- FTSE 100 index closes 157 points lower
- Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index for May falls to 32.3 from 35.4 in April
- Eyes on President Trump’s press conference
5.00pm: FTSE 100 closes deeply in red
FTSE 100 index closed Friday firmly in the red as markets fretted over a potential further deterioration in US/China relations.
Britain’s blue chip benchmark finished around 157 points lower at 6,061 on the day, but over the week as a whole, the index was up around 1.13%
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones is off 184 points at 22,215, while the S&P 500 lost over 11 points at 3,018.
President Donald trump is due to deliver a press conference later, which will reportedly deal with relations between the two superpowers.
“Animosity between the two governments has been growing lately as the US are not happy with the way the Beijing administration is treating minority communities,” noted David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.
“In addition to that, the Chinese government are keen to tighten their grip on Hong Kong and that has vexed the US too,” said Madden, who added that the possibility of another prolonged spat between Washington and Beijing may be on the cards.
3.10pm: Dull end to an otherwise bright week
The Footsie was nursing a triple-digit decline heading into the final 90 minutes of this week’s trading.
The index of London’s heavyweight shares was down 113 points (1.8%) at 6,106.
Stateside, the Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index for May fell to 32.3 from 35.4 in April; the consensus forecast was for a reading of 40.0.
“The consensus always looked a bit ambitious, despite gains in other regional surveys, because the Chicago report is uniquely vulnerable to the troubles at Boeing, whose HQ is in the city,” observed Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“Boeing was in deep trouble even before the COVID pandemic, due to the 737MAX crashes. Accordingly, we’re still inclined to look next week for a modest increase in the national ISM manufacturing index, though a full recovery in the sector will take many months, at least,” he added.
2.40pm: US stocks mostly lower
US indices opened lower, except for the NASDAQ Composite, which went its own way today, as it did at yesterday’s open.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 120 points (0.5%) at 25,281 and the S&P 500 was off 9 points (0.3%) at 3,021 but the NASDAQ Composite was up 19 points (0.2%) at 9,388.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 85 points (1.4%) at 6,134.
The insulation, roofing and building exteriors maker said sales fell 37% in March and April due to the impact of coronavirus but are now returning to previous levels in most of its operations.
The shares were up 3.9% at 29.1p.
1.40pm:”Nightmare” presidential election year for Trump
UK blue-chips have perked up a bit an hour ahead of the US open but remain lower on balance.
The FTSE 100 was down 54 points (0.9%) at 6,165.
“We’re seeing a far more cautious tone at the end of the week as deteriorating relations between the US and China weigh on sentiment,” said OANDA’s Craig Erlam.
“Trump is due to hold a press conference on China today, which will likely involve laying out the country’s response to the National People’s Congress passing of the controversial security bill legislation. There’s a wide range of ways the US could respond which is what’s making people nervous, especially as it’s likely to lead to another tit-for-tat spar between the two countries.
“This is turning into a nightmare election year for the President. Everything was going so well heading into the new year and now with only five months until the election, he’s facing a global pandemic that’s claimed more than 100,000 US lives, a severe recession, another fight with China and riots in Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd by police officers. Not the backdrop he had in mind six months ago,” Erlam suggested.
Travel stocks are back in the doghouse in London. Cruises operator Carnival PLC (LON:CCL), which is nailed on to lose its Footsie status in the next reshuffle, is the hardest hit, down 11% at 1,089.5p while low-cost airline easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ), which could join it in the second division, is off 5.5% at 700.6p.
Elsewhere in the mid-cap space, cut-price retailer B&M European Value Retail (LOIN:BME) defied the trend, climbing 5.4% to 389.3p, after its fiscal fourth-quarter trading update.
The general merchandise seller said it put in a strong finish to the quarter with an especially strong performance in its grocery sales.
Discount retailer B&M European Value Retail has posted a 22.7% increase in like-for-like revenues in the first eight weeks of its financial year, across its UK retail estate. #retail @bmstores #uKhttps://t.co/FCgfbMOIIP
— ESM Magazine (@esm_magazine) May 29, 2020
1.00pm: US indices to open mixed
US markets, which earlier today were expected to open lower are now tipped to open mixed but that has not lifted the Footsie much.
