• FTSE 100 down 15 points
  • Wall Street continues to climb higher
  • Oil and mining stocks drag down FTSE 100

5pm: FTSE ends on the wrong side of the ledger but above 6K

London’s leading benchmark index finished the day down 15 points, 0.25%, at 6,001.4. It’s counterpart, the FTSE 250, fared better, ending the day up 98 points, 0.5%, ,at 18,172.5.

Traders in Europe are in a bit of a holding pattern as coronavirus relief talks drag on across the pond.

“There hasn’t been much in the way of news to drive sentiment but dealers are still a little optimistic in relation to US politicians brokering a coronavirus relief package,” CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden wrote Monday. “On Friday, President Trump announced that talks were progressing and that helped US indices hit a five week high. Over the weekend, it became clear that differences still exist in areas such as healthcare and the paycheck protection program. Even though policymakers are still negotiating, the bulls are taking some comfort from the fact the talks haven’t ground to a halt.”

The FTSE 100 is underperforming because of the fall in oil and mining stocks, Madden noted. BP plc (LON:BP) (NYSE:BP), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (LON:RDSA), Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO) and Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) all lost ground.

In the US, the Dow was up 237 points, 0.8%, to 28,824.5 just after noon ET. The Nasdaq climbed 256 points, 2.2%, to 11,836.2, and the S&P 500 improved 50 points, 1.5%, to 3,528.1.

Tech stocks were leading the way, as Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) all gained roughly 3% or more. 

3.30pm: US earnings seasons starts tomorrow

The Footsie has now settled back into the red but as with its foray into positive territory, it has not moved far.

The index was down 6 points (0.1%) at 6,010.

“A relatively slow start to the week, with the data calendar looking thin and the US bank holiday likely contributing to the lack of activity,” said Craig Erlam of OANDA, perhaps exaggerating the levels of excitement seen today.

The US earnings season kicks off tomorrow, so that may liven things up a bit – otherwise, hibernation is looking like a good option for equity traders.

“Here in the UK, Brexit is front and centre as London and Brussels lock horns once again. This weeks ‘deadline’ is fast approaching and the same old issues are still holding up a deal. It’s generally accepted now that the ‘real deadline’ is the end of the month and that a broad outline of a deal is wanted to present at the EU summit. Even that may be too optimistic.” Erlam suggested.

“The pound is being remarkably well behaved under the circumstances. Whether that’s complacency with no-deal remaining a very real risk or just an accurate reflection of the chances of a deal is debatable but the longer a deal takes to be thrashed out, the more nervy traders may become. Although the failure to secure a deal at this point would be a huge failure, particularly under the circumstances,” he added.

3.15pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Newgioco Group Inc (NASDAQ:NWGI) via subsidiary Multigioco plans to install up to 400 self-service point of sale locations in Italy

FansUnite Entertainment Inc (CSE:FANS) (OTCPINK:FUNFF) bolsters balance sheet with debt sale to Victory Square Technologies

Lexaria Bioscience Corp (OTCMKTS:LXRP) (CSE:LXX) (CNSX:LXX.CN) updates on business relationship with Altria Ventures

PreveCeutical Medical Inc (CSE:PREV) (OTCQB:PRVCF) (FRA:18H) set to submit a revised application for potential coronavirus therapy funding

Metalla Royalty & Streaming Ltd (NYSEAMERICAN:MTA) (CVE:MTA) reports uplift in revenue and operating cash margin in first quarter

The Flowr Corporation (CVE:FLWR) (OTCMKTS:FLWPF) closes on fifth tranche of C$3M agreement with Terrace Global to help fund its medical cannabis site in Portugal

2.45pm: Higher start for US markets

As expected, the main indices on Wall Street quickly moved into positive territory on Monday morning in New York as optimism over US government stimulus continued to drive sentiment.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.3% at 28,672 while the S&P 500 rose 0.69% to 3,501 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.29% to 11,729.

While the ongoing stimulus negotiations are holding most of the attention on Wall Street, another political battle could be in the work as the US Senate begins its first day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who has been selected by Donald Trump as the candidate to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.

Back on the market, one of the early risers was tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), which climbed 3.4% to US$120.9 ahead of the firm’s expected revelation of its new iPhone tomorrow.

