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FTSE 100 finishes higher on Thursday as stimulus talk boosts sentiment

Britain's top share index closed the afternoon session up around 12 points at 5,789

London
  • FTSE 100 index finishes nine points higher
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announces new coronavirus support package
  • Miners drag Footsie lower

5pm: FTSE 100 closes ahead

FTSE 100 index turned positive going into the close and ended Thursday ahead as traders were buoyed by positive comments coming out of Washington on the stimulus package.

Britain's top share index closed the afternoon session up around nine points at 5,785. FTSE 250 added over 106 points to close at 17,894.

It came as Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, said they were "nearly there" in relation to an agreement on the coronavirus (Covid-19) relief package, which prompted a bout of pre-close buying for London.

In the US, stocks were red though. The Dow Jones shed around 16 points, while the S&P 500 lost about one point at 3,434.

"The labour market is improving but that hasn’t improved sentiment in stocks. The jobless claims reading fell to 787,000 – it’s lowest since March. The continued claims report is one week behind the jobless update and it dropped from 9.39 million to 8.37 million," noted David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

In the UK, with the furlough furlough scheme set to end this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak's plan to provide grants and wage support, announced earlier, also brought a sigh of relief for markets.

"The prospect of a vaccine in the coming months coupled with measures to lessen the damage of near-term lockdowns should provide a significantly more optimistic outlook for investors," said Joshua Mahony, at IG.

US and Canada 11.30am EST

Wall Street stocks were mixed and uninspired in early deals. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added around 18 points at 28,228. The S&P 500 gained around two points at 3,437. The tech-laden Nasdaq exchange shed around 22 at 11,462. In Toronto, the TSX index added less than one point to stand at 16,231.

4.10pm: Dull day for UK blue-chips despite Sunak's latest intervention

Despite the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s efforts to bring a bit of comfort to UK businesses, the FTSE 100 remained in negative territory.

Then again, the FTSE 100 is not necessarily representative of UK plc, as evidenced by the fact that mining companies such as Fresnillo (LON:FRES) and Antofagasta PLC (LON:ANTO) were among the day’s big losers; the former was down 3.4% at 1,231.5p and the latter was 1.9% lower at 1,035.

The FTSE entered the final half-hour of trading down 13 points (0.2%) at 5,763, with sentiment not helped by US indices - even the mighty NASDAQ - drifting aimlessly.

Sales of existing homes – that’s existing as opposed to imaginary or more seriously those under construction – in the US rose 9.4% to an annualised 6.54mln in September, which was a 14-year high and above the consensus forecast of 6.30mln.

“The surge in sales was accurately foreshadowed by the leap in the August pending home sales index, so it’s a bit of a mystery why the consensus was so low.” grumbled Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Prices will continue to rise rapidly, but sales likely are very close to peaking, given the flat trend in mortgage applications over the past couple months. Mortgage rates are rock-bottom, and most homebuyers are much older than the typical customer-facing employee laid off during the Covid epidemic, but lending standards have tightened. We doubt this will be enough to push activity down materially anytime soon, but we don’t expect further big gains in home sales,” he added.

Shifting back to London, the top-performing stock was collectables auctioneer Stanley Gibbons Group PLC (LON:SGI), which was up 28% at 3.65p for reasons unknown.

The second best performer was newspapers group Reach PLC (LON:RCH), which soared 24% to 101.2p after all resolutions regarding its bonus share issue were passed at its annual general meeting today.

3.30pm: Proactive North America headlines:

American Battery Metals Corporation (OTCQB:ABML) announces the appointment of David Corsaut as its chief financial officer

CytoDyn Inc (OTCQB:CYDY) taps Mahboob Rahman as chief scientific officer as it accelerates its clinical and regulatory priorities

Heritage Cannabis Holdings Corp (CSE:CANN) (OTCQX:HERTF) says both its Pura Vida and Purefarma tinctures will be available for purchase next week in the province of British Columbia

Ximen Mining (CVE:XIM) (OTCQB:XXMMF)  says rock chip sample results from Amelia property in BC show significant gold and silver

Hill Street Beverage Company Inc (CVE:BEER) (OTCMKTS:HSEEF) announces launch of its new line of cannabis-infused drinks for Canada

Loop Insights Inc (CVE:MTRX) (OTCMKTS:RACMF) and Amazon Web Services to showcase Loop’s Venue Tracing Solution at October 29 webinar

