• FTSE 100 index closes a shade lower
  • Morrison’s update drags on supermarket sector
  • Wall Street stocks ahead

5pm: FTSE keeps head above 6,000

FTSE 100 index closed marginally lower on Thursday, but above the 6,000 level, as some trader optimism faded and the European Central Bank (ECB) meet was in focus.

Britain’s blue-chip benchmark closed down around nine points at 6,003. The FTSE 250 also closed in the red, down around six points at 17,588.

On Wall Street, stocks were nudging higher as tech stocks continued to do well but jobless claims data pointed to a stalling labour market

“Volatility has been low in US markets so that has been an influence on trading on this side of the Atlantic. The ECB meeting was the main story today and monetary policy was kept on hold – meeting forecasts,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets in a note.

“The refinancing rate and the deposit rate were left at 0.0% and -0.5% respectively, and the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) was left at €1.35 trillion. Christine Lagarde, the head of the ECB, said it is likely the full PEPP envelope will be used.”

US and Canada 11.30am EST/4.30pm

Wall Street benchmarks were heading north but not blisteringly in early deals in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added over 24 points at 27,964. The S&P 500 gained over six at 3,405. The tech-laden Nasdaq added nearly 68 points at 11,209. Up in Toronto, the TSX lost over 63 points at 16,319.

4pm: London lacklustre, New York wobbles

With half an hour of trading to go, London’s large cap shares are looking lacklustre again, despite what would normally be a boost from a weakening pound. 

Sterling has slid to a six-and-half-week low, down 1.1% against the dollar to 1.2862 and 1.6% versus the euro to 1.0838.

The Footsie is down 25 points or 0.4% at 5,987.38, unable to keep a grip on the earlier 6,000 foothold.

Over the Atlantic, it seems the big stock indices were flattering to deceive earlier and have had a bit of a wobble.

The Dow Jones has fallen 0.2% and the S&P 500 has also dropped slightly into the red after both started higher. The Nasdaq Composite momentarily slipped into negative territory after a strong start. 

Earlier, the ECB meeting appeared to cause the European rally to fizzle out as Christine Lagarde kept monetary policy unchanged.

“This put some swagger in the step of the euro, despite Lagarde acknowledging the strength of the single currency,” said market analyst Connor Campbell at Spreadex

Lagarde stated the ECB had to carefully monitor the “negative pressure on prices” that the euro was exerting, and that that it was “extensively discussed” during the central bank’s governing council meeting.

The euro was up against the pound and greenback, with the US currency dealing with a worse than forecast ongoing jobless claims reading. 

3.30pm/ 10.30a EST: Proactive North America headlines:

Pacific Empire Minerals Corp (CVE:PEMC) (OTCQB:PEMSF) starts drilling at Weedon property as it awaits drill permits for Jean Marie project

Australis Capital Inc (CSE:AUSA) (OTCMKTS:AUSAF) says CocoonPod self-service kiosks launched at first of eight THRIVE Cannabis Marketplace locations

Esports Entertainment Group Inc (NASDAQ:GMBL) sets revenue guidance at $13M and $25M in fiscal 2021 and 2022 respectively

Group Eleven Resources Corp (CVE:ZNG) (OTCMKTS:GRLVF) starts drilling at the Stonepark zinc project in Ireland

Empower Clinics Inc (CSE:CBDT) (OTCQB:EPWCF) starts COVID-19 testing through its Sun Valley Health operations in Arizona

First Cobalt Corp (CVE:FCC) (OTCMKTS:FTSSF) strengthens its clean energy credentials as it joins the Critical Materials Institute

American Resources Corporation (NASDAQ:AREC) lowers environmental liabilities, earns $400K in reclamation bonds

Byrna Technologies Inc (CSE:BYRN) (OTCQB:BYRN)  sees record quarterly sales of US$4.2 million as order backlog for HD launcher increases

Namaste Technologies Inc (CVE:N) (OTCMKTS:NXTFF) (FRA:M5BQ) inks agreement with e-commerce company Lifted Innovations

3.00pm: Wall Street higher in early trading

Once again, Wall Street has upended expectations of a lower start as all three main indices posted gains in the early part of Thursday’s session.