The markets were heading in the opposite direction in London, with the FTSE 100 falling into the red into late-afternoon, down 8 points at 6,008 at 2.45pm.

2.15pm: Aminex top of the tree

The FTSE 100 today is like one of those fireworks where you light the blue touchpaper, retire and … nothing.

The index of heavyweight shares is up 8 points (0.1%) at 6,024 and some idea of how unsexy it is can be gleaned from two of the index’s top three risers – Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC (LON:SMT), up 2.5% at 1,050p, and asset management firm Intermediate Capital Group PLC (LON:ICP), up 2.3% at 1,395p.

To be fair, characterising Scottish Mortgage as dull as ditchwater is a little harsh as it has a lot of high-flying US tech stocks in its portfolio

Away from the big-caps, Aminex PLC (LON:AEX) was the top performing stock in London, shooting up 63% to 0.65p after it received approval from the Tanzanian Government for the transfer of a 50% interest in, and operatorship of, the Ruvuma production sharing agreement to ARA Petroleum Tanzania Limited.

Aminex toppled Eddie Stobart Logistics PLC (LON:ESL) from the top spot; the logistics company’s shares were up 43% at 9.5p after it said its 49%-owned associate GreenWhiteStar Acquisitions benefitted from increasing demand for logistics and transport services during the pandemic.

12.20pm: US indices to open higher on stimulus hopes

Hopes of progress on a financial stimulus package for the hard-hit US economy continue to fuel the progress of US equities.

After ending last week on a bright note, the major US indices are expected to start this week with their best foot forward.

The Dow Jones is tipped to open around 53 points firmer to 28,640 and the S&P 500 is slated to start 20 points to the good at 3,497.

Ahead of the unbearable hoop-la that will surround the Apple iPhone launch tomorrow, the tech-heavy NASDAQ is looking set for another strong day, with spread betting sites quoting the index at 11,898, up 318 points on Friday’s close.

“US bond markets are closed for Columbus Day, so some traders will expect to see a less America-centric tone to the day ahead; however, stimulus talks in congress remain one of the key elements driving market sentiment as we move forward. With around three-weeks left until the election, Biden’s lead in the poll could point towards a substantial fiscal package coming into play should the Dems take congress,2 said Josh Mahony at IG Group.

“However, for now, it is clear that perhaps the most we can hope for is a trimmed-down, targeted package to address those areas where stimulus cannot wait,” he added.

In London, traders could do with a bit of stimulus – a large cup of coffee laced with Red Bull perhaps – as activity remains subdued, although the FTSE 100 index has at least moved into positive territory, up 7 points (0.1%) at 6,023.

The pound has lost a quarter of a cent against the US dollar, which might account for the Footsie’s modest revival although it is being outdone by the FTSE 250, which usually derives little benefit from a weak exchange rate.

The mid-cap index is up 123 points (0.7%) at 18,1986.

Among the mid-caps, Network International Holdings PLC (LON:NETW), the digital commerce enabler that is focused on the Middle East and Africa, was off 3.7% at 305.6p after an underwhelming trading update.

The biggest faller, however, was TUI AG (LON:TUI), the package tour operator, as the threat grows of government across the globe imposing stricter lockdown measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

The shares were off 4.1% at 296.6p.

11.30am: Mixed news for GVC

UK equities are, to use a well-worn phrase, seeking direction.

The FTSE 100 was down 3 points (0.0%) at 6,014.

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC), the owner of the Coral and Ladbrokes betting brands, announced it had been awarded four sports-betting licences in Germany but failed to impress the market, which marked its shares down 2.1% to 1,067.5p.

What probably disappointed traders was a wagering limit on the licences of €1,000 euros per month that can be increased to €10,000 subject to certain criteria being met as well as certain loss limits.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) defied the trend – although it is not so much a trend as a barely discernible dip – by edging 0.2% higher to 8,441p after it disclosed that its long-acting antibody combination, AZD7442, will advance into two Phase III clinical trials in the next weeks.

10.05am: “Stock of the month” Rolls-Royce on the rise again

What’s the opposite to “it’s all kicking off”? Whatever it is, that’s the situation in a slumbering London stock market.

The FTSE 100 was down 3 points (0.1%) at 6,013. in negative territory thanks to the 4.7% fall to 4,515p suffered by industrial software specialist AVEVA Group PLC (LON:AVV), after it warned that a couple of contracts expected to be clinched in the second quarter of its financial year had slipped into the third quarter.

