• FTSE 100 falls 14 points
  • 88 Energy Limited doubles in price to the mystification of its board
  • Tiger Royalties soars as its subsidiary receives cash commitment

Heading into the last hour of trading, the FTSE 100 was languishing in the red, albeit not by much.

London’s index of leading shares was down 14 points (0.2%) at 6,747.

88 Energy Limited (LON:88E) was the day’s tp risers, almost doubling in price.

I’d love to tell you why but as the directors of the company have no idea why the shares are on the rise, what chance do I have?

Tiger Royalties and Investments PLC (LON:TIR), up 55% at 0.775p, was the second-best performer after an update on its 51%-owned subsidiary, African Pioneer, which has received a cash injection from Sandfire Resources.

 

3.10pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Lexaria Bioscience Corp (CSE:LXX) (OTCMKTS:LXRP) updates on progress of its DehydraTECH CBD studies to treat high blood pressure

ImagineAR Inc (CSE:IP) (OTCQB:IPNFF) (FRA:GMS1) says Oasis Digital Studios to offer AR-enhanced NFTs to the entertainment and lifestyle sectors through new partnership

Blackrock Gold Corp (CVE:BRC) to change its name to better reflect the silver dominant nature of its flagship Tonopah West project in Nevada

Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc’s (TSE:TBP) (OTCQB:TBPMF) (FRA:JAM1) THC-based prescription drug completes Health Canada’s New Drug Submission screening phase

Loop Insights Inc (CVE:MTRX) (OTCQB:RACMF) successfully deploys biggest venue bubble platform at the NCAA’s Big West Conference Championship in Las Vegas

District Metals Corp (CVE:DMX) (OTCMKTS:MKVNF) (FRA:DFPP) excited as it kicks off 5,000m drill program at Tomtebo property, Sweden

American Resources Corp (NASDAQ:AREC) (NYSE:REX) (FRA:RX3) appoints long-time mining operator as president of American Carbon subsidiary

Benchmark Metals Inc (CVE:BNCH) (OTCQB:CYRTF) (FRA:87CA) hails drill results from Cliff Creek North zone at Lawyers project, which shows deep mineralization

NetCents Technology Inc (CSE:NC) (FRA:26N) (OTCQB:NTTCF) says interest from its merchant base following its entry into the Non-Fungible Tokens space has exceeded all initial expectations

The Parent Company (NEO:GRAM.U) (OTCQX:GRAMF) sees its FY2020 unaudited revenue surge 76% to US$188M as cannabis sales momentum builds

2.25pm: Gains all but fizzled out

London’s gains have all but disappeared, with the weakness of resource stocks largely responsible.

The FTSE 100 was up one point at 6,762, as inflation fears returned to haunt investors.

“NY Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey rose to 17.4 in March from 12.5 in February, which was ahead of expectations and the best reading in 8 months. Of note was the inflation component: ‘Input price increases continued to pick up, rising at the fastest pace in nearly a decade and selling prices increased significantly.’ The report added that: ‘Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, anticipating significant increases in employment,” said Neil Wilson at markets.com.

If things are a bit dull on the FTSE 100 front, there has been a bit more drama on the FTSE 250, where doorstep lender – a pre-coronavirus description if ever there was one – Providential Financial PLC (LON:PFG) lost a quarter of its value after it revealed it is facing a regulatory inquiry into its Satsuma loans business after the number of complaints from customers surged during the lockdown.

Annual results from HG Capital Trust PLC (LON:HGT) sent the shares tumbling 7.0% to 320.5p despite the trust boasting a 24% increase in 2020. The shares have doubled over the last year and this may just have been a case of people taking profits off the table.

Ascential PLC (LON:ASCL) failed to live up to its name, diving 6.0% to 348.8p after it reported a wider annual pretax loss as Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions led to lower revenue from its events and strategic advisory businesses.

1.45pm: Wall Street mixed at the opening bell

Wall Street’s main indices started Monday’s session on a mixed footing, however, stocks were mostly higher as US stimulus cheques began to trickle into American bank accounts.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.4% at 32,910 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.09% at 3,946. The Nasdaq was the outlier as it was down 0.04% at 13,307.

The sedate start came despite some upbeat data from the New York Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey, which rose to 17.4 in March from 12.5 in February, ahead of market expectations and the best reading for the index in eight months.

