• FTSE 100 index closes up 1.39%
  • Tiffany, LVMH in luxury breakup
  • Wall Street benchmarks in the green

5.05pm: FTSE closes higher

FTSE 100 index closed Wednesday in the green and over the 6,000 level as traders turned towards a more ‘risk-on’ attitude.

Britain’s top share index closed over 82 points higher, or 1.39%, at 6,012.

Midcap FTSE 250, however, the more UK company focused index, shed around 30 points at 17,594 as Brexit jitters continue. On Wall Street, markets were higher

“Stock markets are back in rally mode as investors look to get back to their ‘buy the dip’ ways that proved so successful over the past few months,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trader IG.

“While the pullback has only really lasted a few days, that is the norm for this rally since March. The drop in early June was swift and brutal, but short-lived. The early September version appears to be heading in the same direction.”

US and Canada 11.30am EST/4.30pm

Wall Street benchmarks went higher in early deals in New York with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up almost 500 points at 27,988. The broader- based S&P 500 advanced over 68 points at 3,400.  The Nasdaq added over 274 points at 11,123. Meanwhile, up in Toronto, the TSX zoomed up more than 225 points at 16,324.

3.40pm: Tiffany sues LVMH for scrapping US$16bn takeover deal

FTSE 100 climbed past the 6,000 mark ahead of close, adding 92 points to 6,023.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) has filed a lawsuit in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware against LVMH for scrapping the agreed US$16bn takeover, one of the biggest ever in the sector.

Rumours that the deal was in trouble have been circulating since March as the luxury goods sector has borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.

The US jeweller accused LVMH of being deliberately tardy in getting the regulatory approval for the deal to scupper it.

The French giant said France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry requested to delay the deal until after January 6 due to a US plan to impose tariffs on French and European goods.

As a result it would not be able to complete the acquisition since it would be later than the November 24 deadline set at the time of the deal.

“We regret having to take this action but LVMH has left us no choice but to commence litigation to protect our company and our shareholders,” said Tiffany’s chairman Roger Farah.

“Tiffany is confident it has complied with all of its obligations under the Merger Agreement and is committed to completing the transaction on the terms agreed to last year. Tiffany expects the same of LVMH.”

Shares in the New York-based firm lost 10% to US$109.93 on Wednesday.

3.15pm/10:15am EST: Proactive North America headlines:

The Flowr Corporation (CVE:FLWR) (OTCMKTS:FLWPF) closes its fourth tranche of funding from C$3 million agreement with Terrace Global Inc

NexTech AR Solutions Corp (OTCQB:NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR) (FRA:N29) acquires eCommerce software platform Next Level Ninjas

Tinka Resources Ltd (CVE:TK) (OTCPINK:TKRFF) gearing up for 7,000m drill program at Peru project to kick off by end of month

HighGold Mining Inc  (CVE:HIGH) (OTCQX:HGGOF) continues to hit high grades with drilling at flagship Johnson Tract gold project in Alaska

ImagineAR Inc (CSE:IP) (OTCQB:IPNFF) wins $250,000 licensing deal to provide its augmented reality platform to WaV Sports & Entertainment

Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT) (LON:AMYT) h hails phase III success for skin gel as “significant milestone”

Great Bear Resources Ltd (CVE:GBR) (OTCQX:GTBAF) adds more high-grade gold intercepts at the LP Fault on its Dixie project

Phunware Inc (NASDAQ:PHUN) inks MaaS platform licensing win for a patient-centric digital front door mobile application portfolio with one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the US

Newgioco Group Inc (NASDAQ:NWGI) (FRA:3UW) gets regulatory nod to bring Elys sportsbook to Washington DC

Milestone Scientific Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:MLSS) seeing recovery in wand dental business as it advances sales efforts for its CompuFlo and CathCheck tech

2.45pm: Wall Street turns green in early deals

The main Wall Street indices defied expectations on Wednesday by moving into positive territory shortly after the opening bell.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.89% at 27,746 while the S&P 500 jumped 1.31% to 3,375 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.85% to 11,048.

Traders seem keen to kick off a rebound following the recent tech rout, while also shrugging off worries about coronavirus vaccines and trade tensions between the US and China.

The higher open may also show that investors considered the Nasdaq’s correction to be a healthy one after it scaled record highs earlier this year, and could potentially be a temporary setback as opposed to a trend.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was up 77 points at 6,007 shortly before 2.45pm.

1.45pm: Lloyds cuts 860 jobs

The Footsie nudged up 58 points to 5,989 in the early afternoon as the pound dipped further, down 0.4% to US$1.2933.