Offsetting this was the comeback stock of October, Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.), up 3.5% at 231p. As recently as October 2, the stock hit a 52-week low of 113.6p.

For much of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolls-Royce has been sharing time in the Footsie cellar with British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines SA (LON:IAG), which today announced some senior management changes.

Alex Cruz, the chairman and chief executive of British Airways, is to disembark, to be replaced by Sean Doyle, currentlt the chairman and chief executive officer of Aer Lingus.

8.45am: Caution prevails for Footsie

As predicted, the FTSE 100 index made a sluggish start to the proceedings on Monday, although the general direction of travel was down rather than up.

The UK blue-chip index opened 10 points lower at 6,007.09.

Dealers ignored the pull of gains in Asia’s main markets to focus on matters closer to home – the introduction of further coronavirus pandemic restrictions on congregating and socialising.

Brexit negotiations, meanwhile, are entering a crucial phase with Boris Johnson’s self-imposed deadline of October 15 fast approaching. We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric from both sides, but have seen precious little progress.

With the bank reporting season set to get underway in the US this week, analysts will also be looking to see if there is any ‘read-across’, particularly on the issue of bad debts.

Judging by the 2.3% advance of NatWest (LON:NWG), the mood in the Square Mile is fairly sanguine.

Sticking with the early risers, jet engine maker Rolls Royce (LON:RR.) continued it’s return from the dead with a further 4.4% advance. Over the last week, the shares have almost doubled in price as the group signed formalised a £5bn rescue package.

The profit-taking continued for AVEVA (LON:AVV), which fell 3.3% and led the Footsie fallers after what looked like a broadly neutral trading update from the UK’s largest listed tech firm.

Among the small-caps, Scancell Holdings (LON:SCLP) stood out. After raising £30mln of new funding, tapping the market for £12mln as it issued stock at a modest discount, logic suggested the share price should fall.

However, investors kept the faith as Scancell rose a further 8% in early trade taking its valuation above £100mln.

Proactive news headlines:

Induction Healthcare Group PLC (LON:INHC) said it has signed a strategic collaboration deal with global healthcare technology firm Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) to develop a joint patient engagement solution for NHS trusts to deliver “easier, quicker and more efficient service for patients”. The company said the collaboration will closely align existing patient facing technology in the UK and Ireland, building on the benefits of Cerner’s patient portal solution Healthelife and the integration capability of Zesty, Induction’s patient portal for hospitals, with Cerner’s electronic health record (EHR) Cerner Millennium. Cerner’s EHR is utilised by more than 144,000 health and care professionals across 24 NHS Trusts to manage 1.5mln patients every month.

e-therapeutics PLC (LON:ETX) said in its interim results statement that it remains in active discussions with large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies about future collaborations. Meanwhile, its recently announced collaboration with Galapagos is on schedule, with compound testing slated to take place early next year, while it has extended its collaboration with Novo Nordisk until March 2021 to evaluate results that have been generated so far and to decide if further compounds need to be tested to explore the findings to date. The company, which has a computer-based platform to assist in drug discovery, also announced that executive chairman Ali Mortazavi will take on chief executive duties as well.

Seeing Machines Ltd (LON:SEE) has told investors it is officially expanding its driver monitoring technology to become an overall vehicle interior occupant monitoring system (OMS). It will allow the company’s technology – which conducts head, eye, and face tracking using cameras – to apply not only to the driver but concurrently also passengers in vehicles. The expanded product will be available for automotive production programs starting in 2023, the company said.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) said it produced 5,125 ounces of gold at its Kiziltepe mine in Turkey during the quarter ended September 30, 2020. Kiziltepe is part of the Red Rabbit joint venture with Proccea Construction and is 50%-owned by Ariana. Ariana continues to guide for full-year production of 18,000 ounces.

ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADME) told investors that the Aje field, in Nigeria, has now seen its fourteenth lifting of crude, marking the first sales since they were suspended at the onset of the pandemic. Earlier this year, the Aje field’s operator decided to pause oil sales and store production in order to sell the barrels later at better prices. It meant that the scheduled March lifting was skipped. Now, some 557,091 barrels of crude – of which ADM’s share amounts to 33,056 barrels – have been lifted.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has said several meal replacement shakes and bars containing its proprietary weight management technology have been launched down under. The products will be sold under the Optislim brand with Woolworths, ChemistWarehouse and on OptiPharm Pty Ltd’s online store in Australia and New Zealand. The launches build on a licence agreement entered into in March 2020 with OptiPharm, whose flagship brand Optislim is the market-leading weight management brand in Australia.

Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX) has received an order for its drug-device technology from University of Texas  MD Anderson Cancer Center, a world-leading research and teaching hospital. The 9820 Xenon Polariser will be used to assess lung function after chemotherapy and radiation therapies, providing guidance for improved radiation treatment planning, the company said.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) (OTCMKTS:SMCDY) said it has returned a 55% year-on-year boost in sales revenue at the Cobre project in the US in the third quarter to end September 2020. Uninterrupted operations continue at Cobre as a result of effective zero contact on-site due to processes and policies enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scancell Holdings PLC said it has raised £30mln to fund the further development of its potential cancer immunotherapies and a possible vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19). An additional £3mln open offer will provide existing investors with the chance to acquire new stock in the business. The US specialist healthcare investor, Redmile Group, is subscribing for £12.1mln of new equity at 13p, as well as issuing £17.9mln of loan notes that can be converted into shares at the same price.

Argentex Group PLC (LON:AGF) has said that while coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption led to some deferral of business in the first half of 2020 it expects to make this up over the rest of the year. The AIM-listed firm provides foreign exchange services mainly to small and medium-sized companies but also institutions and high net worths. In a trading update, the company said revenues for the six-months to September 30, 2020, were £11.8mln, or 14.7% lower than the previous year. Argentex said continued macro-economic uncertainty and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had caused the dip in revenue but it expects these deferrals to result in stronger trading volumes in the second half of the financial year.

Scotgold Resources Ltd (LON:SGZ) has raised £3mln by way of a placing of shares at 110p each. The proceeds of the placing will be used to accelerate plans to double production at the Cononish gold and silver mine in Scotland. Cononish remains on course to become Scotland’s first commercial gold mine by November 30, 2020, the group said. Funds will also be used to increase exploration activities, rolling out Scotgold’s systematic programmes across its 2,900 square kilometre licence portfolio in the Grampian Terrane of Scotland.

Eurasia Mining PLC (LON:EUA) has said it notes the recent significant rise in the company’s share price and added that there have been no new developments requiring formal notification beyond those included in the company’s announcement of interim results on September 30, 2020.

Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD), the mineral exploration and development company, announced after the market close on Friday that it has received a conversion notice in relation to its US$1.5mln unsecured convertible loan with Riverfort Global Opportunities PCC Limited and YA II PN Ltd, details of which were announced on July 15, 2020. The group said the investors have elected to convert a total amount of $102,352.31 (equivalent to £79,271.86), made up of a principal amount of US$100,004.40 and accrued interest of $2,347.91, into 125,034,486  new ordinary shares of 0.03125p each in the company at a price of 0.06340p per ordinary share.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST), the AIM-listed mining company, has updated the market on progress on the asset backed debt financing process linked to its Baita Plai Polymetallic Mine. Following the previous announcement made on September 10, 2020, regarding progress on the debt financing process with an international banking institution, the group has informed the market on an indicative timeline to the conclusion of the debt finance facility. Independent consultants have now been engaged by the bank and subject to the satisfactory finalisation of technical, environmental and legal due diligence the company and the bank are targeting the finalisation of a binding term sheet by the end of November with final approval targeted in December.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR), the AIM-quoted exploration company focused on West Africa, has announced that, ahead of the company’s upcoming General Meeting on October 27, 2020, its directors will host an online question and answer (Q&A) session at 3pm on October 20, 2020. Shareholders can attend by registering at the following link https://my.6ix.com/IgSPpLjd. As previously announced, the General Meeting has been called in order to pass resolutions to allow the company to proceed with a fund raise for £1.869mln, primarily to fund its maiden drilling programme at the Bibemi gold project in Cameroon.

6.50am: Sluggish start predicted 

The FTSE 100 looks set to make a muted but positive start to the trading week with London’s price-setters expected to ignore the growing discontent over lockdown.