In the first 25 minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.6% higher at 28,102, while the S&P 500 was up 0.4% at 3,413 and the Nasdaq climbed 0.7% to 11,215.

Investors appear to have shrugged off the unchanged and still elevated US jobless claims figure, while the continued strength of the tech-fueled Nasdaq may have convinced many that the tech selloff is well and truly over.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was relatively flat, down just one point at 6,011 at 3pm.

2.15pm: Benchmark levels up

The Footsie has regained the 6,000 level, though is still in the red for the day, as the pound weakened below the 1.3 level against the dollar in a frenetic period on the markets.

ECB governor Christine Lagarde began her press conference while US jobless claims data was released.

Initial jobless claims, or the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, was precisely unchanged from last week’s very elevated 884,000.

The four-week average has slipped to around 970,750 from 992,500 in the previous period.

Continuing jobless claims unexpectedly rebounded to 13.39mln from 13.29mln last time, when the market was expecting a fall to 12.93mln.

“As bad as those figures look, they are getting increasingly hard to square with the rest of the labour market data,” said Paul Ashworth at Capital Econcomics, noting that this week’s job openings data revealed that layoffs in July had fallen back to their pre-pandemic level.

Meanwhile, Lagarde’s ECB conference was being closely watched as the euro spiked higher and the central bank’s economists revised their forecasts for a smaller decline this year but slightly lower growth of 5% for next year.

But there was drama as an “ECB source” story dropped via Bloomberg in the middle of the conference, counter to what Lagarde was saying in her remarks.

1:31pm: FTSE cutting losses 

The FTSE 100 has moved back towards parity for the day, down 14 points at 5,999. 

Shell (LON:RDSB) and a switch from red to green for the banks helped the index cut losses. 

The ECB left policy unchanged at today’s meeting, but all eyes will be on the press conference beginning now.

“We expect President Lagarde to reiterate that policymakers are ready to do more if required, but to stop short of any new policy pledges,” said Capital Economics

Over in New York, the Dow and S&P 500 are both still expected to start lower, but the Nasdaq Composite is now seen rising.

12.10pm: Expected US stock retreat weighs 

The Footsie slipped lower just before noon as traders prepared for Wall Street’s opening bell, with the main indices stateside expected to open lower. 

Following a long weekend’s break, US stocks have whipsawed lower and then rebounded this week, with Thursday set to mark another day splashed with red. 

The Dow Jones is predicted to fall around 160 points or around 0.6%, with similar declines for the broader S&P 500 and the tech-powered Nasdaq Composite, having risen 1.6%, 2% and 2.7% respectively last night. 

It’s been a frantic week, said market analyst Craig Erlam at Oanda, with US tech stocks lurching into correction territory, with reports that Japanese behemoth Softbank is betting heavily on the sector in recent months further accelerating the decline. 

Despite the previous day’s fight back, “we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security” Erlam said. 

“We’ve seen an excessive amount of volatility over the last week and the tech sector has only been set back a month. That’s not to say we’re definitely going to see further sharp falls but it should perhaps be approached with caution.”

This caution comes in sync with gains for gold on Thursday, gaining as the dollar continues to pare recent gains but is dragging its feet, which may be encouraging for gold bulls.

He said the ECB policy decision today may have a hand to play in things, with unfounded stimulus expectations having the potential to lead to euro rally that would put further downward pressure on the dollar and giving gold prices a boost. 

But over at IG, Chris Beauchamp said the ECB meeting should make at least a passing reference to recent euro strength against the dollar, although he said firm action is unlikely this time. 