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) slipped 1% to 26.24p after informing 860 employees that they will be losing their jobs, mostly across back office processing functions and head office departments.

The bank was criticised by workers’ union Unite for creating 220 new roles but not offering alternatives to those who are being let go.

“Unite has challenged Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) senior management to ensure all those affected by these latest proposed job cuts are given the option to remain working for LBG and do not enforce any compulsory redundancies,” said Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer.

“Unite is adamant that it is totally unacceptable that LBG persists in putting undue pressure on those who remain working for the bank by making hundreds more of their fellow workers redundant on a regular basis.

“The pandemic has demonstrated the amazing resilience and flexibility of this workforce. The employer should not focus solely on cutting jobs and costs but instead the bank should invest in a workforce that has only shown loyalty, dedication and hard work through the good times, and the bad.”

12.30pm: Wall Street to open in the red

FTSE 100 was firmly in the green at lunchtime, adding 42 points to 5,972.

Wall Street is expected to open lower but not too hard hit by the setback on the Oxford vaccine, which investors worldwide have shrugged off as something that can be resolved quickly.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told Reuters on Wednesday it was reviewing all information with urgency to see if the trial can be restarted as soon as possible.

Experts were not surprised by the hurdle, considering how lengthy and complex vaccine trials usually are.

“This is unlikely to be the last setback on a clinical trial for a vaccine, and the market reaction seems to reflect that, however it also means that the idea we will see a positive vaccine outcome by year end is optimistic at best,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.

US stocks are recovering after the beating on tech stocks on Tuesday, the first trading day of the US week.

Analysts expected a correction of the Nasdaq following a remarkable year, rocketing 83% from pandemic low in March to the peak a week ago.

“The world has changed a lot in a very short period of time and tech has undoubtedly been best placed to reap the rewards but the big problem is valuing a sector like this in the midst of the pandemic,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at OANDA.

“The world will not return to what it was in February and it won’t continue as it is now. And the void in between these two realities is vast, which makes valuing these firms more difficult than ever.”

11.30am: Travel stocks dominate fallers list

FTSE 100 trimmed its gains before lunchtime, rising 47 points to 5,977.

Travel stocks dominated the fallers among the big cap following the double whammy of news about tighter restrictions in the UK and the set-back in the search for a vaccine.

“Already freshly imposed quarantine restrictions had taken a toll on airlines and now restaurants and hotels will have to cope with new rules limiting social groups to six, just as the hospitality sector was showing significant signs of recovery,” said Susannah Streeter, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. 

“Hopes that an early vaccine rollout, seen as a solution to all of these woes, have now been dashed, but investors might take heart from AstraZeneca’s statement that decision to temporarily halt the trials, following an illness of a participant as it is ‘a routine action’ and may be considered as just a spoke in the wheels. The speed at which vaccines for Covid-19 are being tested in human trials is unprecedented, so the safety first mantra should be welcomed.’’

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG) slid 3% to 201.65p, while hoteliers Whitbread PLC (LON:WTB) and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) shed 2% to 2,386p and 4,374p respectively.

10.35am: Waiting for post-Brexit bill

FTSE 100 held its gains in late morning, rising 55 points to 5,986.

Westminster is set to reveal plans for policing trade carried out within the country as part of post-Brexit rules later on Wednesday.

The Internal Market Bill covers how powers currently held by the EU, regarding matters such as air quality and building efficiency, will be distributed when the UK exits the union, the BBC reported.

Jonathan Jones, permanent secretary to the Government Legal Department, resigned for this bill as he is understood to believe it breaches the government’s obligations under international law.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said on Tuesday the bill would break international law in a “very specific and limited way” if the UK overrides EU law if border negotiations break down.

Northern Ireland will remain in the European single market to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Talks between UK and EU continue in London today, with an increasingly likely chance to reach a no-deal outcome.

9.35am: Airlines under pressure

FTSE 100 was on the rise in mid-morning as it kept shrugging off AstraZeneca pausing COVID-19 vaccine trials and Tuesday’s slide in US indices.

London’s leading index advanced 58 points to 5,988 while sterling was 0.2% lower at US$1.2949.

“The weakness in sterling appears to be helping the US dollar earners on the FTSE100 in early trading with the likes of BP and Royal Dutch Shell among the early gainers, also helped by a firmer oil price, along with the likes of Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and Ashtead,” said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

“The pound has continued to come under pressure overnight, after yesterday’s reports that the UK government intended to make minor changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement that could break international law in a “specific and limited way”. With no detail on the changes the UK government intends to make it is still unclear as to whether the negative reaction that we’ve seen in the last few days is justified in terms of the price action.”

