• FTSE 100 index closed 35 points higher
  • UK CPI inflation rises 1.1% in July
  • Record highs for Wall Street indexes, but mixed start
  • IAG is top riser

5pm: FTSE rises into the close

The FTSE 100 gained ground right upto the close of trading Wednesday as Wall Street hit new record highs.

The blue-chip benchmark closed up just over 35 points at 6,112, a 0.6% lift.

“European markets have shrugged off their weaker start to the day, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq remain close to yesterday’s fresh record highs,” IG analyst Chris Beuchamp said Wednesday. “But it is a light volume session, with little in the way of significant catalysts and no real developments on any fresh US fiscal stimulus.”

US and Canada 5pm/12pm EST

Over on Wall Street, the strength of the S&P 500 was evident as the index reached all-time highs. By the midday mark, the S&P 500 sat at 3,399 points, while the Nasdaq reached 11,242 points. The Dow Jones was also in the green at 27,865 points and in Toronto, the S&P/TSX index was sitting pretty at 16,645 points.

Proactive North America headlines:

PUDO Inc (CSE:PDO) (OCTQB:PDPTF) reports massive increase in volume of returns designated parcels within its Canadian PUDOpoint Counters Network since July

Falcon Gold Corp (CVE:FG) reveals three new targets at its Spitfire-Sunny Boy project in British Columbia

Fireweed Zinc Ltd (CVE:FWZ) ramps up exploration at Macmillan Pass

Benchmark Metals Inc (CVE:BNCH) more than doubles “best efforts” private placement financing to over $48M from $21M

Essex Minerals Inc (CVE:ESX) adds another hole to its planned drill program at the Cumberland gold-silver project in Queensland

ImagineAR Inc (CSE:IP) (OTCQB:IPNFF) taps former NFL QB Gus Frerotte as augmented reality advisor for pro sports

TruTrace Technologies (CSE:TTT) (OTCQB:TTTSF) teams up with Riviera & West One Logistics to ensure highest quality for its line of products including hand and surface sanitizers

GlobeX Data Ltd (CSE:SWIS) (OTCQB:SWISF) rebrands flagship data security product DigitalSafe as SekurSafe

LeanLife Health Inc (CSE:LLP) signs exclusive distribution agreement for Mike Tyson Iron Energy Drink across North America

True Leaf Brands Inc (CSE:MJ) (OTCPINK:TRLFF) enters asset purchase agreement to sell True Leaf Pet

3.55pm: Apple becomes first US$2trn company

The FTSE 100 got into its stride more since the US woke up, now up 30 points or 0.5% to 6,106.63.

Meanwhile, more stock market records are being made across the Atlantic, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) becoming the first US$2trn-dollar company by market capitalisation. 

While it took 38 years from IPO for the tech company to hit US$1trn, it took only two to double from there.

3pm: New record highs on Wall Street

US stocks ticked off new intra-day highs in early trading on Wednesday, with the news from its brash cousins even injecting some life into the sheepish London markets.

The S&P 500, led by a surge from retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) after posting strong sales figures, and Nasdaq Composite both stretched their legs in initial trades, adding very slight gains to their all-time records before the latter stumbled lower. 

The Dow Jones meanwhile added 108 points or 0.4% to 27,886.

One notable component of the latter, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was higher after it struck a deal to buy biotech Momenta Pharmaceuticals for US$6.5bn.

Among the big four tech stocks, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) were all in the red, with only Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gaining in early trade.

Later the focus will move to minutes from the Fed’s last meeting are likely to be closely scrutinised later as traders look for clues as to how monetary policy will shift in next month’s get-together.

Strategists at investment bank ING said the market’s driving narrative of aggressive central banks easing “will be challenged” in the minutes.

“Any clues from the July minutes as to its likelihood and any insights on what it would take for the Fed to initiate yield curve control could see dollar losses extend,” they said.