Thoughtful Brands Inc (CSE:TBI) (OTCQB:PEMTF) (FRA:1WZ1) moves into production of hemp extractions with proposed acquisition of American CBD Extraction

Fura Gems Inc (CVE:FURA) (OTCPINK:FUGMF)arranges US$2.5M bridge financing

Naturally Splendid Enterprises  Ltd (FRA:50N) (CVE:NSP) (OTCMKTS:NSPDF) says first shipping container of NATERA Plant-Based Foods has arrived from Australia

Ideanomics (NASDAQ:IDEX) acquires 15% stake in Solectrac, Inc, a California-based developer of electric tractors, for a consideration of $1.3mln

3.00pm: Wall Street tentatively steps into positive territory as traders keep one eye on stimulus talks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made soft gains at the open, improving 47 points, 0.2%, to 28,257.8. The Nasdaq Composite grew 54 points, 0.5%, to 11,542.6, and the S&P 500 increased 9 points, 0.3%, to 3,445.1.

Traders are still waiting on any news regarding a coronavirus stimulus deal between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The two sides appear closer than ever to a compromise, according to Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill, who tweeted about the talks Wednesday evening.

In subsequent tweets, Hammill added that "Differences continue to be narrowed" on health on testing and contract tracing, but that "more work needs to be done to ensure that schools are the safest places in America for children to learn."

Pelosi and Mnuchin are expected to meet again today.

2.00pm: The Footsie drifts into the red again

US first-time jobless claims fell to 787,000 last week from 842,000 the week before.

The number of people receiving pandemic unemployment assistance rose to 345,440 from 337,228 the week before.

Talking of pandemic unemployment assistance, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, Rishi Sunak, has announced what has been described by Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, as “11th-hour support for jobs”.

“The Chancellor has laid out plans for extra jobs support after the end of this month. The new iteration of the flexible furlough scheme is much more workable, and the higher self-employment grant is less of an insult to those who work for themselves,” Coles said.

“By cutting the number of hours people have to work in order to qualify, and slashing the percentage of salary employers have to cover for the hours not worked, it eases the pressure on employers with staff on flexible furlough, and could tempt them to keep more staff on after the end of the month.

“However, there’s still a risk of millions falling through the net. If they can’t bring staff back at all, unless they’re in a local lockdown, there’s a horrible likelihood we’ll see a wave of job losses,” she predicted.

Chris Sanger, the head of tax policy at accountancy firm EY, said the Job Support Scheme (JSS) has been reformed even before it starts next month, as Sunak responded to pressure to help those businesses suffering the most from lockdown restrictions.

“One area unaddressed today is the treatment of workers who are unable to work at all, due to the closure of their premises. In this situation, the worker will still only receive two-thirds of their wages. This will put them at a disadvantage to fulltime workers who are able to work one day and would receive almost three-quarters of their usual wages,” said Sanger.

“In this latest announcement, Rishi Sunak has once again demonstrated his agility in the face of the changing demands of the pandemic and his desire to limit the economic impact on all UK businesses. He has shown his ability to adapt, changing the new system amended earlier this month, even before its implementation; however, the question on many commentators’ lips will be whether yet another iteration of the furlough will be needed in the near future,” Sanger pondered.

The FTSE 100 was down 10 points (0.2%) at 5,767.

1.00pm: New support package announced in House of Commons (are you watching, US Congress?)

The UK’s finance minister, Rish Sunak, has announced his latest coronavirus (COVID-19) support package in parliament.

The measures include grants for businesses that have been affected by the tier-2 restrictions introduced by the government, a tweak to the job support scheme and extra help for the self-employed.

Earlier, the lobbying group the CBI released its industrial trends survey, which showed the total orders balance improving to -34 in October from -48 in September.

The orders balance is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents reporting that orders are lower than normal from the percentage reporting better-than-normal order levels.

Economists had expected a reading of -50.

CBI Industrial Trends - Pantheon Macroeconomics

“The pick-up in the total orders balance is a tentatively encouraging sign, especially since it is not seasonally adjusted and it has fallen by an average of six points in the previous 42 Octobers. Our seasonally adjusted version of the balance has recovered to late 2019 levels [see chart],” said Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, who said the pick-up appears to be consistent with “something approaching a V-shaped recovery in output”.

“Encouragingly, the quarterly investment intentions balance also recovered to its late 2019 level, so that it now is consistent with only a modest year-over-year decline in capex. Looking ahead, demand for UK produced goods from businesses in the EU likely will rise temporarily in November and December, due to the threat that tariffs will be imposed on UK goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In the medium-term, however, Brexit is a losing game for UK manufacturers,” Tombs suggested.

