• FTSE 100 up 48 points
  • Matt Hancock’s sister has shares in company contracted by NHS
  • Dogecoin rockets 94%

11.15am: Matt Hancock’s sister revealed to own shares in company contracted by NHS

FTSE 100 was on the rise in the late morning, climbing 48 points to 7,031.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock owns shares in a company that won a £300,000 contract with the NHS this year, it has emerged.

Last month, he declared that he owned over 15% of Topwood, which specialises in handling documents.

However, it was not mentioned that his sister Emily Gilruth also owns a stake and is a director of the firm, healthcare publication HSJ reported.

The government said Hancock acted “entirely properly” and “in accordance with the ministerial code”.

Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth tweeted “shocking but sadly I suspect no one is surprised any more at the cronyism at the heart of this government”.

9.45am: Crypto frenzy continues as Dogecoin nearly doubles in a day

FTSE 100 trimmed its gains in mid-morning, advancing 27 points to 7,010.

The market debut of Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ:COIN) has sparked a frenzy in cryptocurrency, with meme-inspired token Dogecoin rocketing 94% to US$0.2612 in a day.

Dogecoin was created in 2013 by two software engineers to be a payment system that reached a broader demographic and also a way to distance crypto from other controversial tokens such as Bitcoin.

The “unprecedented demand” caused issues on Robinhood overnight, but the trading platform had its crypto services fully restored by early morning.

Unsurprisingly, the surge was helped by Elon Musk’s endorsement on Twitter.

Coinbase closed Thursday’s session at US$322.75, which gives it a market cap of US$65.3bn.

“Now, traditional asset managers inevitably question whether Coinbase’s market cap is worth more than the double of Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange combined,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, Senior Analyst at Swissquote.

“Will traditional players go against the cryptocurrency exchange to defend their own interests and let the world know that the crypto-assets don’t have their place among them? It’s yet to be seen. But we may very well see the round two of the Retail versus Wall Street battle. Retail wanting a more affordable and democratized finance system, and Wall Street, well, willing to keep its main street dominance.”

8.40am: Ashmore an early riser despite funds fall

FTSE 100 crossed the 7,000 mark at open, buoyed by optimism in Asia after China’s economy surged 18.3% in the first quarter.

London’s main index jumped 35 points to 7,018, while sterling shed 0.3% to US$1.3737.

“The rollout of vaccine, economic recovery and policies remain the three major drivers that lead the market. When the liquidity driven valuation comes to an end, strategic focus should be put on periodic and structural opportunities of specific stocks,” said Lynda Zhou, Portfolio Manager at Fidelity International.

“Continuity of business performance may be a key factor in the bottom-up stock selecting approach and investors should give special focus to high-quality companies after the valuation correction. In terms of sectors, I am bullish on cyclical sectors that are supported by decent business performance, the consumption sector with stable business performance and the import substitution material and industrial sector that will benefit from a more centralized market.”

Back to the UK, FTSE 250-listed asset manager Ashmore PLC (LON:ASHM) added 2% to 426.1p after announcing that inflows into its equity funds helped reduce the impact of a tough period for debt and fixed income products in the three months to end-March.

Assets under management fell by US$3.1bn over the period to US$89.9bn, the group’s third quarter, comprising net inflows of US$1.5bn and a negative investment performance of US$4.6bn.

Fellow mid-cap Grafton Group PLC (LON:GFTU) remained flat at 1,103p after announcing it is mulling over the sale of some of its traditional merchanting businesses in the UK.

Proactive headlines:

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) is to deepen its relationship with ABB Schweiz AG, the provider of electric vehicle charge points, electrification and digitalisation technologies. As part of a £33.5mln fundraising by AFC, ABB will invest £3.25mln in AFC and the two will work together on integrating AFC’s alkaline fuel cell technology into ABB’s data centres offering.

NFT Investments PLC (LON:NFT) has made a strong start to life as a listed company as its shares began trading on the Aquis Exchange’s AQSE Growth Market on Friday morning.

Zoetic International PLC (LON:ZOE) said it is “particularly enthusiastic” about the launch of Chill-brand CBD smokes in the UK amid a “busy and exciting time” for the company.

Powerhouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) said James Greenstreet will retire as a director on July 7 and that it intends to appoint another non-executive director in due course. “We are very grateful to James who has completed a decade of great service to Powerhouse during which the company has made enormous progress. We wish him every success in the future with his other activities”, executive chairman Tim Yeo said in a statement.