The FTSE, meanwhile, showed off with its highest point of the session, playing kiss-and-run with 6,100 before dropping back timorously again.

1.50pm: Mid-caps moving lower

The Footsie is sleepwalking sideways at the moment, even though the pound has dropped back to provide some support.

Sterling is down 0.2% to US$1.3203 and the FTSE 100 is up 14 points at just over 6,090.  

Over in the US, data shows the mortgage market contracted last week as there was a drop in the number of households refinancing loans, though mortgages for new purchases picked up.

Slightly more is going on in the mid-caps, where a 10% fall from Hochschild Mining (LON:HOC) is leading the FTSE 250 lower. 

National Express (LON:NEX) is the second biggest faller after a bearish note from broker RBC, also touching on fellow travel operator Stagecoach (LON:SGC) reflecting the difficulties currently faced by bus operators (read more here).

Capita (LON:CPI) is the top riser on the back of reports that a buyers are circling for its education focused business. 

12.40pm: US stocks set for further highs 

Shares in London are picking up their feet slightly, perhaps enjoying some of the good vibes from across the pond as Wall Street eyes new stock market highs.

Futures markets are pointing to the S&P 500 pushing on further from its record high yesterday, with the Dow Jones and Nasdaq also expected to start on the front foot.  

“With the S&P 500 reaching record highs to mark the fastest recovery in history, there is a feeling that it is wholly reliant upon a continued barrage of stimulus to keep the gravy train going,” said market analyst Joshua Mahony at IG. 

“With the FOMC minutes released today, there is a feeling that the Fed are temporarily giving the stage to the government for the time being. However, markets will be watching intently as the Fed seeks to establish exactly what their next move will be.”

Sentiment has also been boosted by Democrat speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she is willing to agree a smaller corona-stimulus proposal in the short-term, leaving another chunk for after the election.

Back in Blighty, the FTSE 100 has broken free of its early shackles, though is still only up 16 points or 0.3% at 6,093.

Meanwhile, the more UK-focused mid-caps are down 43 points or 0.25% at 17,580.

11.40am: Covid testing proposals fail to lift travel stocks  

The FTSE 100 is trying but failing to move higher, regularly slumping back to the flat-line despite some potentially good news for travel stocks.  

With holidaymakers, airlines and tour operators having been hit by Britain’s imposition of a two-week coronavirus quarantine rule on people coming from countries such as Spain and France, health minister Matt Hancock said the government was continuing to work with Heathrow airport on a testing plan.

Heathrow said today that it now has one of two testing areas ready to be used if the restrictions are changed to allow arriving passengers to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, with a second test a few days days to reduce the quarantine time.

Earlier this week, bosses from IAG’s British Airways, easyJet (LON:EZJ) and Ryanair (LON:RYA) sent a letter to the transport minister calling for a UK airport testing model similar to Germany’s, saying it “would stimulate significant demand whilst protecting public health”.

The FTSE is up 8 points at 6,085, with IAG the top riser and other airlines modestly higher.

10.30am: Shares creeping higher

London’s blue chips are shuffling gradually higher, joining European peers in the green.

The FTSE 100 has now gained almost seven points so far today to 6,083.

No help is being provided by the housing sector stocks, however, with the likes of Rightmove (LON:RMV), Persimmon (LON:PSN) and Taylor Wimpey (LON:TW. all in the red after an update of official house price data from the Land Registry and the Office for National Statistics. 

House prices in England fell by 0.3% from March to April, according to official data, but were up 2.6% year on year, compared to 3.5% a month earlier.

The ONS noted that the data reflects sales agreements that occurred before the government measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus took hold.

The figures are the first to be published by the government after it scrapped the index during the pandemic due to a lack of transactions meaning the data wasn’t reliable enough to be used, said analyst Laura Suter at AJ Bell.

As only 40% of the usual number of transactions went through in April, so the latest data should be treated with caution, added economists at Pantheon Macroeconomics. 