“Even in the event of a Canada-style FTA [free trade agreement], manufacturers will be burdened by customs checks, extra admin and diverging product standards. Uncertainty over the longevity of any deal also will mean that the threat of tariffs will always loom large. It remains likely, therefore, that some production and investment will gradually shift to the other side of the Channel. As a result, a sustained recovery in manufacturing output back to pre-Covid levels probably is out of reach within the next couple of years,” Tombs warned.

In the stock market, the Footsie is racing ahead – if the race you had in mind is snail racing – to 5,786, up 9 points (0.2%).

12.20pm: US indices to open mixed ahead of presidential debate

US equities are set to open little changed ahead of tonight’s election debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic Party challenger, Joe Biden.

Spread betting quotes indicate the S&P 500 is set to open little changed while the Dow Jones is expected to dip 17 points to 28,194.

The NASDAQ Composite, as is its wont, is out of step with the other two indices and is seen opening 204 points higher at 11,688 after electric car maker Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) unveiled its results last night, comfortably topping expectations of earnings per share (EPS) of 57 cents with EPS of 76 cents.

READ Tesla posts fifth consecutive quarterly profit as record revenue beats analyst expectations

As well as the presidential election debate to look forward to, traders can also continue to experience the world’s most boring spectator sport, the negotiations over the US fiscal stimulus package.

“The back and forth between the Democrats and the Republicans seems to be never-ending and traders are getting sick of the negotiations dragging on. The mood is a little downbeat because all the while that US politicians are squabbling, the health crisis is getting worse. Traders are not cutting and running from equity markets because there is a view that some sort of a package will be agreed upon eventually, the US economy needs assistance but there isn’t much hope that it will be achieved soon,” said CMC’s David Madden.

Meanwhile, alarm bells have been set jangling by accusations that Iran and Russia have attempted to interfere with the US election.

“As the US election draws closer, the warning that Russia and Iran have attempted to interfere with the US election serves as a reminder that there is still a range of scenarios that could play out come November 3,” said Saxo Bank’s Eleanor Creagh.

“Another potential complication in the offing is the rising COVID-19 case count, which continues to trend higher. According to Bloomberg, New Jersey recorded its highest case count since July, along with 10 other states, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio. Hospitalisations and ICU cases have also risen, although the silver lining, deaths are yet to follow suit,” she noted.

On the macroeconomic stage, several US economic releases are scheduled, including the latest weekly jobless claims figures, existing-home sales data and the Conference Board’s leading index for September.

In London, the morning was an indecisive one and if the FTSE 100 is still little changed – up 4 points (0.1%) at 5,780 – it is now in positive territory, rather than being modestly lower as it was for most of the morning session.

11.10am: Rentokil cleans up during lock-down

According to the latest Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, 71% of businesses said they were at no or low risk of insolvency.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) cautioned, however, that 17% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industry were at severe risk of insolvency.

In the week ending October 18, 2020, overall footfall in shops decreased to below 70% of its level in the same period of the previous year, with footfall dropping across high streets, shopping centres, retail parks and across all 10 featured countries and regions, with the largest decreases in the East of England and Northern Ireland.

Reflecting the government’s work from home/back to work/as you were advice on physical distancing, the proportion of adults in Great Britain who travelled to work during the period from October 14 – 18 fell by five percentage points to 60%.

The proportion of adults who had used a face covering in the previous week when leaving home fell slightly, by two percentage points to 96%.

The ONS will publish further breakdowns on the situations in which face coverings were worn (e.g. while driving the family several miles to test one’s eyesight) tomorrow.

The FTSE 100, which had been staging a mild rally an hour or so again, was back on the decline again, shedding 19 points (0.3%) at 5,758.

Information provider RELX PLC (LON:RELX) dipped 0.3% to 1,653p in line with the market after a trading update in which it said that its three largest business areas saw a continued improvement in underlying revenue growth rates in the third quarter.

The response to the update from pest control and laundry services provider Rentokil Initial PLC (LON:RTO) was a bit more enthusiastic, with the shares rising 3.3% to 533.8p.

Not surprisingly, its cleaning services have been in demand this year.

 

9.45am: The Footsie pares its losses

After a shaky start, London’s index of leading shares has almost recovered its equilibrium, helped by sterling’s weakness on foreign exchange markets.