Airlines were still under the weather after Ryanair Holdings plc (LON:RYA) cut its annual passenger target to 50mln from 60mln forecast in July.

“I think the winter of 2020 will essentially be a write-off,” chief executive Michael O’Leary told Reuters.

The stock shed 2% to €11.37, while competitor easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) dropped 5% to 567.6p after announcing capacity cuts for the remainder of 2020 on Tuesday.

8.35am: Positive progress continues

The FTSE 100 shrugged off the early nerves to open in positive territory as traders ignored fresh overnight falls on Wall Street.

The UK index of blue-chip shares nosed up 38 points to 5,968.53 helped again by a slightly weaker pound. 

In New York on Wednesday, the 500-point slump of the Nasdaq Composite came as Apple shares lost 7%, while Tesla dropped 21% having failed to make the cut for the S&P 500 index.

“There is yet to be a clear signal that the [NASDAQ] index has passed an inflexion point, although the possibility remains that the pandemic-fuelled rise of the last few months may be easing as the world returns to some sort of normality,” said Richard Hunter, market analyst at Interactive Investor.

Here in the UK, it was all about the drug sector.

The bad news came from AstraZeneca (LON:AZN), which confirmed it has halted work on a vaccine it is jointly developing with the University of Oxford after a “serious event” during the trial process. The shares dropped 2.6%.

Oxford Biomedica (LON:OXB), which had a supply agreement with the AZ team developing the new COVID-19 jab, was off 11%.  

There was good news for Amryt Pharma (LON:AMYT), whose shares surged 21% after its gel proved efficacious to study participants with an excruciating chronic skin condition.

It will now apply for regulatory sign-off in the US and EU.

Not to be outdone, Redx Pharma (LON:REDX) jumped 40% in the early skirmishes after it inked a collaboration with an American firm called Jazz Pharmaceuticals worth US$20mln over two years and a further US$400mln milestone payments and royalties.

Proactive news headlines:

Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX) has unveiled a collaboration with a US company called Jazz Pharmaceuticals to discover and develop two targeted cancer therapies. Redx will receive US$10mln upfront, a further US$10mln in year-two, and US$400mln in milestone payments and tiered royalties. The UK group sold its pan-RAF inhibitor programme to Nasdaq-listed Jazz last July in a deal worth US$3.5mln upfront and milestones and royalties worth US$203mln.

Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT) (LON:AMYT) has hailed as a “significant milestone” the phase III success of FILSUVEZ, a gel for a rare and extremely painful skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). The study achieved its main goal, known in the scientific parlance as the primary endpoint, of accelerating the wound healing process. The next step is a rolling submission programme to the regulatory authorities, with the company applying for speedy approval in both the US and EU.

Blue Star Capital PLC (LON: BLU), the investing company with a focus on esports, payments, technology and its applications within media and gaming, noted that its investee company Guild Esports PLC has today announced its intention to seek float on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) later this year. Guild, in which Blue Star holds 11.7% of the issued share capital, expects to be the first esports franchise to join the LSE main market. It plans to create a leading global franchise by establishing its own esports teams to compete in major esports tournaments and a player training and scouting infrastructure modelled on the talent academies pioneered by Premier League football teams over many years. David Beckham, a founding shareholder, intends to use his global influence and following to support the development of the company’s brand and business.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) has reported a surge in earnings and revenues in its first half as the number of Bitcoins mined during the period soared by over 500%. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the cryptocurrency miner reported underlying earnings (EBITDA) of £3.2mln, 96% higher year-on-year, while revenues jumped by 280% to £11.1mln as the company’s production ramped up. The figures were the result of a 545% increase in Bitcoins mined to 1,669 from 306 a year ago. The firm also said during the period its production base had expanded by 260% to 18,000 crypto mining machines, making it one of the world’s largest publicly-listed miners.

Bango (LON:BGO), the mobile payments specialist, has agreed a partnership with ODK Media, a Korean and Chinese subscription-based video streaming service. The partnership means telecoms companies globally will be able to offer access easily to the content on ODK’s OnDemandKorea.com and OnDemandChina.com with payment through Bango’s platform. “Millions of users who live outside of Korea and China to access content in their mother language with ODK Media’s subscription bundled with their mobile plan, or as a bolt-on, using the Bango Platform to enable these offers to be delivered,” the company said in a statement.

Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG) noted that it has submitted a patent application for its inhaled interferon beta asset, SNG001. The AIM-listed respiratory drug developer said the application is to use SNG001 to treat virus-induced exacerbations in patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and undergoing treatment with systemic corticosteroids. The application follows the results of interim analysis of Synairgen’s exploratory Phase II clinical trial of SNG001 in COPD patients, released on Tuesday, which revealed that the treatment is well tolerated in the older population studied and that lung antiviral responses were “significantly enhanced”.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) has kicked off its ‘Third Phase’ drill programme at the Zaranou gold project in Côte d’Ivoire. The group said the programme will comprise some 50,000 metres of drilling – with 20,000 metres reverse circulation (RC), and 30,000 metres of aircore (AC) drilling. Two RC rigs will be in operation alongside one AC rig. The RC portion of the programme is slated to complete in the fourth quarter. The group has a stated goal of providing results upon which IronRidge can define a maiden mineral resource estimate.

Directa Plus (LON:DCTA) has published a two-year research study into the benefits of the use of its graphene additive G+ in advanced textiles and fashion. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, was carried out at the Politecnico di Milano by a team led by Professor Luigi De Nardo with the technical support of Fondazione Politecnico di Milano. Directa Plus said the findings confirmed that: G+ graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) comply with ISO/TS 80004-13:2017 definition; there is a  very high crystalline quality of the GNPs, which is crucial for applications where thermal and electrical conductivity is targeted; and G+ GNPs confer very high in-plane thermal conductivity to functional membranes, endorsing their use for thermal comfort.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) told investors it has completed a ‘due diligence’ exploration programme at the Silver Peak project in British Columbia. The company noted that a total of 11 channel samples were taken and have been submitted to a lab, in Vancouver, for expedited assay testing. Additionally, the Power Metal team is reviewing the exploration work undertaken and the initial findings. It expects to update the market again with the results and a decision over its acquisition option, in line with the agreed 30-day option period.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) has told investors it is investing in its operations in Argentina to boost performance. The company has acquired compressors, previously on lease at a cost of US$2.2mln over 36 months, which are used to lift pressure in gas transport pipeline. The transactions enable some US$100,000 of operating expenses to be saved per month and gives security for future operations. Echo said it is better able to facilitate anticipated production growth in the future.

Newmark Security PLC (LON:NWT) has said it is “confident that there will be medium to long-term growth” in its core markets as it delivered its full-year results. In an outlook statement, the security systems provider said it is continuing to “build a greater proportion of recurring revenues” in its People and Data Management division, while its physical security solutions business is continuing to benefit from a restructuring last year and an increase in its product range. Newmark also said that its leadership team had “identified new markets and customers” amid increasing crime rates and the continued threat of terrorism which it said will “firmly position” its Safetell business for future.

Inspired Energy PLC (LON:INSE) has resumed dividend payments and is looking for more acquisitions following an uptick in corporate energy usage in recent months after the end of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown. The consultant, which helps companies reduce their energy bills, said acquisitions helped revenue in the half-year to June 30, 2020, rise by 25% to £20.9mln. Corporate orders also increased to £61.5mln following significant new customer wins .said Inspired. Trading currently remains in line with the board’s expectations, said Inspired, which announced an interim dividend of 0.1p and in line with a policy of at least three times earnings cover.

I3 Energy PLC (LON:I3E) chief executive Majid Shafiq has described 2020 as a transformational year for the company. “We are now a substantial production company with a full cycle E&P portfolio containing multiple options to create and return value to our shareholders,” Shafiq said in the firm’s interim results statement. “We will continue our efforts in the remainder of 2020 and beyond to grow our production business and build the scale required to efficiently and effectively maximise and sustain value creation.” I3 has agreed two acquisitions in Canada to create the production business, and, recently, also advanced its high value-adding project in the North Sea.

MaxCyte, Inc. (LON:MXCT) (LON:MXCL) has announced that former healthcare analyst Amanda L. Murphy has joined the company as its chief financial officer (CFO) from today. The company added that Ron Holtz, who has served as MaxCyte’s CFO since 2005, will become senior vice president and chief accounting officer (SVP & CAO). The global cell-based therapies and life sciences company noted that, before joining MaxCyte, Murphy served as a managing director of BTIG. She has specialized in gene therapy, gene editing and cell therapy equity research for both burgeoning private and established public healthcare companies.