Since April things have been very different, said Jonathan Hopper, CEO of Garrington Property Finders. 

“Many estate agents have been busy ever since they were allowed to reopen after lockdown. A steady stream of buyers is showing interest, and even competing on price in the most desirable areas.”

Indeed, ,ore recent data from Rightmove showed a pick-up in yearly growth of asking prices to 4.6% in August, the highest rate since September 2016. 

Suter added: “Initial evidence shows the stamp duty holiday has caused a surge in property prices in the UK since being introduced in July, with the potential £15,000 saving pushing people to move house and offer more for the place they’re buying. 

“However, there can be no doubt that the tax cut will create a bubble in property prices as people rush to move house and seal the deal before the stamp duty holiday comes to an end in March next year. 

“This spike in demand will cause a rise in prices before transaction numbers fall off a cliff in April next year once the tax saving is whipped away. At the same time the UK will be facing a rise in unemployment and the repercussions of one of the worst recessions on record, which paints a fairly bleak picture for house prices in 2021.”

Yesterday, analysts said the strong gains seen for the likes of Rightmove were thanks to discounts and government freebies “papering over the cracks”, with both cyclical and structural headwinds destined to “resurface sooner rather than later”.

9.30am: Footsie back to flat

The Footsie has regained its equilibrium after being knocked by unexpected inflation numbers and rallying pound. 

Retailers and packaging companies are lifting the index, which is just above flat at 6,077.43.

Morrisons (LON:MRW) is high up the leaderboard on the news that the supermarket’s customers can now buy their groceries via Amazon, with products picked directly from the Bradford-based group’s stores.

Ocado (LON:OCDO) is also climbing on the news, while also all present on among the main blue chip risers are packaging companies Mondi (LON:MNDI), Smurfit Kappa (LON:SKG) and DS Smith (LON:SMDS). 

With investors worried about the threat to traditional supermarkets, Tesco (LON:TSCO) and Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) were among the bigger fallers.

Meanwhile, sterling this morning topped 1.3267 versus the US dollar, its highest level since the start of the year, and the currency is at a pivotal point, according to analysts.

“The move clears important technical resistance of the long-term downtrend and opens a path back to 1.35, last year’s peak,” said Neil Wilson at Markets.com, going on to mention a ‘golden cross’ charting pattern that gives a bullish reinforcement of the rally.

The higher-than-anticipated CPI inflation reading this morning has not been able to lift the pound, although Wilson said it ought to help quell immediate speculation the Bank of England will resort to negative rates. 

“Meanwhile the pound remains exposed to significant headline risks this week. Brexit talks have not gotten off to the best start as the EU rejected British proposals for truckers’ access to the continent,” he added. 

“I would anticipate that the longer this drags the more we see pressure come back on GBP.”

8.30am: Data spooks Footsie

The FTSE 100 defied predictions for a positive start to proceedings on Wednesday with the market a little taken aback by a stronger than expected rise in UK consumer price inflation.

The UK blue-chip stocks index fell 17 points to 6,060.03 at the open.

The cost of living jumped by 1.1% in July, driven by a rise in culture and recreation costs. A poll ahead of the data release suggested the figure would be 0.7%.

“While inflation appears to be creeping higher after a fall in the early months of lockdown, price rises remain way off the Bank’s 2% target and likely to stay this way some time even in the face of significant government stimulus,” said Ed Monk of Fidelity International.

“With the UK now in a recession, August’s figures may be more telling of long-term inflationary moves and the Bank of England has forecast another dip in the rate.

“Looking forward, there is the possibility of negative inflation, or record lows, as VAT cuts and Rishi’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme distorts actual consumer spending levels.

“On the other hand, the government’s increased budget deficit could lay the foundations for increasing inflation in the coming months. A potentially worrying sign with consumer confidence still struggling and wage growth negative,” Monk added.

