On the Beach Group PLC (LON:OTB) shed 5.0% at 315p after becoming the latest company to warn about the fall-out from the coronavirus outbreak.

The travel group said it experienced a small but noticeable reduction in demand for Summer 2020 travel following the early reports of COVID-19 cases in early February. The reduction in demand has accelerated significantly following the increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe, particularly the spread of the virus to Tenerife.

As a result, the board believes that the group’s full-year results for the year to 30 September 2020 will be below current market expectations.

12.30pm: Fund-raising sends Empire Metals shares tumbling

Empire Metals Limited (LON:EEE) lost more than a fifth of its value after it issued shares at a penny each to raise £600,000.

Shares in the company that was formerly known as Georgian Mining tumbled 23% to 1.2p after the company placed and offered for subscription shares to new and existing shareholders.

The funds raised will primarily be used to maintain activities at the company’s Bolnisi Copper and Gold Project in Georgia.

11.30am: KEFI dives after agreeing bank loan

KEFI Minerals PLC (LON:KEFI) tumbled 7.3% to 1.28p after a fourth-quarter operational update.

KEFI said it had approved a new infrastructure debt-finance proposal relating to its Tulu Kapi gold project in Ethiopia, which seems to have been in development for longer than a prog-rock band’s next concept album.

The company has been offered a bank-loan from two leading African banks as underwriters and co-lenders. A terms sheet was signed, which is subject to credit approval, and which provides better economics for the project.1

10.30am: Gulf Marine still not ready to face banking covenant tests

Gulf Marine Services PLC (LON:GMS) sank 22% to 5.08p after an update concerning its banking facilities.

The company said it has signed a further extension to the agreement that temporarily waived its banking covenants.

The group said it remains in constructive and active dialogue with its lenders on a long-term solution to its capital structure.

9.30am: Novacyt surges again as its coronavirus diagnostic test proves popular

Novacyt SA (LON:NCYT), up 14% at 131.42p, was a rare riser on another bloodbath for stock markets on Friday, after the firm clinched a major distribution deal for its coronavirus diagnostic test.

The company has signed a major distribution agreement in Asia for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) test developed by Primerdesign, its molecular diagnostics division, and has also bagged an original equipment manufacturer agreement with a US healthcare group.

Initial sales from the Asian distribution deal, which are subject to local emergency use approval, are anticipated to be £2.1mln during the first six months of the agreement. It is expected that the first sales under this agreement will take place next month.

Plus500 Ltd (LON:PLUS), the online service provider for trading contracts for difference, was another stock to defy the market trend, advancing 2.4% to 893.6p on the back of a trading update.

The company reported a significant increase in levels of customer trading activity and said its financial performance during the first quarter to date is consequently trending substantially ahead of the last quarter of 2019.

“It is too early to say what impact this outperformance in the current quarter will have on the outcome for 2020 given heightened levels of volatility in the market may not persist, whilst the impact of Australian regulatory changes previously referred to is yet to be quantified,” it cautioned, however.

Proactive news headlines:

Avation PLC (LON:AVAP), the commercial passenger aircraft leasing company saw half-year revenues hit a record level in the back end of 2019. Revenue in the six months to the end of December surged to US$67.61mln, up from US$58.73mln the year before.

United Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UOG) shares were steady at open on Friday following the completion of its deal to acquire Rockhopper Exploration PLC’s (LON:RKH) Egyptian business, securing revenue-generating production for the AIM-quoted firm. “Completing the Acquisition of Rockhopper Egypt represents a significant milestone in the development of United, establishing the company as a full-cycle E&P company, and putting us in a strong position for further growth,” said Brian Larkin, United chief executive.

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) chief executive Adam Bond, in financial results for 2019, described a “clear and ever-growing momentum” behind hydrogen as a means of decarbonising the UK’s current and future energy mix. “With the successes and achievements delivered by AFC Energy over these same twelve months, we are well-positioned to capitalise on this growth market, particularly in support of the transition away from diesel engines in both motive and stationary applications towards clean hydrogen-based alternatives,” Bond said.

Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK) is planning to accelerate its restricting and cost savings plans as it reiterated that it anticipates meeting expectations for its full year. In an outlook statement accompanying its results for the three months ended 31 December, the AIM-listed firm said trends in its genetics and health business continue to be positive and that following a £42mln fundraising on Thursday it is “in a stronger financial position” to prepare for the launch of its BMK08 sea lice treatment.

MetalNRG PLC (LON:MNRG) has extended an exclusivity period over an oil and gas venture in Romania until the end of March. The company, in a statement, told investors that progress has been made with the due diligence process and the findings to date are in line with the company’s strategy – which seeks “low acquisition costs, early-stage cash flow generation and exploration upside”. It is also assessing a number of financing solutions to support the transaction.

Europa Metals Ltd (LON:EUZ) has revealed results from a conceptual hydrogeological study and water monitor, as part of its planning for mine development at the Toral lead, zinc and silver project, in Spain. It set out to establish the local baseline conditions at Toral, analyse water conditions in the potential mining area, plus gather data and findings for the development.

Norman Broadbent PLC (LON:NBB) announced that its group chief financial officer, Will Gerrand has advised the board that he plans to leave the recruitment company in the near future and pursue other business interests. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said Gerrand’s decision follows the recent group’s positive trading update which saw a return to full-year profit for 2019 on the back of increased revenues and growth at net fee income level.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE), the global developer, owner and operator of sustainable energy projects has named a new finance boss, with the current incumbent stepping back but remaining an executive director of the group. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said Andrew Dagley will stand down as chief finance officer (CFO), at the end of February but will remain on the board and will lead the financing of its Uskmouth waste to energy conversion project.

Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas Ltd. (LON:ECO) (CVE:EOG) said it was notified on 27 February 2020 that Gil Holzman, its chief executive officer acquired on that day 50,000 AIM-listed common shares in the company at a price of 26.4p each and 24,000 TSXV-listed common shares at a price of C$0.4896 each. Following the purchases, the group added, Holzman is beneficially interested in, in aggregate, in 8,489,124 common shares representing approximately 4.60% of the company’s issued share capital.

Circassia Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:CIR), a speciality pharmaceutical company focused on respiratory disease, has confirmed the proposed appointment of Garry Watts to the Board as a senior independent director with effect from 2 March 2020.

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM), a specialist drug discovery and development company, noted that Incanthera PLC (LON:INC), a specialist oncology company in which it holds a stake, started trading on Friday on the NEX Exchange Growth Market. Following the admission to trading, ImmuPharma retains 7,272,740 ordinary shares in Incanthera, representing 11.9% of its enlarged issued ordinary share capital and, as for all Incanthera’s major shareholders, has entered a standard “lock-in” agreement for these shares, for a period up to 12 months following admission. ImmuPharma also has 7,272,740 warrants at an exercise price of 9.5p, being the price at which new shares have been issued in the placing accompanying Incanthera’s listing. In addition, ImmuPharma has entered into a subscription agreement with Incanthera under which ImmuPharma has the right, at any time prior to 31 October 2020, to subscribe for 2,631,579 new ordinary shares in Incanthera at the issue price (an amount of £250,000).