Meanwhile, shares in electric car maker Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) were down 0.3% at US$691.54 in early trading after a somewhat bizarre SEC filing proclaiming that Elon Musk had anointed himself as the company’s “Technoking”.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 had given up some of its gains in mid-afternoon and was up 8 points at 6,769 at around 1.45pm.

11.42am: US indices to open higher

The signing off last week on the US stimulus package by lawmakers has induced a sense of restrained optimism in US markets.

Spread betting quotes indicate the Dow Jones industrial average will open 113 points higher at 32,892 while the broader-based S&P 500 is tipped to climb 9 points to 3,952.

The Nasdaq 100, which unlike the other two indices lost ground on Friday, is expected to recover its mojo and advance 43 points to 12,980.

“With the Nasdaq having suffered steep losses on Friday, futures point towards a positive start to the week for the recently hard-hit tech sector. The past week has shown how the rotation between value and growth is likely to be a volatile one, and while we are looking at a likely rebound in tech today, there is also a significant chance of another sharp move lower before long,” said Joshua Mahony, the senior market analyst at IG.

The price of Bitcoin reached a record US$60,000 over the weekend but the cryptocurrency is down by just under 7% today as profit-takers move in,

On the US macroeconomic front, the highlight is the Empire State manufacturing index, where analysts are expecting a reading of 14.5 for March, up from 12.1 in February.

Closer to home, the FTSE 100 has moved into defending a one-nil lead mode, with its 23 point gain at 6,785 little different from what it was.

What is different is British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines SA (LON:IAG) slotting into second place on the list of Footsie risers as investors begin to focus once more on the success of the UK vaccination programme and the prospect of passenger numbers rising in the near future.

IAG is up 2.8% at 218.3p, faring slightly better than industrial conglomerate Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRS), the owner of aerospace and automotive engineer GKN, which is up 2.1% at 182.3p.

Telecoms giant BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) is 1.6% higher at 139.5p despite reports over the weekend that the Communication Workers Union is considering calling a vote on strike action over the group’s redundancy plans.

9.45am: Reasons to be cheerful

Investors could be heard humming Bing Crosby’s “Accentuate the Positive” in early deals on Monday.

The FTSE 100 was up 28 points (0.4%) at 6,790, despite the dead weight of oils and housebuilders.

“It is like the markets have remembered to be happy about economic recovery again. For a time the focus was so fixed on accompanying inflation risks, the upside from a rebound in the economy as countries reopen was lost,” said AJ Bell investment director, Russ Mould.

“Impressive growth figures from China and the passage of Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion stimulus package in the US helped briefly launch the FTSE 100 over the 6,800 mark for the first time since January on Monday morning.

“The scale of China’s recovery from the pandemic, which beat analysts’ expectations, offers an imperfect trailer for what might happen when there is a full reopening in the West.

“Those concerns over rising prices haven’t disappeared entirely though, with bond yields still elevated and sentiment remains fragile,2 he added.

Industrial production growth in China stood at 35.1% (year-on-year) in the first two months of the year, from 7.3% in December. The consensus forecast was for growth of 32.2%.

“Value-added of industry rose just 0.7% m/m in both January and February, however, down from 1.1% in December,2 said Daiwa Capital Markets.

“Exports shot up, and these data tend to be more reliable than the m/m value-added figures, which lack volatility. Anecdotal reports also suggest that more factories than usual stayed open through the Lunar New Year holiday. Overall, we reckon the performance on the ground was stronger than the m/m [month-on-month] figures suggest,” Daiwa added.

The price of Brent crude for May delivery was 54 cents higher at US$69.76 but that did not stop oil giants BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) from falling 1.2% and 0.9% respectively.

Elsewhere on the futures markets, the price of gold was up US$9 (0.5%) at US$1,728.80 an ounce while the price of silver was up 1.1%, providing a lift for precious metals miner, Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES), which was up 2.1% at 950.4p.

8.45am: Markets gets respite from worrying about inflation

The FTSE 100 set aside inflation worries to focus on the positives – a successful vaccine roll-out and a potential booster from America’s US$1.9 trillion pandemic bail-out package.

In Asia earlier, the regional markets, though broadly higher, were still a little wary of the threat of rising prices.