“Instead we will likely see the bank lay out a path to further easing later in the year, responding as needed if and when the initial rebound from the Covid-19 economic shock begins to fade. Markets looking for a real boost may well be disappointed, bolstering the current negative price action of the past week.”

The FTSE 100 is down 48 points or 0.8% at 5,965.

11am: Mid-caps outdoing the Footsie

London’s blue chips have trimmed the worst of the morning’s losses but remain on the back foot, though its smaller siblings on the FTSE 250 is in positive territory.

The mid-cap index, whose constituents are felt to better reflect the UK economy, is up 70 points or 0.4% at 17,664.92, with the gains being led by the rampaging orcs and ogres of Games Workshop (LON:GAW) as it reported strong summer trading for its Warhammer game was boosted by “healthy growth” in online and trade channels (read more here).

Also near the top risers is Dixons Carphone (LON:DC.) after the electronics retailer said it is considering a listing a minority stake of its Nordics business next year following a decade of strong performance (read more here).

Casino and bingo operator Rank (LON:RNK) surged in early trade as it reported much lower annual profits but optimism about a recovery, though the shares have tailed off (read more here).

The FTSE 100 is down 28 points or 0.5% at 5,985, led by rebounds from ITV (LON:ITV), Compass (LON:CPG) and GVC Holdings (LON:GVC) the top risers.

Meanwhile, with relevance for several sectors, the Office for National Statistics has just reported that of UK businesses that have not permanently stopped trading, 36% of the total workforce was working remotely instead of at their normal place of work, with 49% of the workforce back at their normal place of work and 11% of the workforce were on partial or furlough.

9.45am: Retailers, bank and miners lead falls

The FTSE 100 continued to stumble lower in early trading, with retailers, banks and resources companies leading the retreat.

Following Morrison’s disappointing numbers, Tesco (LON:TSCO) and Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) have both been dragged down.

Asia focused banking pair HSBC (LON:HSBA) and Standard Chartered (LON:STAN), along Lloyds (LON:LLOY) and Barclays (LON:BARC), were all big fallers, along with BHP (LON:BHP), Antofagaste (LON:ANTO) and Anglo American (LON:AAL) among the bottom-10.

Fear was undermining equities, said market analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com.

“Fear casts a long shadow. If the virus doesn’t get you, the fear might,” he whispered. 

“Fear is what cripples the recovery, be that fear of the virus (I won’t go out) or fear of arbitrary knee jerk responses (why bother booking a holiday abroad). There is a fear stalking some companies.”

This included retailer Dunelm (LON:DNLM) warning of a “severe but plausible” scenario in which there are further lockdowns through Christmas, as well as British Airways parent IAG (LON:IAG), which has warned demand has dropped off and it now expects capacity to decline this year more than previously thought, following similar warnings from easyJet and Ryanair in recent days. 

The FTSE 100 has fallen 40 points or 0.7% to 5,973.

8.50am: Early retreat for Footsie

The FTSE 100 opened in negative territory on Thursday as traders assessed the potential economic disruption that could follow in the wake of new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and as Brexit negotiations continued to make little apparent headway.

The UK blue-chip index receded 22 points to 5,991.34.

Leading the fallers was grocer Morrison’s (LON:MRW) in the wake of its interim results, which showed that increased pandemic costs and falling income from fuel sales had hobbled profitability. The shares opened 4% lower.

“Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic was not an automatic home run for the supermarkets,” said Richard Hunter of Interactive Investor.

BP’s (LON:BP.) £850mln investment in wind projects owned by Norway’s Equinor failed to pass muster as the shares drifted 2.2% lower.

That said, with West Texas crude below US$40 a barrel and Brent fast approaching this important landmark, warning alarms were going off across an industry already hard hit by a drop off in demand.

It was bounce-back day for the builders, which are under regulatory scrutiny, led by Taylor Wimpey (LONLTW.), which rose 2.1%.

The investment supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HL.) rose 1.1% after an upgrade from Deutsche Bank, which has now moved to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’.

