAG) (OTCMKTS:BRGGF) (FRA:SL4A) posts 72% increase in 3Q revenue as its global expansion pays off

Fireweed Zinc Ltd (CVE:FWZ) (OTCMKTS:FWEDF) (FRA:20F) expands giant Macmillan Pass property in Yukon

RideShare Rental (OTCMKTS:YAYO),says it is getting into the electric vehicle space with a model that will generate revenues and profits upon its launch

NexTech AR Solutions (OTCQB:NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR) (FRA:N29) acquires event management firm Map Dynamics to expand its suite of augmented reality offerings

Ideanomics (NASDAQ:IDEX) ups stake in battery-powered electric tractors maker Solectrac through follow-on investment of an additional $1.3 million

PreveCeutical Medical Inc (CSE:PREV) (OTCQB:PRVCF) (FRA:18H) files provisional patent application in Australia seeking protection for cannabinoid formulations to prevent and treat COVID-19

Great Panther Mining Limited (TSE:GPR) (NYSEAMERICAN:GPL) (FRA:G3U) sees a 17% increase in the M&I resource at its Guanajuato Mine Complex in Mexico

Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc (CSE:AGN) (FRA:AGW) (OTCQB:AGNPF) enrolls 154 patients so far in multinational Phase 2b/3 study of Ifenprodil to treat COVID-19

3.00pm: Prime minister Borish Johnson to address the Commons at 3.30pm

London’s index of leading shares is more or less back to square one, as traders wait for the prime minister’s pronouncement on the lockdown.

Boris Johnson is scheduled to make an announcement in the House of Commons at 3.30pm about coronavirus, and the new rules for regional tiers when the lockdown ends next week.

The FTSE 100 was down a couple of points (0.0%) at 6,350, despite a solid start by US equities.

2.45pm: US stocks start higher

US benchmarks, as anticipated, started trading Monday higher as trader sentiment was boosted by vaccine optimism.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained over 214 points at 28,477, while the S&P 500 advanced nearly 22 at 3,579. The Nasdaq exchange gained over 76 at 11,931.

Oil prices also surged as the market was buoyed by hopes global economies would return to more normal activity next year. Spot US benchmark crude (West Texas Intermediate) added 1.01% at US$42.85 a barrel.

“There’s a bit of a buzz back in the markets on Monday, as AstraZeneca and University of Oxford announced results of its vaccine trials,” noted senior market analyst, Craig Erlam at Forex firm OANDA.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is shining a little brighter this morning. The results of the trial on the face of it look less impressive than the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna results but if you look beyond the 70% headline number, it starts to look more and more impressive.”

Erlam suggested that traders were not so excited on this vaccine news as it was the third vaccine announcement and “to an extent, the results have been priced in”.

“Let’s remember, these companies aren’t competing against each other; even combined they can’t meet the demand that exists for this vaccine. The more successes we have, the faster the global economy can get back on its feet and life return to normal,” he pointed out.

In London, FTSE 100 was less chirpy, however. The UK’s top share index shed over 17 points at 6,333.

1.45pm: Cineworld leads FTSE 250 higher

The Footsie remains mired in the shallow mire, weighed down by the strength of sterling.

London’ index of heavyweight shares was off 8 points (0.1%) at 6,342.

The FTSE 250, meanwhile, which tends not regard a strong pound as kryptonite – quite the reverse for those that import a lot of raw materials from abroad – was up 48 points (0.2%) at 19,555, with the advance led by Cineworld Group PLC (LON:CINE).

The cinema chains operator was up 20% at 55.48p after it was thrown a lifeline by its bankers.

”The curtain has been raised on a more positive picture for Cineworld, with the company grabbing hold of another financial lifeline as the post-pandemic world comes more sharply into view,” said Susan Street, the senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“It’s secured a lifebelt of liquidity with a new debt facility of $450 million and has negotiated the waiver of all bank financial covenants until June 2022,” she added.

The company is working on the assumption that cinema attendances will have recovered by May of next year; according to Neil Wilson at markets.com, “bums on seats by May is dependent entirely on a vaccine,” – they mut be uncomfortable seats, Neil.

“If there is a stock trading on this vaccine roll-out it’s Cineworld,” Wilson opined.