Galantas Gold Corporation (LON:GAL) has announced the appointment of Alan Buckley as its chief financial officer (CFO) with effect from September 30, 2020. The group said Buckley’s appointment follows the reducing of work commitments by Leo O’Shaughnessy, the current non-board CFO. Buckley’s appointment is similarly non-board. Buckley has held the positions of chief financial officer and general manager at Vedanta Lisheen Holdings Ltd and was chief financial officer for Anglo American Lisheen Mining Ltd.

Integumen PLC (LON:SKIN) said it has received notification from a holder to exercise warrants over 500,000 shares in the share capital of the company at an exercise price of 2p each.  The consideration for the exercise amounts, in aggregate, to a cash value of £10,000.

Tavistock Investment PLC (LON:TAVI) has announced the appointment of Allenby Capital as its nominated adviser and broker with immediate effect.

OKYO Pharma Limited (LON:OKYO), the life sciences and biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel molecules to treat inflammatory dry eye diseases and chronic pain, has announced that it will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) on September 25, 2020, at 10.00am. As the company expects significant restrictions on personal movement to still be in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s AGM will be an electronic meeting only. All voting at the resolutions at the AGM will be conducted on a poll (a requirement of our recently adopted articles of association) which means that shareholders should submit their proxy (by post or, preferably, online voting) as soon as possible. Where possible, questions which shareholders wish to raise be submitted in advance to info@okyopharma.com.

6.50am: Flat start predicted

The FTSE 100 is expected to open slightly lower on Wednesday as investors seem content to sit on their hands following yesterday’s bloodbath on Wall Street.

Spread-betting firm IG expects the blue-chip index to open down around 5 points higher after ending Tuesday’s session 7 points lower at 5,930.

Traders appear to have been rattled by the performance of the US markets overnight, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average close 2.25% lower at 27,500, while the S&P 500 fell 2.78% to 3,331 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 4.11% to 10,847, carrying over last Friday’s drops after the Labor Day holiday on Monday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is now trading at around 10% off its record high hit on September 2, placing it in correction territory and worrying many investors that the tech bubble may finally be bursting.

News from pharma giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) that it is putting its coronavirus vaccine trials on hold and increased tensions between the US and China on trade also seem to have added to the general negative turn in market sentiment.

The selloff in tech also gathered pace in the Asian markets on Wednesday morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 down 1.16% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.91%.

On currency markets, the pound was slightly lower against the dollar, off 0.08% at US$1.297, as fears continued to swirl around the prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period this year. A recent strong performance for the dollar as a haven asset has also added some pressure to sterling.

Around the markets:

  • Sterling: US$1.297, down 0.08%
  • Brent crude: US$39.69 a barrel, down 0.2%
  • Gold: US$1,932 an ounce, up 0.1%
  • Bitcoin: US$10,123, down 1.6%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower on Wednesday with the Shanghai Composite slipping 1.31% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.92%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1% and South Korea’s Kospi also slipped 0.77%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 2.43% after Wal Street closed lower for a third straight session overnight in the US.


Proactive Australia news:

Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) is higher after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for potential offtake of vanadium products with Enerox GmbH, a global market leader of CellCube vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage systems.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) (OTCMKTS:LMMFF) (FRA:3MW) has raised $4.5 million in a strongly supported share purchase plan (SPP), more than double the initial $2 million target.

Galileo Mining Ltd (ASX:GAL) has intersected nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation in initial diamond drilling at Lantern prospect within the Fraser Range Nickel Belt of Western Australia.

Tietto Minerals Ltd (ASX:TIE) has received high-grade gold results from four areas within the 2.2-million-ounce Abujar Gold Project in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, demonstrating the gold mineralised system’s continued growth.

Marvel Gold Ltd (ASX:MVL) has signed a binding option agreement with Mali project vendor Société Minière et Commerciale (SOMICO) over the Sakaar Exploration Permit in western Mali.

Kazia Therapeutics Ltd’s (ASX:KZA) (NASDAQ:KZIA) paxalisib treatment for malignant glioma (a type of tumour that occurs in the brain) was recently granted Orphan Drug Designation by the US FDA.

St George Mining Ltd (ASX:SGQ) has delivered more encouraging results from the flagship Mt Alexander Project in WA’s north-eastern Goldfields with drilling intersecting further indications of nickel-copper sulphides.

Boadicea Resources Ltd’s (ASX:BOA) transformational agreement for IGO Ltd (ASX:IGO) to acquire nine Fraser Range licences is strong acknowledgement of the potential of the tenements to host another nickel-copper sulphide deposit.

Platina Resources Limited (ASX:PGM) will assess the potential of Platinum and copper to add value to its Platina Scandium Project (PSP) in Central West New South Wales.