Proactive news headlines:

Zoetic International PLC (LON:ZOE), the London-listed vertically integrated CBD company, announced that it has signed its second international distribution contract, as well as noting continued progress with its core CBD business. The agreement will see the company’s premium CBD offering reach consumers in over 15 markets across the European Union.

Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) said it has completed a contract to produce research, data and insights for a multinational consumer goods firm. The media and technology firm said the deal was an “innovative type of consultation service” that it will look to offer to a range of new clients going forward. Separately, Iconic said it is continuing to work under the management services agreement with JOE Media and it is currently fulfilling a contract to manage the production and distribution of bespoke social content through JOE Media in the UK, which is expected to carry a value of over £150,000.

LoopUp Group PLC (LON:LOOP) has unveiled what it said is a “significant new contract” with one of the world’s top five law firms. The conference call and remote meeting specialist said following a successful pilot with 300 users, its LoopUp Meeting service will now be rolled out globally at the law firm, which has the potential to become one of LoopUp’s largest accounts. The deal follows two other top 100 global law firm wins in July and August, which the company said demonstrated its “continued success” in expanding its footprint in the professional services market.

ReNeuron Group PLC (LON:RENE) said dosing has now begun in the US for the expanded phase IIa trial of its hRPC cell therapy for the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Up to a further nine people will be given higher dose levels under a revised protocol at sites in America and the UK. Ten patients have already taken part in this stage of the study. ReNeuron said it expects to present further data over the next 12 months and it believes it will be able to compile enough clinical evidence in that time to seek approval in the second half of next year for a single pivotal clinical trial.

Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) said it has been appointed by chocolate maker Cadbury to deliver a new gaming tournament, the ‘Cadbury Heroes Parents League’, which will be broadcast across the company’s owned channels including Twitch and YouTube. The tournament will involve 12 teams of two players, with each team consisting of one gaming influencer playing alongside a parent or guardian. The influencers will be announced at the start of October, alongside the game used during the tournament, following which there will be a period of training for the teams before the tournament is live-streamed in early November before a final hosted at the Gfinity arena in Fulham.

Greatland Gold PLC (LON:GGP) has said that further exploration work by Newcrest, its partner at the Havieron deposit at Paterson in Western Australia has indicated the potential for a bulk mining, open pit prospect. Step-out drilling in the north-west of Havieron identified the breccia target and additional work has now expanded it to a size of 300 metres (m) x 100m x 300m that is open at depth. Greatland noted that Newcrest also pointed out higher-grade zones related to massive sulphide mineralisation were observed, while also demonstrating geological and grade continuity.

Zaim Credit Systems PLC (LON:ZAIM), the Russia-focused microlender, has cut its store base and accelerated its move online to offset the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Moscow and elsewhere. Siro Cicconi, Zaim’s chief executive said the business had proved resilient during the lockdown period and action on costs had bolstered its position. At the end of June 2020, Zaim said it had 32 stores compared to 92 in March, while its online operation was scaled up during the Russian lockdown period but demand has started to recover since restrictions in Moscow started to be lifted from May, especially online.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) told investors it has now formally lodged its Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation (PEPR) for the planned operations at the Leigh Creek mine, 500 kilometres north of Adelaide. The documentation was lodged with the South Australian government and it follows a prior draft submission. Strategic Minerals said that it feels confident that an approval will be forthcoming before the year-end, given the level of detail in the draft version and the encouragement it has received to date from the South Australian government.

Filta Group Holdings PLC (LON:FLTA), a provider of fryer management and other services to commercial kitchens, has announced the appointment of Brian Riordan as managing director of the company’s UK division with effect from October 5, 2020. The group noted that Riordan brings over 25 years’ experience of working across food services and facilities management, sales and marketing, retail and hotels. Most recently he was a divisional managing director at Aramark UK, a leading food and facilities services provider, and spent a number of years as an operations director at food service giant Compass Group.