The same could be said of package tours operator, TUI AG (PLC), which was the second-best performing midcap after Cineworld, with a 7.5% rise to 469.1p.

12.30pm: US indices to open higher

US shares are expected to rediscover forward gear on Monday as optimism grows that coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines will soon be rolled out.

The Dow Jones is expected to open 173 points higher at 29,436 while the broader-based S&P 500 is tipped to start 17 points in credit at 3,575. the tech-laced NASDAQ Composite is seen rising 95 points to 11,950 to open its account at 11,950.

“We should all be smiling this morning,” declared Robert Winkler and George Saravelos at Deutsche Bank.

“With AstraZeneca releasing trial results a few hours ago, our updated analysis suggests we are now on track for the majority of the developed world to immunise its vulnerable population to COVID by the spring and the entire population by mid-year. Depending on the pace of vaccine distribution there may even be upside to this estimate with some countries achieving herd immunity before summer,” the Deutsche Bank eggheads speculated.

“The combined vaccine news of the last few weeks is an unprecedented victory for science that will lead to a much faster pace of normalisation to our daily lives compared to what we would have assumed just a few weeks ago. By spring, things should be looking much closer to normal,” they suggested.

It now appears likely the US Food and Drug Administration will grant approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in mid-December, after which the roll-out could begin within days.

If this were Hollywood, the vaccines would be delivered in the nick of time by the US cavalry, because the need is certainly there.

Yesterday, there were 143,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in the US, 7.1% higher than on Sunday of the previous week.

Case growth in the seven days to Sunday, however, has slowed to 14.8%, which was the lowest growth rate since mid-October.

“The downshift in case growth is a result of the imposition/re-imposition of restrictions around the country, beginning in mid-October, and people’s autonomous decisions to reduce their social interactions, fearing the virus as cases exploded. A huge increase in testing– up 48% over the past month–likely has helped too, by catching more cases than would have been detected previously. This means that a higher proportion of infectious people will have been self-isolating, reducing the number of people they infect, other things equal,” said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The US population’s inclination to reduce social interaction will be put to the test this week by the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday.

There is little on the macroeconomic front stateside today; Wednesday is the big day when the revised gross domestic product data for the third quarter will be released.

In London, the FTSE 100 has slipped into negative territory, down 6 points (0.1%) at 6,346, as sterling adds almost a cent against the greenback at US$1.3380.

11.00am: Oil stocks are wanted as Brent crude revival gathers pace

Oil stocks are responsible for much of the Footsie’s rise this morning, as the price of crude recovers.

The FTSE 100 was up 21 points (0.3%) at 6,374, with BP PLC (LON:BP.), up 3.6% at 253.15p, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB), 3.4% firmer at 1,237.6p.

Brent crude for January delivery was up 77 cents at US$45.73 a barrel ahead of next week’s OPEC+ meeting.

“After a strong week, Brent crude jumped another 2% this morning (23 November) to less than one dollar away from the highest level since the oil market crashed in mid-March. OPEC+ will continue current cuts of nearly 8 m bl/day for another 3-6 months,” noted Bjarne Schieldrop, the chief commodities analyst at the Nordic investment bank, SEB.

Schiedrop believes the days of cheap oil are coming to an end as hopes rise of a return to something approaching normality in terms of economic activity.

“Covid-19 vaccines will be granted emergency use approval within days or a couple of weeks, Asian demand is strong, US crude and product stocks continue to decline rapidly towards the five-year average, while floating crude stocks heads steadily lower. The sense is that even if we are still in deep trouble in Europe and the US right now, the days of very cheap oil are coming towards an end,” the analyst said.

Stephen Innes, the chief global market strategist at Axi, says the prospects of a US fiscal support package are fading but there is a “nascent rotation from tech to value in equity markets”.

“An ongoing rally in industrial metals and oil suggests these asset classes are focused on the reflationary possibilities of a vaccine rollout,” Innes said.

Ironically, AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN), down 1.5% at 8,196p, is not deriving any benefit from a vaccine roll-out feelgood factor.

READ AstraZeneca says coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective in one dosing regimen

The company announced that the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine it has developed with Oxford University is 90% effective in one of the dosing regimens.