The FTSE 100 was down 12 points (0.2%) at 5,764, largely as a result of the weakness of the heavily-weighted oil leviathans BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB), which are down by 2% and 1.5% respectively, despite the oil price hardening a little this morning.

On the foreign exchange markets, sterling has lost a fifth of a cent against the US dollar at US$1.3127.

“The chances of a stimulus plan being approved in the US ahead of the Presidential election looks increasingly slim and this is putting pressure on equity markets,” said AJ Bell’s Russ Mould.

“The FTSE 100 is now trading around its lowest levels since the spring amid a second wave of coronavirus, and all the economic hardship it could involve, and political uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic,” he added.

Hot on the heels of updates this week from household goods giants Reckitt Benckiser and Proctor & Gamble, we have had a third-quarter trading statement from sector peer Unilever PLC (LON:ULVR).

“Another strong set of revenue figures highlights the maintained shift from out of home to in home spend and also the trend of ‘comfort buying’; in a world where trust is in short supply, consumers are shifting back to brands which are trusted and well known. In many respects the purchasing decisions are therefore the pay-back for sustained brand investment and brand building which in some cases, like Marmite, stretches back over a century to 1902,” said Mark Lynch, a partner at corporate finance advisory firm Oghma Partners.

Unilever shares were up 1% at 4,750p.

8.55am: Another down day

The FTSE 100 continued to drift lower on Thursday morning as it took its cue from weakness on Wall Street and Asia’s main markets.

London's blue-chip benchmark fell 44 points to 5,732.08 in early trade.

Holding down international sentiment was America’s inability to agree a fresh stimulus package with any new initiative looking increasingly likely to be timed out.

Outside the United States, the International Monetary Fund had the whole Asia region in its sights, downgrading growth prospects across the board.

Closer to home, Brexit talks are resuming in London, with both sides expected to compromise on trade issues if a last gasp deal is to be done. That’s far from a given.

Chuntering over the escalation of restrictions designed to quell the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in some of England’s major cities continues to intensify.

Traders are seemingly braced for a further escalation in the lockdown protocols, which would have a further negative impact of the demonstrably struggling UK economy.

On the market, London-focused property group Shaftesbury (LON:SHB) tumbled 17% after it announced plans to raise almost £300mln in order to solidify its financial base in the face of the protracted coronavirus epidemic.

The tremors were felt higher up the food chain as Land Securities (LON:LAND) and British Land (LON:BLND) fell 3.8% and 3.5%, respectively.

Among the tiddlers, Futura Medical (LON:FUM) spiked 20% after it revealed commercial interest in its erectile dysfunction was growing.

Proactive news headlines:

4D pharma plc (LON:DDDD) is to get a cash injection of US$14.6mln through a merger with Longevity Acquisition Corporation (NASDAQ:LOAC), a special purpose acquisition company. Longevity will receive American depositary shares, to be listed on the NASADAQ exchange, representing 4D ordinary shares, on terms that assume a value of 110p per 4D share. 4D shares closed at 93.2p on Wednesday. Longevity shareholders will end up owning around 13.1% of the merged company’s equity, with 4D shareholders owning the rest.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) shares shot higher after it said it had made regulatory progress in the US and was garnering significant commercial interest for its erectile dysfunction (ED) gel. In an update, investors were told discussions were taking place with a “growing number” of potential partners interested in helping Futura exploit the commercial potential of MED3000 as an over-the-counter treatment. It said priority has been given to “certain negotiations for one specific region where discussions have advanced with parties for the exclusive marketing rights for MED3000”.

IXICO PLC (LON:IXI), the data analytics company delivering insights in neuroscience, announced that it has secured new contracts in Huntington's disease clinical trials. The contracts include retrospective analysis of data sets for three Natural History Studies in Huntington's disease with a new large pharma customer and a multicentre, open-label Phase II study in Huntington's disease with an existing large pharma customer.

OPG Ventures PLC (LON:OPG), the developer and operator of power generation assets in India, has reported a 9.5% rise in revenue in its final results for the year ended March 31, 2020. The AIM-listed firm posted full-year revenue of £154.0mln, up from £140.6 million in 2019 as total generation (including deemed) rose to 2.72 billion units from 2.71 billion units a year earlier. OPG saw its gross borrowings at the year-end reduced to £56.8mln, compared to £80.4mln as at March 31, 2019.

Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) has agreed on terms of a farm-out deal with Capstone Mining Corp (TSX:CS) for its Donovan 2 copper-gold project in Mexico. Capstone started due diligence last month as part of an exclusivity agreement and has now firmed that up into a full earn-out deal that could give it an 80% stake in the project through funding it to a pre-feasibility study. In the first stage, Capstone will take a 65% stake through a cash payment of US$290,000 to Alien over three years plus US$3.6mln of exploration expenditure.

genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) said it is now generating “very promising data” from its coronavirus (COVID-19) test, targeted for release in the first quarter of next year, having recently completed the assay design. Using the point-of-care technology, results can be generated in 15 minutes for a positive sample, while a negative takes five minutes longer. The kit has been developed to detect SARS-CoV-2 amplified directly from saliva without the need to extract viral RNA.

Gaming Realms PLC (LON:GMR), which develops and licenses mobile devices-focused gaming content, has launched its Slingo Originals content with Paddy Power Betfair. Part of Flutter Entertainment PLC (LON:FLTR), Paddy Power Betfair is featuring Gaming Realms’ Slingo Originals content on its Paddy Power Bingo and Betfair Casino site, with Paddy Power Games and Betfair Bingo to follow shortly. Gaming Realms’ Slingo portfolio will be distributed through the company's aggregation partner, Relax Gaming.

Zephyr Energy PLC (LON:ZPHR) is counting down to spudding of the US government-funded State 16-2 well in Utah, with the programme slated to start before the end of 2020. The company is working with a project team led by University of Utah's Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI), as previously announced, and, the project is sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Energy Technology Laboratory. It means that the first US$2mln of well spending is funded via a DOE grant, and up to US$1mln of incremental funding will be covered by Zephyr - using funds raised in its recent oversubscribed placing.

Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) has been accepted onto the UK Government G-Cloud framework version 12 in the 'cloud software' and 'cloud support' categories. The framework enables public sector organisations to procure Crossword’s Rizikon Assurance and Consulting cyber-risk management tools via the digital marketplace run by Crown Commercial Services.

Pembridge Resources PLC (LON:PERE) said a higher copper price gave a boost to its Minto mine in Canada in the three months to end September 2020. The mine was also helped by access to additional funding under the US$12.5mln prepayment facility with Sumitomo, said Gati Al-Jebouri, Pembridge’s chief executive and chairman. Payments of US$18.4mln were received by Minto from Sumitomo (Q2: US$9.8mln) during the period.

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) told investors it has extended the deadline for closing its transaction with partner and associate Cobre for the Kalahari Metals venture. Presently, Metal Tiger owns a 62.17% interest in Kalahari Metals Limited (KML) and owns an 18.79% shareholding in Cobre. Cobre is set to acquire 51% of KML and the deadline for the transactions has been moved to December 20, 2020, to allow for the completion of due diligence.

Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has confirmed that the flotation plant at its at Baita Plai mine in Romania is now fully operational and producing concentrate. The AIM-listed company also said that it is on track to surpass its initial copper sales delivery target included in the project production and associated operational cashflow forecasts announced on September 7, 2020, and expects to complete the initial production of copper concentrate by the end of October 2020.

88 Energy Limited (LON:88E) has highlighted its progress in the past quarter, with the recently enlarged Alaska explorer now steering towards two new farm-outs – both, designed to secure new drill catalysts for 2021 and beyond. 88 Energy completed its merger with XCD Energy this summer to acquire the Project Peregrine where, as announced last month, new seismic data analysis boosted prospects. At the same time, the company has retaken control of the ‘Area A’ portion of Project Icewine and recently expanded its stakeholding to 75%.

Tower Resources PLC’s (LON:TRP) chief executive Jeremy Asher presented at the virtual Africa Upstream, LNG and Gas Summit on Thursday. A copy of his presentation will be added to the company’s website - https://www.towerresources.co.uk.

Solo Oil has relaunched under its new name Scirocco Energy PLC  (LON:SCIR) with the shares now trading under the ticker symbol SCIR. The company said it will give a relaunch webcast on November 2, 2020, as its new website goes live.

Walls & Futures REIT PLC (LON:WAFR), the ethical housing investor and developer, has announced that at its annual general meeting held on Wednesday, all resolutions were duly passed.

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP), the developer of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease, has said its annual general meeting (AGM) will take place on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 2.00pm GMT. The company said it continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely, including UK Government legislation and guidance, and will continue to do so in the lead up to the AGM. In line with the current UK Government advice, the group’s board has taken the decision that shareholders, advisers and other guests will not be allowed to attend the AGM in person and anyone seeking to attend the AGM will not be permitted entry. In light of these measures, the board strongly encourages shareholders to vote by proxy in accordance with the instructions in the Notice of AGM.