Cadogan Petroleum PLC (LON:CAD) has confirmed a solid balance sheet and robust, cash-generative operations in Ukraine, despite a number of shut-ins and suspensions, in its interim results. The group ended June 2020, with US$11.6mln of cash, which it confirmed is sufficient to continue operations for the foreseeable future. Production for the six month period averaged 230 barrels of oil per day (bopd), down from 297 bopd in the comparative period last year due to the Blazhiv-3 and Blazhiv-Monastyrets-3 wells being offline for over five months.

Supply@ME Capital PLC (LON:SYME) has updated the market on the status of its inventory funding as well as its relationship with institutional investors. The inventory monetisation specialist said, as planned, it has received offers, subject to contract, from a number of large, global institutional investors to provide funding, in the form of securitisation notes, to monetise more than €300mln of inventory. The company also said there has been strong demand from a number of investment funds which are individually requesting exclusivity for the securitisation notes issuance, and which are also remaining available for strategic support to the company for the next funding rounds.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has raised £1.68mln of new capital via a share placing and said it has made progress on project financing for the Baita Plai mine. The company said it has sold 1.1bn new shares at a price of 0.15p each via the placing, arranged by broker Axis Capital Markets. It said the proceeds will be used for working capital. The funds will support the company amid a temporary pause in production due to transport infrastructure problems – a safety concern over a railway bridge between the mine and the flotation plant – which as, previously announced, has delayed first concentrate sales by three to four weeks.

Sativa Group PLC (LON:SATI) said the Canadian Securities Exchange has conditionally approved the listing application for Sativa Wellness Group Inc, which combines the group’s operations with Stillcanna Inc. Resumption of trading on the CSE is expected in the next 12 days with a quotation on the AQSE Growth Market in the UK expected around the same time. Henry Lees-Buckley will be chief executive of the enlarged seed to sale business with Joseph Colliver assuming the role of chief financial officer and Anne Tew becoming corporate secretary.

Personal Group Holdings PLC (LON:PGH), a technology-enabled employee services provider, has said it will be announcing its interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2020. on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Next 15 Communications Group  PLC (LON:NFC) has announced that the Capital Markets Day presentation hosted by its board on September 8, 2020, is now available to download from www.next15.com/investors/reports-results-and-presentations/ with a recording of the presentation available at https://www.next15.com/2020/09/09/next-fifteen-communications-group-plc-holds-a-capital-markets-day-focused-on-customer-trends-especially-those-that-have-accelerated-as-a-result-of-the-pandemic/. The presentation focuses on customer trends, especially those that have accelerated as a result of the pandemic, and features presentations from Agent3, Activate and Mach49.

MaxCyte, Inc. (LON:MXCT) (LON:MXCL), a global cell-based therapies and life sciences company, has announced that its CEO Doug Doerfler plans to present an overview of the company at the upcoming H.C. Wainwright & Co 22nd Annual Global Investment Virtual Conference taking place September 14-16, 2020. The presentation will be on Monday, September 14, at 4.00pm EDT  and investors can have online access via: https://wsw.com/webcast/hcw7/maxcyte/2019107

Newmark Security PLC (LON:NWT), a leading provider of electronic and physical security systems said that Marie-Claire Dwek (CEO) and Graham Feltham (FD) will provide a live investor presentation relating to the company’s Final Results for the year ended April 30, 2020, via the Investor Meet Company platform on September 18, 2020, at 12.30pm. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add Newmark Security PLC via: https://www.investormeetcompany.com/newmark-security-plc/register-investor

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF) has announced that it will be presenting at John Tumazos Very Independent Research’s conference in New Jersey via webinar on Thursday, September 10, 2020, at 4.00pm EST ( 9.00pm UK time). Shareholders wishing to participate can register via: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7904120121056131851. The new NQ Minerals corporate presentation that will be presented is now available on the company’s website.

6.50am: Market called lower 

The FTSE 100 is set to start Thursday on the back foot as the heat has evidently fallen quickly out of yesterday’s rally.