The UK, which has tended to head in the opposite direction to the world’s main bourses, may be the beneficiary of wholesale bargain-hunting in coming weeks, according to Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“The prospects for a strong rebound has also seen the continuation of the rotation theme, with more traditional and cyclical stocks the subject of renewed investor interest, and to some extent at the expense of the previously all-firing growth stocks, and big tech in particular,” he explained.

Shares in Flutter Entertainment (LON:FLTR) flew 7.1% higher after the gaming group confirmed it was mulling a US IPO for a small portion of its FanDuel business. Fellow sports betting giant Entain (LON:ENT) rose 2.6% in Flutter’s wake.

BT Group (LON:BT.A) was also an early riser, up 2%, amid weekend reports it may be allowed by regulators to make a decent rate of return on the massive fibre investment made by its Openreach regulated business.

The morning’s big faller was Provident Financial (LON:PFG), which dropped 22% after threatening to put its home credit division into administration in a stand-off over compensation claims against the business.

Shares in HG Capital Trust (LON:HGT) fell 9% after the annual results revealed its net asset value had weakened in the first two months of 2021.

6.50 am: Positive start predicted 

The FTSE 100 looks likely to make a positive start to the trading week, largely ignoring the bout of the jitters experienced by Asia’s main markets.

The big bourses in the region succumbed to renewed worries over inflation stoked by America’s latest stimulus programme and a vaccine-led rapid rebound in economic growth.

The 10-year Treasury yield is seen as indicative of this growing anxiety and it remained stubbornly above 1.6%.

A sharp rise in Chinese retail sales, rather than placating the market, simply further played into the narrative around global pricing pressure.

“The inflation genie I mentioned on Friday found life rather uncomfortable in its bottle, it appears, as US yields shot higher last week,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Notably, the long end of the curve steepened markedly, and for all the noise surrounding the rise in 10-year yields, the 30-years was where the real action was.”

Back here in the UK, it looks set to be another busy week for corporate news with updates from Ocado (LON:OCD), Greggs (LON:GRG) and Fevertree (LON:FVR) among the pick of the bunch.

On the macro front, market watchers will also be keenly eyeing the commentary from monthly meetings of both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.

Around the markets

  • Pound worth US$1.3903 (-0.15%)
  • Bitcoin US$59,135.75 (-2.445)
  • Gold US$1,720.90 (flat)
  • Brent crude US$69.53 (+0.45)

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly lower on Monday ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting in the US.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 0.39% while the Shanghai Composite in China slipped 1.67%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.17% but South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.20%.

Shares in Australia were flat, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.09% higher.

READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE

Proactive Australia news:

Theta Gold Mines Ltd (ASX:TGM) (OTCMKTS:TGMGF) plans to use A$3.13 million raised in a placement to support the development of its starter open-pit gold projects in South Africa.

Technology Metals Australia Ltd (ASX:TMT) (FRA:TN6) has executed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LE System Co Ltd (LES) of Japan to assess the potential application of LES’ proprietary technology to extract vanadium and other metals from the Gabanintha Vanadium Project (GVP) waste streams.

Core Lithium Ltd’s (ASX:CXO) (OTCMKTS:CXOXF) wholly-owned Finniss Lithium Project, near Darwin in the Northern Territory, has been awarded Major Project Status (MPS) by the Australian Federal Government.

Queensland Pacific Metals Ltd (ASX:QPM) (FRA:4EA) has received positive assays for mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) produced from recent piloting test-work for the TECH project in Townsville, Queensland.

Elixinol Global Ltd (ASX:EXL) (OTCQB:ELLXF) (FRA:E8M) has entered into a binding agreement for its subsidiary Elixinol BV to acquire CannaCare Health GmbH, a company incorporated in Germany for an upfront consideration of €9 million in cash and shares.

Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX:CPH) (OTCMKTS:COPHF) (FRA:1X8) has entered into a transformational agreement to buy established psychedelics company Halucenex Life Sciences Inc, which will strengthen the company’s position in Canada, as well as lead to new market entries and commercialisation opportunities.

Creso Pharma Ltd (ASX:CPH) (OTCMKTS:COPHF) (FRA:1X8) has entered into a transformational agreement to buy established psychedelics company Halucenex Life Sciences Inc, which will strengthen the company’s position in Canada, as well as lead to new market entries and commercialisation opportunities.

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