The efficacy level is below that announced by developers of other potential developers, which may have something to do with the share price reaction, although some cynics have suggested it is more likely down to the company’s plans to sell the inoculations at cost.

10.00am: Services sector contracts in November

The IHS Markit / CIPS Flash UK Composite PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) for November fell to a six-month low of 47.4 from October’s 52.1.

Any value below 50 indicates a contraction in business activity.

The flash UK Services Business Activity Index also hit a six-month low, of 45.8, falling from October’s 51.4.

In contrast, the flash UK Manufacturing Output Index rose to 56.3 from October’s 55.8.

The flash manufacturing PMI for November rose to 55.2 from 53.7 in October.

“A double-dip is indicated by the November survey data, with lockdown measures once again causing business activity to collapse across large swathes of the economy. As expected, hospitality businesses have been the hardest hit, with hotels, bars, restaurants and other consumer-facing service providers reporting the steepest downturns,” said Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“Some comfort comes from the data suggesting that the impact of the lockdown has not been as severe as in the spring, and manufacturing has also received a significant boost from inventory building and a surge in exports ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of the year, providing a fillip for many companies; however, while the lockdown will be temporary, so too will this pre-Brexit boost.

“The health of the economy in the new year, therefore, remains highly uncertain, but it is very encouraging to see the survey’s gauge of business optimism surge higher in November. Improved prospects for the year ahead are thanks mainly to the news of successful vaccine trials, which at last provides a light at the end of the tunnel for many businesses,” Williamson added.

Composite PMI for November

Duncan Brock, the group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), said the manufacturing sector had “a flat out month” but the dominant services sector “took another sudden tumble into contraction territory”.

“Manufacturing’s fortunes were fuelled by a rise in both domestic and export orders driven by forward-buying strategies to beat the approaching Brexit deadline; however, the flip side of this surge in activity was the sudden increase in delivery times, as supply chain snags in the form of shipping delays and UK port disruption offered both a glimpse into the coming months and contributed to the strongest cost inflation since 2018.

“News of potential vaccines bringing a return to normality lifted the mood with a big rise in optimism to its highest since March 2015 but in the meantime with service businesses still shedding jobs at a head-spinning rate, the New Year will be difficult as another recession waits on the doorstep,” he added.

The FTSE 100 was up 17 points (0.3%) at 6,369.

8.55am: Footsie gets another shot in the arm

The FTSE 100 made a better than expected start to proceedings on Monday as coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine success hopes that propped up Asia earlier went viral.

The UK index of blue-chips advanced 37 points in the opening exchanges to 6,388.40.

The mood was further bolstered by the first readout from a phase III study of a jab developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca (LON:AZN), which showed it was 70% effective. The number rose to 90% if a lower dose is used.

Remember, the Pfizer and Moderna inoculations had a plus 90% efficacy rate. However, both are relatively expensive and have storage issues.

The UK has already pre-ordered 100mln doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca treatment, which is expected to cost just GBP2 a time, and it can be kept in a normal fridge.

On the market, AstraZeneca shares, up 30% from its pre-lockdown low, fell 2.2%.

By contrast, FTSE 100 COVID-19 bounce-back stocks IAG (LON:IAG) and Rolls Royce (LON:RR.) were up 4.2% and 3.3% respectively.

On the FTSE 250, Cineworld (LON:CINE) was up 16.9%, helped as well by a new debt lifeline, while Mitchells & Butlers (LON:MAB) was up 9.6% ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions, which should see restaurants and pubs return to near normal.

TUI’s (LON:TUI) 9.5% rise reflected the hope that foreign holidays may be back on the agenda this summer if the global roll out new COVID-19 jabs goes to plan.

Proactive news headlines:

Scirocco Energy PLC (LON:SCIR) has said it is now better able to advance a sales process for its 25% stake in the Ruvuma project in Tanzania. It comes after partner Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) has completed its farm-out transaction which has brought in APT into the project. APT is running and funding a programme of work to take Ruvuma’s Ntorya gas field into production whilst potentially expanding the asset through exploration.

Galileo Resources PLC (LON:GLR) saw its shares rise on Monday as the firm issued a “very promising” exploration update on its’ 100% held property in the emerging Kalahari Copper Belt in western Botswana. The company said a preliminary overview of the results from a Heliborne-EM geophysical surveying over several licences in its highly prospective Kalahari Copper Belt Project look very promising with the EM data interpreted to show several highly prospective geological settings for copper-silver mineralisation.

EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT), the gasification technology company, has said the exclusivity period of the Billingham memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been extended until December 18, 2020. The MoU was announced in May and committed EQTEC and Scott Bros Enterprises to jointly develop the Billingham Energy waste gasification and power plant in Haverton Hill, Billingham, in the UK. The Billingham MOU has been the subject of previous extensions on three previous occasions.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) generated revenues of US$11.4mln from the Kiziltepe gold mine in Turkey during the third quarter of 2020. The average realised gold price was US$1,915 per ounce, up significantly on the quarter, as well as on the corresponding period a year ago.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) has welcomed news from its partner, NexTech, concerning a prototype battery that uses Directa’s G+ pristine graphene nanoplatelets. Full-scale pouch format cell prototypes produced by lithium-sulphur battery developer and producer, NexTech Batteries, have achieved more than 400 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram, the usual measure of energy density) in a practical system. NexTech produced several prototypes using its proprietary cathode and electrolyte materials producing 410Wh/kg of specific energy at a weight only slightly below 30 grams. For comparison, standard lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of 100-265 Wh/kg.

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM) (Euronext Growth Brussels:ALIMM), the specialist drug discovery and development company, announced that L1 Capital Global Opportunities Master Fund has converted $200,000 (plus accrued but unpaid interest) of the convertible security issued pursuant to the convertible security deed dated June 10, 2020. The conversion price is 11p per share resulting in the issue by the company to L1 Capital of 1,430,510 new ordinary shares of 10p each.

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) said it was seeing “exciting clinical activity across multiple cancer types” from its phase I/II treatment bexmarilimab, formerly Clevegen. It also said plans were underway for three new trials using the Faron discovery. In the first instance, it will be used in patients with colorectal cancer and clear cell renal cell carcinoma as what’s called a neoadjuvant, which is used to shrink tumours before mainline treatment. Researchers are also assessing bexmarilimab’s use alongside a checkpoint inhibitor drug in lung cancer and they are looking at its potential use in the blood-borne forms of the disease such as acute myeloid leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Next Solar Energy Fund Limited (LON:NESF) said an exceptional period of sunshine boosted generation from its portfolio of solar assets and lifted its earnings in the half-year to end-September. The renewable power generator’s electricity production was 11.1% above budget helped by above-average irradiation and by having most of its received power prices fixed. Spot electricity prices were volatile over the period due to oil prices and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but rallied at the end of the period and NextSolar said it has left a significant amount of capacity unhedged for the winter in expectation of a further improvement.

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) has secured a long term lease over new premises at its Surrey headquarters at Dunsfold Park. The 30,000 square feet facility will serve as the hydrogen power generation technology company’s first large scale H-Power assembly and commissioning facility. An initial investment of GBP300,000 will be made into the facility with the aim of accommodating the eventual dispatch of up to 100 hydrogen generator systems per annum with capacity for further growth.

4D pharma PLC (LON:DDDD) said the deadline for its merger with special purpose acquisition company Longevity Acquisition Corporation (NASDAQ:LOAC) has been extended to May 29 next year. This will allow the companies adequate time to lodge all the paperwork required with NASDAQ. This includes the filing of a registration statement on Form F-4 in order to allow 4D to apply to admit its American Depositary Shares for trading on NASDAQ and the convening of a meeting of both Longevity and 4D shareholders.

Greencoat UK Wind PLC (LON:UKW) has agreed to acquire a 49% stake in the Humber Gateway offshore wind farm as part of a consortium with several pension funds The specialist wind power specialist will be the largest part of the consortium and acquire a net 38% stake for GBP500mln while the pension funds will acquire a net 11% for GBP148m. The total cash consideration payable to vendor RWE will be GBP648mln. The German utility will continue to hold the remaining 51%.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) has announced that the company’s bank lending group, led by KeyBank National Association has completed the semi-annual redetermination of its senior secured credit facility and reaffirmed the existing $425mln borrowing base with no changes to pricing, covenants or other material terms. The FTSE 250-listed US-based owner and operator of natural gas, natural gas liquids, oil wells and midstream assets noted that following the redetermination, its liquidity exceeds $220mln, comprised of cash on hand and availability under the credit facility.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has said it is finalising the sale of its first commercial concentrate from the Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania. The sale is expected to conclude on November 25, 2020. Vast received confirmation over the weekend, from Mercuria, the company’s offtake partner, following a delay from the previously anticipated schedule.

Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) made a GBP255,000 loss in the six months to September 30, 2020, down from the GBP339,000 loss it booked for the corresponding period a year earlier. Cash as of September 30, 2020, was GBP870,000. Cash as of October 31, 2020, was GBP1,316,000, following a further fundraise. During the period Kodal continued with its licence application for the Bougouni lithium project in Mali.

San Leon Energy PLC (LON:SLE) told investors it has agreed to a further three-week extension in order to complete the deal to invest in the Oza field, in Nigeria. A new deadline of December 14 has now been agreed. As previously noted, the company pointed out, worldwide restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have presented certain logistical challenges. Nonetheless, it said that good progress has been made with the final drafts of all remaining conditions are currently being reviewed by the parties.

Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) has told investors that an exciting time finally lies ahead as its new partner, APT advances the Ruvuma asset in Tanzania. APT has now put in place a road-map for the project including a work programme of seismic and drilling, which will allow the project to move a final financing decision for the Ntorya discovery before the end of 2022. The new partner has notified the joint venture partners that it intends to immediately start contracting and procurement for a 3D seismic programme over the Ntorya gas discovery and the drilling of the Chikumbi-1 appraisal and exploration well.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has updated on the ongoing drilling operation at the West Newton B-1 appraisal well project in East Yorkshire. The well, tagged WNB-1, has so far been drilled down to a depth of 2,295 metres and Union Jack confirmed it has encountered both the primary (Kirkham Abbey) and secondary (Cadeby) objectives. The Kirkham Abbey formation indicated a hydrocarbon charge based on wireline logs, cuttings and mud gas readings, the company said, while for Cadeby there was insufficient reservoir development.

Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) has raised GBP2.5mln via an oversubscribed placing of shares at 1.1p per share. The group said the money raised will be used to extend and accelerate a range of exploration activities across the company’s portfolio, with immediate programs to be expanded in both Mexico and Western Australia. Based on current budgets and in the absence of exceptional circumstances the company’s existing work programs are now fully funded through to end-2021.

Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE), the leading consultant for energy procurement, utility cost optimisation and legislative compliance in the UK and Ireland, announced that it has received London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark in recognition of its environmental and strategic advice, service and support to customers. The Green Economy Mark allows greater visibility for investors interested in green economy activities and recognises those companies that are contributing to a greener and more sustainable economy. The Mark is given to London-listed companies which derive more than 50% of revenues from goods and services contributing to the green economy.

AdEPT PLC (LON:ADT), one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions, said on Friday that it was notified that its chief executive, Phil Race has purchased of 5,600 ordinary shares of 10p each in the company at a price of 223p per ordinary share. Following the purchase, the group added, Race is interested in 16,191 AdEPT ordinary shares, representing approximately 0.06% of the current issued share capital of the company.

Ncondezi Energy Limited (LON:NCCL) has said its annual general meeting (AGM) is scheduled to be held at 12.00pm SAST on December 16, 2020, at Club Room 1, Main Club House Inanda Club, Forrest Rd & 6th Avenue, Inanda, Sandton, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa. In view of the current South African Government’s guidance the group’s board recommends that shareholders should not attend the meeting in person and urges shareholders wishing to vote on any of the resolutions to do so by appointing the chairman of the meeting as a proxy to vote on their behalf. Voting on all resolutions at the Meeting will be by way of poll. Given that there will not be any formal Q&A session at the meeting, the company will host an online investor meeting, open to all existing and potential shareholders following the AGM on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at 2.00pm SAST (12.00pm GMT). On the call, Ncondezi Energy CEO Hanno Pengilly will provide an update on the business followed by a question and answer session. Participants are requested to register their interest in attending and submit questions in advance via email to [email protected] by no later than 6.00pm SAST (4.00pm GMT) on December 11, 2020.