Spreadbetting firm IG Markets sees London’s blue-chip benchmark down around 18 points, making a price of 6,005 to 6,008 with just over an hour to go until the open.

Wednesday saw positive ‘risk-on’ sentiments in US stocks, particularly the likes of Amazon, Apple and Microsoft plus a gamut of precious and strategic metal stocks.

Yet sentiment can move like tides, and constant tension between the Trump administration and China doesn’t soothe nervousness in financial markets.

“Equity markets in Asia are showing modest gains as the bullish sentiment in the US has gifted sentiment there, but the gains are nowhere near as big posted in the US last night,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

“The Trump administration has revoked visas for over 1,000 Chinese students. The moves comes from a national security point of view. It isn’t a serious issue on its own, but it adds to the overall sour relationship between the two countries.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrials Average closed 439 points or 1.6% higher at 27,940, while the S&P 500 gained 2.01% to finish at 3,398, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.71% to end the session at 11,141.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index this morning added 158 points or 0.69% to 23,191 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.21% to 24,516, whilst the Shanghai Composite was 0.53% higher at 3,271.

In Europe, Thursday afternoon brings the latest ECB rates decision though no changes are expected to either the interest rate or the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP).

Attentions in Europe remain fixed on Brexit terms, or the lack thereof, as a World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms version of a ‘no deal’ exit looks increasingly likely.

Around the markets:

  • Pound: US$1.3001, down 0.01%
  • Gold: US$1,946 per ounce, up 0.02%
  • Silver: US$27.09 per ounce, up 0.42%
  • Brent crude: US$40.79 per barrel, up 2.5%
  • WTI crude: US$37.90 per barrel, up 3.1%
  • Bitcoin: US$10,382, up 2.71%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Stocks in Asia-Pacific were largely higher on Thursday following a bounce-back on Wall Street overnight.

Mainland Chinese stocks gained with the Shanghai composite up 0.35% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.22% higher.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.84% while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 is up 0.29% with the tech sector advancing the most.

Proactive Australia news:

MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MGX) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) has entered into a financing agreement valued at up to A$15 million with US-based strategic investor Mercer Street Global Opportunity Fund LLC to fund its future growth and accelerate production to drive sales in key markets.

Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) (OTCMKTS:BRNGF) has formed an innovative alliance with Sipa Resources Limited (ASX:SRI) to jointly explore the hydrocarbon and lead/zinc potential of the Barbwire Terrace Project in Western Australia’s north.

Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) (OTCMKTS:BRNGF) has formed an innovative alliance with Sipa Resources Limited (ASX:SRI) to jointly explore the hydrocarbon and lead/zinc potential of the Barbwire Terrace Project in Western Australia’s north.

Moho Resources Ltd (ASX:MOH) has secured a diamond rig as it prepares to drill the highly prospective East Sampson Dam gold prospect on Silver Swan North Project in Western Australia.

Comet Resources Limited (ASX:CRL) has invited eligible shareholders to participate in the company’s capital raising activities, launching a share purchase plan (SPP) to raise $500,000.

Predictive Discovery Ltd (ASX:PDI) has intersected broad gold intersections of up to 55 metres at 2.94 g/t during diamond drilling at the flagship Bankan Project within Guinea’s Siguiri Basin.

Anson Resources Ltd (ASX:ASN) has submitted a Plan of Operations to the US Federal Government’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the re-entry of two additional wells, Sunburst and Mineral Canyon, within the Paradox Brine Project area in Utah, USA.

Canyon Resources Ltd (ASX:CAY) is confident that extensive rail upgrade work in Cameroon will help facilitate the delivery of its world-class Minim Martap Bauxite Project.

Meteoric Resources NL (ASX:MEI) has confirmed historical mineralisation beneath and along strike from the Butchers Creek open pit gold mine with its first two diamond holes drilled at the Palm Springs Gold Project in WA’s Kimberley region.