6.50am: Further falls predicted

The FTSE 100 is set to start Thursday on the back foot as the coronavirus pandemic and politics continue to monopolise the attention of traders.

CFD and spreadbetting firm IG calls the London benchmark 20 points lower, making the price 5,750 to 5,753 with just over an hour to go until the open.

It comes after another negative close on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrials Average finished Wednesday some 97 points or 0.35% lower at 28,210. The S&P 500 marked a 0.22% decline to close at 2,435 and the Nasdaq Composite scratched off 0.28% to end the day at 3,435. Meanwhile, the small-cap Russell 2000 index slipped 0.86% to 1,603.

“We saw another day of losses for European and US markets yesterday as investor impatience with the phoney war going on between the Democrats and Republicans continued over the prospect of a stimulus plan before the November 3 US election,” said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets.

“This scepticism looks set to spill over into this morning as Asia stocks also fell sharply, though a sharp IMF downgrade for the region also didn’t help sentiment, and this negative tone looks set to continue this morning with markets in Europe also set to open lower."

The analyst added: “As far as a US stimulus package is concerned the penny appears to be finally dropping that there is unlikely to be a plan that will be able to get past the Republicans in the US Senate, even if Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin were able to put something down on paper, in their various short phone calls over the past few days.”

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 167 points or 0.7% trading at 23,471 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng moved 0.11% lower at 24,726., and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.66% to 3,303.

Around the market:

  • The pound: US$1.3135, down 0.11%
  • Gold: US$1,915 per ounce, down 0.5%
  • Silver: US$24.85 per ounce, down 0.88%
  • Brent crude: US$41.50 per barrel, down 3.8%
  • WTI crude: US$39.77 per barrel, down 4.6%
  • Bitcoin: US$12,781, up 4.4%

6.45am: Early Markets - Asia/Australia

Asia-Pacific shares were lower on Thursday as the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday downgraded its growth forecast for the region.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.53% while South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.72%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower by 0.48% but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was marginally higher, rising 0.04%.

Shares in Australia declined, with the S&P/ASX 200 off 0.3%.

 READ OUR ASX REPORT HERE

Proactive Australia news:

Piedmont Lithium Ltd (ASX:PLL) (NASDAQ:PLL) has completed an underwritten US public offering of 2 million of its American Depositary Shares (ADS) each representing 100 of its ordinary shares at an issue price of US$25 per ADS for gross proceeds of US$50 million (A$70.6 million).

Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) has signed an MOU with UK-based GSA Environmental Ltd (GSAe) for commercial and technical collaboration with the aim of value-adding to AVL’s namesake project through additional vanadium sources and economies of scale.

Comet Resources Limited (ASX:CRL) has finalised an exploration access agreement (EAA) for a large portion of privately held land within Exploration Licence 8492, which hosts the highly prospective Barraba Copper Project in New South Wales.

Euro Manganese Inc (ASX:EMN) (CVE:EMN) has received strong support for an oversubscribed private placement to raise C$11.4 million (A$12 million) which will further progress development of the flagship Chvaletice Manganese Project in the Czech Republic.

BlackEarth Minerals NL (ASX:BEM) has identified 13 nickel-copper-PGE targets after completing the first phase of exploration on the Donnelly River Project, 240 kilometres south of Perth, Western Australia.

Sipa Resources Ltd (ASX:SRI) has started a 1,500-metre reverse circulation (RC) drilling program to test base metal targets at the Wolfe Basin Project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

CVCheck Ltd’s (ASX:CV1) has signed another international wholesale customer in UK-headquartered Vero Screening Ltd for its best-of-breed screening and verification solution.

Carnavale Resources Limited (ASX:CAV) is moving swiftly forward with a program of modern and structured exploration at the expanded Kookynie high-grade gold project in the Leonora region of WA's Eastern Goldfields.

archTIS Ltd (ASX:AR9) achieved a strong September quarter securing $5 million in new revenue contracts as the technology company focused on protecting sensitive information executes a $15 million sales pipeline.

Pan Asia Metals Limited (ASX:PAM) has been formally awarded Special Prospecting Licence TSPL 2/2563 for the Khao Soon Tungsten Project in Thailand and is now able to resume its work program on the area.

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