The UK’s benchmark index was down 59 points (1.0%) at 6,160 and has been hovering around that level for two hours or so.
Spread betting quotes suggest that while the 30-share Dow Jones will kick off at about 25,370, down 31 points on last night’s close, the S&P 500 will open some four points higher at around 3,034.
US investors appear to be relatively sanguine about the prospect of President Trump introducing some sanctions on China.
“Markets are rightly worrying about escalating tensions between the US and China. At a press conference later today, US President Donald Trump may announce some targeted sanctions against China in response to the People’s Congress decision to curtail the autonomy of Hong Kong. Exports from Hong Kong may no longer be exempt from US tariffs against China. This dispute is serious,” declared Holger Schmieding at Berenberg Capital Markets.
“To some extent, the very fact that US-Chinese tensions are now a top issue shows that concerns about the pandemic have receded a little. In our view, the risk of a major second wave continues to loom large, especially in the US where many federal states are easing lockdowns while the spread of the virus has not yet slowed down by as much as in continental Europe,” Schmieding said, adding that a US rebuke for China’s actions in Hng Kong might not be a bad thing.
Schmieding also suggested both the US and China might appreciate a bit of trade war argie-bargie now to distract from their responses to the coronavirus.
11.15am: Oil price rally fails to boost oil giants
The Footsie has given back most of yesterday’s gains as traders bank profits ahead of what is expected to be a soft US opening.
The FTSE 100 was down 63 points (1.0%) at 6,155. According to the futures markets, US benchmarks are expected to open around 0.6% lower.
Housebuilders are prominent among those copping some flak ahead of the release of the Nationwide House Price Index, which is now expected on Tuesday (it was originally scheduled for release today).
Oil stocks are also friendless despite the price of oil rallying to levels not seen since mid-March.
“Rystad Energy estimates that the oil market was oversupplied by around 16MMbopd [16 mln barrels of oil per day] in April, a massive overhang,” reported broker, SP Angel.
“The rapid shut in of around 12MMbopd (largely shouldered by OPEC+) has erased a huge portion of the surplus.
“The widely-publicised rebound in demand – of around 4MMbopd, according to Rystad – puts the market close to ‘balanced’ in June,” the broker added.
US oil production (#crude and #condensate) should recover towards 11 million bpd by early fall. Strong #WTI price dynamics will encourage a swift bounce back of the nearly 1 million bpd in curtailed volumes. #oil #shale #OOTT https://t.co/8PoPZed1Ty
— Rystad Energy Oil Markets (@RystadEnergyOil) May 27, 2020
10.00am: Investors turn to defensive stocks
About four-fifths of the Footsie’s constituents are in the red and you know it is a “risk off” day when utilities are in favour.
The FTSE 100 was down 64 points (1.0%) at 6,155 but there was some support for miners as well as utilities.
Centrica PLC (LON:CNA), however, was not one of those utilities feeling the love; its shares were down 3.0% at 37.87p as investors wait to see whether it will retain its FTSE 100 status in the next reshuffle.
Helal Miah, an investment research analyst at The Share Centre, has been looking at the relegation candidates and has identified Carnival, easyJet, Centrica and Meggitt as the most likely candidates.
“Among this month’s relegation candidates, Centrica is probably the one least affected by the current crisis. It has been in the relegation zone for some time now down to many other factors, biggest of which is the tough trading environment in the UK as new rival utility providers sweep away its customer base through offering lower bills,” Miah said.
“Energy price caps from the regulator limits its profits while its upstream business has felt the direct impact of lower oil and gas prices. The global crisis has helped mask many of the troubles at the owner of British Gas. Many felt a dividend cut was already on the cards even before the current crisis, making it easier for them to cancel the final dividend at the time of the publication of the full-year results,” he added.
9.40am: Red screens return
Red screens have been an unfamiliar sight for traders this week but they are back today.