Topping the Footsie’s list of losers at the open with a 1.4% fall was BHP (LON:BHP) with pressure on the stock continuing in the wake of Tuesday’s prelims. Renaissance Capital moved its recommendation on shares in the miner to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’.

On the flip side, there was some respite for British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG), which was up 2.2%. Whitbread (LON:WTB), another pandemic lockdown-affected stock, was also in demand early on as it rose 1.8%.

Primark owner Associated British Foods (LON:ABF), however, was up 2.1% benefiting from an upgrade to ‘outperform’ by RBC.

Proactive news headlines:

Verona Pharma PLC (LON:VRP) said it has initiated the second part of a phase II trial designed to assess the potential of its lead drug ensifentrine used in a pressurised metered-dose inhaler (pMDI). Results from the multi-dose assessment are expected in the first half of 2021. Thirty people with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who took part in the first part of the trial will participate in this second stage.

World High Life PLC (AQSE:LIFE) (OTCQB:WRHLF) told investors it has seen sales growth of 57% in the month of July, compared to June. The owner of London-based CBD brand, Love Hemp, said sales improved in all channels – online, retail, and wholesale – and it highlighted that online sales specifically are significantly higher than pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels. The online channel represented up some 62% of sales in July, versus around 40% in January.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) has highlighted more high-grade intersections in additional results received from a second phase drilling programme at its Zaranou gold project in Côte d’Ivoire. The AIM-listed firm said it has received “additional high-grade and broad low-grade” results from drilling at the Ehuasso main target, while composite results received for reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the target confirmed continuity of mineralisation within the spaced drill grid. IronRidge said the second phase drilling programme has now been completed, while assays are currently pending for the remaining RC drill holes at the Ehuasso target as well as reconnaissance air core drilling at the Ebilassokro target.

Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) has signed a new contract with its partner Brick Live Lab Limited in Korea for an Animal Paradise Mini event. The owner of the BRICKLIVE event brand said the deal has been completed on a joint venture basis as part of a longer-term initiative, with models included in the contract to stay in Korea to build up the business further going forward.

OKYO Pharma Limited (LON:OKYO) said Dr Napoleone Ferrara, an award-winning scientist who helped invent two blockbuster drugs, has joined its scientific advisory board. Ferrara, currently a professor at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, made pivotal contributions to the discovery of cancer drug Avastin and Lucentis, for an eye condition called macular degeneration. Last year the two products netted sales of more than US$9bn worldwide.

Europa Metals Ltd (LON:EUZ) has raised £2mln via a share placing to fund the completion of key components of a pre-feasibility study for the Toral lead-zinc-silver project. Toral, located in the Castilla y León region of northern Spain, is the company’s flagship asset and represents an opportunity to deliver a robust European mining operation. The share placing sees some 15.68mln new shares issued at a price of 12.75p each, with 15.52mln of the shares being sold to existing and new investors by broker Turner Pope Investments and 156,862 shares taken up by the company’s directors.

Alpha Growth PLC (LON: ALGW), the US-focused life policy investor, is raising £500,000 to fund the development of its strategy. Shares equivalent to 17.4% of the capital prior to the issue were placed at 1.4p, a 17.6% discount to last night’s close. Pello Capital handled the placing and has been appointed as Alpha Growth’s broker.

Adamas Finance Asia Limited (LON:ADAM), the London quoted pan-Asian diversified investment vehicle focused on providing shareholders with attractive uncorrelated, risk-adjusted long-term returns, has announced the appointment of John Batchelor as a non-executive director of the company with effect from August 14, 2020. Batchelor is Co-Lead of Asia and Head of the Corporate Finance & Restructuring segment in Asia at FTI Consulting and is based in Hong Kong. He has more than 18 years of experience in restructuring, corporate recovery and transaction advisory. ADAM’s chairman, John Croft, commented: “On behalf of the Board, we are delighted to welcome John Batchelor. John is representing ADAM’s largest shareholder on the board which shows a greater engagement with our shareholders. He has extensive experience across the APAC region working with premier financial services companies.”