It is expected that Boris Johnson will unveil a new three-tier system with tough restrictions on coronavirus hot-spots that could last up to six months.

It is reported that the Prime Minister will hold an emergency Cobra briefing on Monday morning to hammer out the final details to be delivered to the Commons.

Local leaders in the north of the country have already begun to rail at the clampdown plans.

China leads the way

Asia’s main markets were led higher on Monday by China, which has seen its currency soar amid recovery hopes.

Immediate measures to allow speculators to bet against the yuan were enacted, a move that was roundly applauded.

Reflecting Beijing’s timely intervention, the Shanghai Compositive advanced 2.6% on Monday, followed by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which was up 2.3% amid hopes of a regional recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.

Closer to home, the UK-EU Brexit trade talks could start making headlines again this week with Boris Johnson’s make-or-break deadline of October 15 on dealers’ minds.

“The UK Prime Minister stated a few weeks ago that if a meaningful trade agreement hasn’t been set out by then, the British negotiating team will leave the talks,” said David Madden of CMC Markets.

“The EU has mentioned a deadline of late October. Both sides have said that progress has been made but differences will still remain. In a way, the teams have to threaten to walk away or else the other side would take advantage.

“The prospect of the UK and the EU trading on basic World Trade Organisation terms come 2021 is daunting but sterling has been holding up relatively well when you take into account what is at stake,” Madden added.

Back here in the UK, it looks set to be another busy week for scheduled corporate news with online fashion group ASOS (LON:ASC), builder Barratt (LON:BDEV), homewares retailer Dunelm (LON:DNLM) and pubs group Wetherspoon (LON:JDW) among the pick of the bunch.

Around the markets:

  • Pound worth US$1.3040 (flat)
  • Bitcoin $11,407.51 (up 0.77%)
  • Gold US$1,934.80 (up 0.85%)
  • Brent crude US$42.45 (down 0.93)

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Asia-Pacific stocks mostly advanced on Monday with Chinese shares among the biggest gainers in the region as the Shanghai composite surged 2.24%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 2.17% while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.34% after shares returned to trade following a Friday holiday.

Shares in Australia were also higher with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.49% but Japan skipped the trend with the Nikkei 225 shedding 0.27%.

Proactive Australia news:

Meteoric Resources NL (ASX:MEI) (FRA:RNF) has intersected additional thick high-grade gold mineralisation above 90 g/t at Juruena Gold Project in Brazil, highlighting the project’s resource growth potential.

Boadicea Resources Ltd (ASX:BOA) is set to hit the ground running with exploration at its recently acquired highly prospective Koongulla Project in the Paterson Province of Western Australia.

Cape Lambert Resources Limited (ASX:CFE) has received firm commitments to raise about A$2 million from a strongly oversubscribed share placement.

Element 25 Limited (ASX:E25) has agreed key commercial terms under a non-binding term sheet to sell 100% of the manganese ore produced – up to 365,000 tonnes per annum – from the first stage of the Butcherbird Project development in Western Australia.

XTEK Ltd (ASX:XTE) enjoyed a strong September quarter, completing first deliveries of the XTclave™ plates, enhancing XTclave™ manufacturing capabilities in South Australia and furthering commercialisation goals with orders from the US Department of Defense as well as the Australian Defence Force.

Archer Materials Ltd (ASX:AXE) is trading about 9% higher intra-day after developing a computational quantum mechanical theory that accurately models the behaviour of the qubit material at the core of Archer’s 12CQ quantum computing qubit processor (chip).

Pantoro Ltd‘s (ASX:PNR) definitive feasibility study (DFS) for phase one of the restart of operations at Norseman Gold Project confirms a financially robust seven-year mine life for the project.

Eclipse Metals Ltd (ASX:EPM) has intersected manganese mineralisation in all holes of a second phase diamond drilling program at Amamoor prospect within Mary Valley Manganese Project in Queensland.

MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) has completed its first-ever shipments of the Mercury Pharma line, which includes high THC products, directly to patients in Brazil through a binding supply and distribution agreement with ONIX Empreendimentos e Participações.

Argonaut Resources NL (ASX:ARE) is overwhelmed by the response to its share purchase plan which has closed early and more than twice oversubscribed with the target subsequently increased to $2.5 million from $1.2 million.