The FTSE 100 was down 64 points, or 1.0% at 6,153 as traders wait for US President Trump to make the next move in his campaign against China.
“Global equities had been willing to look past the risk of escalating US-China tensions over recent weeks because the threats had largely been confined to mere sabre-rattling. Sometime today, that Trump rhetoric is set to evolve into actual policies, potentially in the form of sanctions, which could shatter the stability that the world sorely needs in these early days of the post-pandemic era,” said the improbably named Han Tan, a market analyst at FXTM.
“It’s ironic that President Trump, who has often touted the rise in stock markets as a measure of his administration’s success, may now be the cause for its decline. Should his soon-to-be-unveiled policies prove to have more bite than bark, this could trigger more unwinding of the advances seen in global equities over the last few weeks,” Tan added.
Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) remained the top Footsie faller, down 9.1% at 290p, after hedge fund AKO Capital dumped its 5.2% stake in the propulsion systems developer yesterday and its debt was cut to junk status.
9.00am: Friday falls for Footsie
The FTSE 100 opened in negative territory on Friday, reversing some of the week’s gains as traders factored in growing concerns over deteriorating US-China relations.
The index of UK blue-chips fell 52 points to 6,166.32.
The bone of contention is Hong Kong, which is expected to become subject to strict new laws aimed at clamping down further on civil unrest in the former British territory.
“US markets turned tail sharply late last night on reports that President Trump was going to be holding a press conference later today on China,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.
“Earlier this week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US no longer considered Hong Kong as no longer autonomous from China, and as such would mean that the region would no longer be subject to the favourable trade relationship currently in place.”
Profit-takers moved in on contract caterer Compass Group (LON:CPG), which was off 4%. Buyers of TUI (LON:TUI), up 60% this week, also took some of their money off the table, with the holiday firm’s shares down 8%.
Proactive news headlines:
Botswana Diamonds PLC (LON:BOD) told investors it has now recovered over 100 macro diamonds from bulk sampling operations at the Marsfontein development project in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. The company said it sampled 58 tons of ‘fresh high-interest kimberlite’ and 62 tons of kimberlitic material from a residual stockpile, known as ‘Dump E’. A total of 87 macro diamonds were recovered from the fresh kimberlite with a modelled grade of 50 carats per hundred tonnes, while 24 macro diamonds came from Dump E with a modelled grade of 16 carats per hundred tonnes.
Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (LON:TILS) (NASDAQ:TLSA) has said that two poster presentations at a top medical conference underline the potential of its technology in predicting the recurrence of breast cancer. The group’s StemPrintER stem cell-based genomic prognostic tool showed superiority over the market leader, Oncotype DX, when it came to predicting the recurrence of the disease in ER+/HER2- postmenopausal patients. More than 800 women took part in the study to be presented at a session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) virtual conference starting later on Friday.
Catenae Innovation PLC (LON:CTEA) has teamed up with north-east occupational health and wellness business, Newcastle Premier Health, which will provide its know-how to the group’s Cov-ID project. Cov-ID is GDPR compliant identity documentation exchange system to record an individual’s coronavirus (COVID-19) test status through a mobile app that is intended to be marketed to businesses and organisations. Earlier this month, Catenae said it had begun trialling and finalising the app having created a prototype.
Zoetic International PLC (LON:ZOE) has filed a US patent application for the method of manufacturing its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-free Chill brand of smokable cannabidiol (CBD) products. The CBD specialist said the patent-pending method also includes a variation smoking cessation product, employing combinations of nicotine and CBD, and has been in development for over a year. Zoetic added that it believes CBD may play “a rapidly increasing role in smoking cessation aides” and that its Chill branded tobacco-free, THC-free and nicotine-free products were “well-placed to take an increasing share of this market”. The company noted that, if issued, the patent will provide it with “a protected market-leading offering”.
United Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UOG) has posted financial results that celebrated significant progress in 2019, as the company’s growth continued. During the year it agreed the transformational acquisition of the Rockhopper Egypt business; advanced permitting for the Selva gas development project in Italy, where ‘first gas’ is slated for 2021; realised a profit with the sale of the Crown discovery in the North Sea; and also expanded its footprint via the UK offshore licensing round. Since completing the Rockhopper Egypt acquisition in February 2020, the producing Abu Sennan asset has performed strongly, with the new ASH-2 achieving rates ahead of expectations, and presently remaining above 3,000 barrels of oil per day, the group said.
Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) (CVE:FO) has highlighted a strong financial position, debt-free and US$11.5mln of cash in the bank, as it filed its interim statement for the three months ended March 31, 2020. The company noted that it has continued to focus on strict cost management and efficient operation of its portfolio. G&A expenses were US$400,000 which represents a 12% reduction quarter-on-quarter. In April, the company’s financial position was bolstered as it sold a further 7.5% holding in the Beetaloo project to joint venture partner Origin Energy in return for A$150mln worth of additional project spending cover.
Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG) has raised just under £82mln through a share placing to take advantage of what it said were “numerous attractive acquisition opportunities” arising from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The digital learning specialist said the placing was for around 64.4mln new shares at a price of 127p each, a 7.6% discount to its closing price on Thursday of 137.50p, and raised a total of £81.8mln. The firm said any acquisition opportunities would require “readily available capital” to deploy for fast execution, adding that it anticipated these purchases would be executed over the next nine to 12 months.
Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK) has said continued weakness in shrimp markets overshadowed a robust second-quarter performance by the group’s genetics business. In the three months to the end of March – Benchmark’s second-quarter – group revenue eased to £32.0mln from £37.7mln in the corresponding period of 2019. Revenues in the Advanced Nutrition business fell to £19.9mln from £25.0mln the previous year, which Benchmark ascribed to weak shrimp markets plus oversupply and price competition in the Artemia (brine shrimp) market.
SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE), which is developing the Uskmouth Conversion Project, has announced the start of a 28-day pre-application consultation (PAC) for the project. The group said the PAC will run from June 1, 2020, to June 29, 2020. In view of the current coronavirus pandemic, the Uskmouth Conversion Project PAC will be hosted online on the SIMEC Atlantis Energy website.
Providence Resources PLC (LON:PVR), the Ireland-based resource development company, has confirmed that it is now in receipt of £200,000 in respect of the second tranche of SpotOn Energy’s investment in the company and it has therefore issued a total of 6,116,208 new ordinary shares to SpotOn at an issue price of 3.27p each, the closing price on the London Stock Exchange on May 21, 2020, the date funds were originally expected to be received. The group noted that SpotOn Energy experienced some delays in closing out the necessary arrangements with its consortium because of current working and travel restrictions. As announced on April 6, 2020, SpotOn invested £300,000 into Providence as part of a recent $3.3mln fundraising and committed to invest a further £200,000 within six weeks of that announcement. Following the receipt of the second tranche of the investment, SpotOn will become a substantial shareholder in Providence owning 26,116,208 ordinary shares, representing 3.1% of the enlarged issued share capital of the company.
Afarak Group PLC (LON:AFRK) said that, due to changed circumstances, one of two directed share issues, first announced on May 29, 2019, that was to be done through a share exchange has been terminated. These share issues were related to two signed agreements for Afarak to acquire additional ownership in certain South African mining assets. Afarak said it has instead resolved on a direct share issue of a total of 2,123,343 of its treasury shares to its South African subsidiary, Chromex Mining Company (Pty) Ltd in order to enable ownership arrangement in Chromex SA that will result in additional ownership of mining assets in South Africa. This will benefit the company as the group’s parent as, from its point of view, especially weighty financial reasons exist for the deviation from the shareholders’ pre-emptive right. Due to the relevantly modest size of the transaction and the fact that the company is increasing its ownership in assets that it already controls, Afrarak said it is not expecting the transaction to affect the financial performance of the group in 2020.
Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company has said it has been notified that on May 28, 2020, Value Generation Limited, a company beneficially owned by its CEO, Paul Johnson purchased on market a total of 3,500,000 ordinary shares in the company at a price of 0.39p each. Following this purchase, the group added, Johnson has a beneficial interest in a total of 31,600,000 Ordinary Shares, representing approximately 5.72% of the issued share capital of the Company.
Emmerson PLC (LON:EMM), the Moroccan focused potash development company, has announced that its annual general meeting will be held at 11.00am on June 24, 2020, at 55 Athol Street, Douglas Isle of Man, IM1 1LA.
Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BID), the native in-game advertising group, announced that, at its annual general meeting held on Thursday each of the resolutions were passed by the requisite majority.
Instem PLC (LON:INS), a leading provider of IT solutions to the global life sciences market, has said it will announce results for the year ended December 31, 2019, on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. The group added that its management will be hosting a presentation via web conference on the day of the results at 10.30am. Analysts wishing to join should register their interest by emailing email@example.com or by telephoning 020 7933 8780.
Inspired Energy plc (LON:INSE), a leading energy consultant to UK and Irish corporates, has said it will announce its full-year results for the year ended December 31, 2019, on June 2, 2020. It added that an analyst briefing call will be held at 10.00am on the morning of results and those analysts wishing to join the presentation can register for details via firstname.lastname@example.org
ANGLE PLC (LON:AG) (OTCQX:ANPCY), a world-leading liquid biopsy company, has announced that it will be releasing its audited preliminary results for the 8 months ended December 31, 2019, on Thursday, June 25, 2020. In accordance with coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance from the Financial Reporting Council and pursuant to discussions with the company’s auditors, RSM, in order to allow it sufficient time to complete the audit, this date is slightly deferred from that given in the earlier COVID-19 business impact update from the company on March 31, 2020.
Oncimmune Holdings PLC (LON:ONC), the leading global immunodiagnostics group, has said it will be announcing a trading update for the full year ended May 31, 2020, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. The group added that Dr Adam M Hill, its chief executive officer, together with Matthew Hall, chief financial officer, and Professor Tariq Sethi, chief scientific officer, will host an online presentation and conference call for analysts and investors at 10.30am BST on June 42020. The company will also be conducting live virtual laboratory tours with lead scientists at its sites in Nottingham, UK and Dortmund, Germany. This will provide the attendees with a rare insight into the science behind Oncimmune‘s EarlyCDT tests and its core immune profiling technology service, ImmunoINSIGHTS. For video conference details please email Alex Davis at FTI Consulting at email@example.com or telephone 020 3727 1000.
SDX Energy PLC (LON:SDX), the MENA-focused oil and gas company, announced that it will be hosting a retail investor conference call at 9.30am BST on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. The call will provide an update on operations and guidance while also providing a question and answer session for investors. It said investors wishing to participate in the event or ask a question prior to the call, should email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eden Research PLC (LON:EDEN), the AIM-listed biopesticide products company has announced that it’s annual general meeting (AGM) is to be held on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, at 12.00pm at 6 Priory Court, Priory Court Business Park, Poulton, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 5JB. The group said, given the current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, regrettably it cannot allow shareholders to attend in person and the company’s Articles of Association do not currently permit hybrid or virtual meetings. It added that shareholders are encouraged to submit their Form of Proxy in advance of the meeting and should they wish to ask any questions in relation to the resolutions they are encouraged to email them to email@example.com so as to be received no later than June 23.
6.35am: Market called lower
After US markets turned south last night, UK equities are set to open lower on Friday ahead of an expected press conference today by US president Donald Trump on China.
Spread betting quotes indicate the FTSE 100 will give back almost half of yesterday’s gains, opening 35 points lower at 6,184.
The US government’s attitude towards rising tensions in Hong Kong spooked US investors yesterday, prompting a 148 point fall by the Dow Jones Industrials Average, which closed at 25,401. The S&P 500 fell 6 points to 3,030.
“Earlier this week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US no longer considered Hong Kong as … autonomous from China, and as such would mean that the region would no longer be subject to the favourable trade relationship currently in place,” noted CMC’s Michael Hewson.