Emmerson PLC (LON:EML), the Moroccan focused potash development company, announced that it has appointed Shore Capital to act as corporate broker to the company with immediate effect. Graham Clarke, CEO of Emmerson, commented: “We are delighted with the appointment of Shore Capital during this pivotal time in the Company’s development.  The experience and track record of Shore Capital will assist us in taking the project forward and ultimately realise its exceptional potential.  We look forward to working with the team from Shore Capital to deliver the best value for all stakeholders.”

Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN), a leading esports and gaming solutions provider, announced that it has received a warrant exercise notice in respect of 8,000,000 new ordinary shares of 0.1 pence each in the capital of the company with an exercise price of 1p each, providing the company with proceeds of £80,000.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company announced that it has received a notice to exercise warrants over 1,600,000 new ordinary shares in the company. The warrant shares are being issued at 1.0p per share and subscription monies of £16,000 have been received by Power Metal in respect of the exercise.

Premier African Minerals Limited LON:PREM) has announced that investors D-Beta One EQ, Ltd, YA II PN, Ltd and Riverfort Global Opportunities PCC Limited elected on August 17, 2020, to convert a further US$50,000 of their investment plus accrued interest of US$312.33, amounting to US$50,312.33 (£38,388.31) in aggregate, in accordance with the terms of the Investment Agreement as announced on May 7, 2020, into new ordinary shares in the company. The group has therefore issued 62,450,479 new ordinary shares to the Investors at an issue price of 0.0614p each, the issue price being 9% of the lowest daily volume-weighted average price during the five days trading days immediately prior to the repayment.

Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO), the developer of next-generation proton therapy systems for cancer treatment, has announced that Dr Michael Sinclair, its executive chairman, has purchased a total of 145,000 ordinary shares of 25p each in the company at an average price of 32.18p each. Following these purchases, Dr Sinclair has a total beneficial interest in 8,280,604 ordinary shares, equivalent to 2.70% of the company’s issued share capital.

Base Resources Limited (LON:BSE) (ASX:BSE), the African mineral sands producer and developer has said it will host two investor and shareholder webcasts to discuss the company’s FY20 full-year results which are scheduled for release on Monday, August 24, 2020.  It said Base Resources’ Managing Director, Tim Carstens, CFO, Kevin Balloch and GM Marketing, Stephen Hay, will be available to answer questions following a summary of the results. Participants will be able to ask questions via the messaging function on the webcast platform or via the teleconference line, as detailed. Asia Pacific conference call on Monday, August 24, 2020, at 9.00am AWST / 11.00am AEST; Webcast URL: https://edge.media-server.com/mmc/p/zdbceiq9; Teleconference registration UR: https://s1.c-conf.com/diamondpass/10009484-invite.html. Europe conference call on Monday, August 24, 2020, at 4.00pm AWST / 9.00am BST; Webcast URL: https://edge.media-server.com/mmc/p/z6sqt7r2; Teleconference registration URL: https://s1.c-conf.com/diamondpass/10009485-invite.html.

Capital Limited (LON:CAPD), a leading mining services company focused on the African markets, has said it will report its half-year results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, on Thursday, August 20, 2020. The company will be hosting a live webcast presentation at 9:00am BST on the day of the results, where questions can be submitted through the platform. The webcast presentation link: https://webcasting.buchanan.uk.com/broadcast/5f33fd15b14d872626436e41. A recording of the webcast will be available on the company website following the presentation.

Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE), the leading consultant for energy procurement, utility cost optimisation and legislative compliance in the UK and Ireland, has said it will announce its interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, on September 9, 2020. An analyst briefing call will be held at 11.00am on the morning of results and those analysts wishing to join the presentation can register for details via inspired@almapr.co.uk.

6.50am: Positive start predicted

The FTSE 100 index is expected to open higher on Wednesday as some positive momentum from record finishes in the US on Tuesday look set to reach European markets.