Love Hemp Group PLC (LON:LIFE) (OTCQB:WRHLF) said non-executive independent director Charles Lamb will be stepping down from the company to focus on other business interests. “Charles has made a significant contribution to the Company over a period of successful growth and refocussing. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank him for all his efforts and support and wish him the best with future endeavours. As we move towards a listing on the [LSE] Main Market, we will be looking to strengthen our board with those who are able to provide experience and guidance to support our future growth”, Love Hemp chairman Andrew Male said in a statement.

ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) has secured its first large-scale pharma services contract for cancer cell collection system Parsortix.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) said its CEO Paul Johnson purchased on market 500,000 ordinary shares at a price of 2.39p each through his Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), £11,957 invested in total.

Great Western Mining Corporation PLC (LON:GWMO) said drilling has now commenced at the Olympic Gold Project in Mineral County Nevada.

6.35am: FTSE 100 to edge cautiously towards 7,000

US indices may have rocketed to new highs yesterday but in London, the FTSE 100 is edging arthritically towards 7,000.

Spread betting quotes suggest London’s index of leading shares won’t pass that particular milestone at the open, as it is tipped to start just 8 points higher at 6,992.

Stateside, the Dow Jones average shot up 305 points to 34,036 while the S&P 500 surged 46 points to close at 4,170.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index is 25 points firmer at 28,818 after some underwhelming gross domestic product data (GDP) from China.

China’s first-quarter GDP was up 18.3% year-on-year but this was right at the lower end of the range of forecasts from economists.

“High GDP growth in 1Q21 was a mix of base effects and genuine recovery. Without such base effects, China’s GDP growth will appear more moderate over the rest of the year. Activity data shows that China is on a recovery path. The main risk concerns chip shortages, which could limit production and export growth in the coming quarters.,” ING said.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 is 29 points to the good at 29,672.

On the home front, the busy week will end with a quarterly trading statement from fund manager Ashmore Group PLC (LON:ASHM), which will give a flavour on how the emerging markets are doing.

Ashmore will focus on assets under management (AuM), which increased 11% to US$93bn in the six months to December, helped by significant market outperformance across fixed income and equities.

Investors will want to hear how the company is dealing with operating costs after the asset manager previously said it focused on managing them to keep profits high.

The company is also looking to diversify its investment capabilities and to grow the scale of its local asset management platforms.

Around the markets

  • Sterling: US$1.3763, down 0.19 cents
  • 10-year gilt: 0.739%, down 6.73 basis points
  • Gold: US$1,764.60 an ounce, down US$2.20
  • Oil: US$67.06 a barrel, up 12 cents
  • Bitcoin: US$62,076, down US$1,305

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Friday as China’s GDP surged 18.3% in the first three months of the year from a year ago.

The growth was slightly lower than expectations for a 19% increase, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.32% while the Shanghai Composite in China gained 0.63%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.11% while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.16%.

Shares in Australia were below the flatline, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.11% lower.


Proactive Australia news:

RTG Mining Inc (ASX:RTG) (TSE:RTG) (OTCMKTS:RTTGF) has welcomed the Philippines Government’s move to lift a nine-year ban on new mining deals.

Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM) (FRA:4EA) has completed successful bench-scale test-work to produce nickel sulphate from the nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) produced at its pilot plant operations.

Twenty Seven Co Ltd’s (ASX:TSC) (FRA:U9V) review of historical soil geochemistry, combined with the reprocessing of open file historical geophysical surveys, has confirmed the presence of favourable structural settings at Yarbu Gold Project which warrant first-pass exploration investigation.

Corazon Mining Ltd‘s (ASX:CZN) first phase 2021 drilling campaign at Lynn Lake Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Sulphide Project in Manitoba Province, Canada, has intersected favourable host rocks and extensive indications of magmatic nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation.

Theta Gold Mines Ltd (ASX:TGM) (OTCMKTS:TGMGF) looks set to become a key player in the South African mining industry through plans to begin operations at open pit and underground mines in the Eastern Transvaal Gold Fields.

FYI Resources Ltd (ASX:FYI) recently released an updated DFS for its Cadoux Kwinana HPA Project, with outstanding project economics that further improve what was already a robust case, according to Foster Stockbroking.

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