“The US house also passed a bill, earlier this week authorising sanctions against senior Chinese officials for human rights abuses, against Muslim minorities, so today’s press conference could well up the ante further, if President Trump signs off on that bill as well as implementing further measures that might hint that the US is keen to send the Chinese a message,” he added.
All things considered, the Hong Kong market was taking things relatively sanguinely. The Hang Seng index was down 164 points at 22,968. Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was off 76 points at 21,840 this morning.
Back in London, the emphasis will be on corporate news flow, of which there is not a lot officially scheduled.
Mid-cap insulation products group SIG PLC (LON:SHI) issues its finals and investors will likely focus on the group’s balance sheet and liquidity position. Another key issue will be underlying trading before and during the current coronavirus pandemic.
On the data front, in the US, April personal income and spending figures are expected to be “one of the more quirky” of all time, according to economists at RBC Capital Markets.
Personal income is expected to receive a “substantial boost” from governmental help, though small business owners may see a sharp drop due to lower revenues, with a total 10% rise. Spending, on the other hand, is expected to sink 15% due to lower retail and hospitality sales.
Significant announcements expected on Friday:
Economic data: UK consumer confidence, UK house prices, US personal spending, US consumer confidence, US Chicago PMI
Around the markets:
- Sterling: US$1.2338, up 0.18 cents
- 10-year gilt: yielding 0.213%, up 1.79 basis points
- Gold: US$1,733.40 an ounce, up US$5.10
- Brent crude: US$35.67 a barrel, down 36 cents
- Bitcoin: US$9,495, up US$41
- The UK government will pave the way for more than 300,000 Hong Kong residents to gain British citizenship if China does not back off on national security laws.
- US conglomerate General Electric has perpetrated fraud according to the UK tax authority in a $1 billion dispute over tax deductions
- Google is mulling making an investment in Vodafone’s struggling Indian business; Facebook and Reliance are also said to be interested
- Japanese car-maker Nissan said that it would close its Spanish factories and indicated that it planned to retrench in Europe in Sunderland.
- Annual pre-tax profits at wealth manager Charles Stanley climbed to £17.3 million from £11 million a year earlier despite assets taking a £4 billion knock from the chaos in the financial markets.
- Amazon is to offer full-time jobs to 125,000 of the 175,000 part-time employees it hired in America this year to deal with a surge in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
- American Airlines is to cut its management and administrative staff by nearly a third as it faces weakened demand for air travel.
- The troubled Ukrainian iron ore producer Ferrexpo has suffered shareholder rebellions against its former chief executive, chairman and senior independent director.
The Daily Telegraph
- The signs of unemployment crisis in the US could be over as more Americans appear to have got back to work than joined the ranks of the jobless.
- British engineering giant Rolls-Royce had its credit rating slashed to junk on Thursday night in the latest sign of the pressures facing the aerospace sector.
- The British car industry produced just 197 cars last month, down from 70,971 in April 2019, because of the coronavirus lockdown.
- Rishi Sunak is set to start tapering the furlough scheme from August by forcing employers to pay 20% of workers’ wages as well as cover their national insurance and pension contributions.
- The owner of the Daily Mail said that print advertising revenues for its portfolio of titles plunged by 70% in April and May as the coronavirus lockdown hammered the newspaper industry.
- EasyJet has announced plans to cut up to 30% of its workforce, or 4,500 employees, as it prepares for lower customer demand.
- Debenhams is cutting more than 1,000 jobs at its headquarters and in stores as it slims down its team in line with a swathe of store closures.
- Monsoon Accessorize is on the brink of calling in administrators, in a move that would put 3,500 retail jobs at risk.
- Tui has cancelled all its foreign holidays until 1 July, and some that were not due to depart until November.
- Pret a Manger is to reopen another 204 shops for takeaway and delivery from 1 June, taking its openings across the UK to more than 300.
- Cineworld is planning to reopen all its UK cinemas in July as the government eases coronavirus lockdown measures.
- A quarter of Britain’s manufacturers plan to cut jobs over the next six months, according to an industry poll.