6.50am: Slow beginning to new week

The FTSE 100 looks set to open in positive territory on Monday – but only just. The UK index of blue-chips looks set to advance 15 points at open to 6,366, according to the spread betting firms

While Asia’s main markets rose today on vaccine roll-out hopes, traders on this side of the globe appear likely to give a muted response to plans to bring the UK out of lockdown next week.

Later on Monday, Boris Johnson is widely expected to announce the re-opening of non-essential shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants with the curfew on drinking and dining pushed out to 11 pm.

The Prime Minister is also reported to be ready to roll out mass testing in higher infection ‘tier-3’ areas of the country following a trial in Liverpool.

“The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person,” said the Daily Mail.

“Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.”

Later this morning preliminary or ‘flash’ purchasing managers’ index surveys for the first weeks of November will provide a litmus test for the strengthj of the UK manufacturing and services sectors.

October saw a weakening in the numbers compared with August and September, and November will see a continuation of that downward trend, according to CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The services sector, he said, will bear the brunt as a result of the England-wide lockdown that came into effect on November 5.

It is expected to be another busy week for corporate news, led by the utilities with Pennon Group (LON:PNN), United Utilities (LON:UU.) and Severn Trent PLC (LON:SVT) all scheduled to report earnings.

Insurer Aviva (LON:AV.), caterer Compass (LON:CPG), retailer Pets at Home (LON:PETS), Britvic (LON:BVIC), the mixers group, and Daily Mirror owner Reach (LON:RCH) provide the other major highlights from a fairly packed reporting roster.

On the markets:

  • Pound worth US$1.3326 (+0.38%)
  • Bitcoin US$18,400.88 (-0.43%)
  • Gold US$1,877.40 an ounce (-0.04%)
  • Brent crude US$45.25 a barrel (+0.64%)

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Monday as investors continue to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) developments.

South Korea’s Kospi led gains by surging 1.87% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.42%.

Chinese stocks were higher with the Shanghai composite rising 1.13% but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.08%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.34% led by the big miners as the price of iron ore surged by about 10% this month to a near 6-year high.


Proactive Australia news:

Pantoro Limited (ASX:PNR) has received further high-grade results from a four-hole follow-up drilling program at Sailfish Prospect on Lake Cowan at the Norseman Gold Project in WA’s Eastern Goldfields.

Vango Mining Ltd‘s (ASX:VAN) initial four holes at the Contessa Prospect of the Ned’s Creek JV project with Lodestar Minerals Ltd (ASX:LSR) in Western Australia, show significant intersections and confirm open-pit resource potential.

Musgrave Minerals Ltd (ASX:MGV) has received further strong gold results which confirm the White Heat discovery and boost other regional targets at the flagship Cue Gold Project in Western Australia.

Anteris Technologies Ltd‘s (ASX:AVR) (OTCMKTS:AMEUF) (FRA:DDF) 3D single-piece aortic valve DurAVR(TM) has been selected as a ‘Best Innovation’ at the PCR London Valves 2020 virtual conference.

Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) ongoing drilling at its 100%-owned Carlow Castle Project in the west Pilbara region of Western Australia has revealed a high-grade gold and copper discovery well below the existing 2019 JORC resource envelope.

Australian Potash Ltd (ASX:APC) has signed a fifth offtake agreement which takes total offtake secured from the Lake Wells Sulphate of Potash Project (LSOP) in Western Australia to 100% of the 150,000 tonnes annual output outlined in the definitive feasibility study (DFS).

K2fly Ltd (ASX:K2F) has completed the integration of software developer SATEVA and has officially launched its high-performance storage and analytics solution – Model Manager – to miners globally as well to its existing mineral inventory customer base.

Imugene Limited’s (ASX:IMU) (OTCMKTS:IUGNF) ongoing randomised Phase 2 study of HER-Vaxx in Her-2/Neu overexpressing advanced metastatic gastric/GEJ cancer shows positive overall survival (OS) with a Hazard Ratio of 0.418.

BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX:BEM) is encouraged by results from its first program of field exploration on the Donnelly River Nickel-Copper-Platinum Group Metals (PGM) south of Perth, Western Australia.

Element 25 Limited’s (ASX:E25) (FRA:QFP) project development activities continue to accelerate at its 100%-owned Butcherbird Manganese Project in Western Australia, with the appointment of a mining contractor and resident manager.

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