Spread-better IG expects the UK blue-chip index to start around 20 points firmer after ending Tuesday’s session 50 points lower at 6,076.

Expectations for a higher start follow all-time-highs overnight on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 closing up 0.23% at a record level of 3,389 while the Nasdaq Composite also notched up a record close, ahead 0.73% at 11,210. However, the Dow Jones Industrials Average was the outlier, closing down 0.24% at 27,778, indicating that some traders are still wary of the ongoing negotiations in the US Congress over the coronavirus stimulus package and deteriorating trade relations with China.

Weakness in the dollar, which fell to a new 27 month low due to the political wrangling, may also have given US equities a boost.

Asian markets were positive on Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 0.31% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.08% higher following better than expected Japanese export data.

On currency markets, the pound was up 0.08% at US$1.325 against the dollar, although UK inflation data due later this morning could provide some movement catalysts for sterling.

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.325, up 0.08%
  • Brent crude: US$45.12 a barrel, down 0.75%
  • Gold: US$1,994 an ounce, down 0.55%
  • Bitcoin: US$11,722, down 4.5%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Asia Pacific stocks were mixed on Wednesday even as the S&P 500 in the US rose to a new record overnight.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.31% while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.67%. Chinese stocks were lower by the evening, as the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.63%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.72% as China’s Ministry of Commerce launched an anti-dumping investigation into some wines imported from Australia.

Proactive Australia news:

White Rock Minerals Ltd (ASX:WRM) has enhanced its emerging gold story by delivering a robust updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) for Mt Carrington project in northern New South Wales with upside from the project’s silver resource.

Cipherpoint Limited (ASX:CPT) is undertaking a partly underwritten non-renounceable entitlement issue of one new share for every two existing shares held by shareholders to raise up to around $2.321 million before costs.

Pharmaxis Ltd (ASX:PXS) (OTCMKTS:PMXSF) has been given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with a phase 1/2 clinical trial for the treatment of myelofibrosis in adults.

Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) (FRA:B9S) has continued its impressive run of results from the Ta Khoa Nickel-Copper-PGE in Vietnam with the Viper discovery, a new zone of mineralisation coincident with high-priority EM plates east of the Ban Chang prospect.

Core Lithium Ltd (ASX:CXO) (OTCMKTS:CXOXF) has signed a non-binding MOU with a leading lithium industry player for the annual supply of 20,000-30,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate for three years from Finniss Lithium Project in the Northern Territory.

Tietto Minerals Ltd (ASX:TIE) has extended gold mineralisation at depth below the existing Abujar-Gludehi (AG) mineral resource at Abujar project in Côte d’Ivoire, West  Africa, with results of up to 13 metres at 2.19 g/t from 385 metres.

Alkane Resources Limited (ASX:ALK) (OTCMKTS:ALKEF) is progressing the approvals process for the proposed development of San Antonio and Roswell deposits, which have potential to extend the life of the Tomingley Gold Project (TGP) in Central West New South Wales.

Musgrave Minerals Ltd (ASX:MGV) has delivered strong intersections of up to 12 metres at 19.5 g/t gold from 3 metres at Starlight discovery of Break of Day deposit within the Cue Gold Project in WA.

Castillo Copper Ltd (ASX:CCZ) (LON:CCZ) has pegged drill sites, secured approvals and has logistics in place ahead of its first drilling campaign at the highly prospective Big One deposit within the Mt Oxide pillar in northwest Queensland.

Kin Mining Ltd (ASX:KIN) has further strengthened the Cardinia Gold Project (CGP) in Western Australia with high-grade results of up to 15 metres at 3.35 g/t from 9 metres in reverse circulation (RC) drilling at Bruno-Lewis deposit.

Element 25 Ltd (ASX:E25) is advancing on time and on budget with fast-tracking of the manganese concentrate export operation at its Butcherbird project in Western Australia.