Home Britain FTSE 100 nudges higher as employment data springs few unwelcome surprises

FTSE 100 nudges higher as employment data springs few unwelcome surprises

  • FTSE 100 up 21 points
  • UK payrolls down 36,000 month-on-month
  • Ocado higher after trading update

8.55am: Gains for Footsie

The FTSE 100 opened in positive territory on Tuesday with traders drawing crumbs of comfort from some outwardly lacklustre employment data.

London's blue-chip index started 21 points to the good at 6,048.02.

The UK economy has shed almost 700,000 jobs since March, with a further five million people still temporarily out of work. The number of people on payroll dropped month-on-month by 36,000, which was slightly alarming given the return to work across a number of sectors, including hospitality.

Commenting on the data, Office for National Statistics director Darren Morgan said: “Some effects of the pandemic on the labour market were beginning to unwind in July as parts of the economy reopened. Fewer workers were away on furlough and average hours rose. The number of job vacancies continued to recover into August, too."

“Nonetheless, with the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work,” he added.

On the market, the switch to online shopping and the move to stock Marks & Spencer rather than Waitrose lines bolstered the financial performance of Ocado (LON:OCDO). It rose 4.6% in the wake of its latest trading statement.

A raft of broker upgrades saw the miners rise up the ranks with gains of 1.7%-2.4%.

Goldman Sachs moved BHP (LON:BHP) to buy; JP Morgan is now a fan of Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) with an overweight rating; while Glencore (LON:GLEN) received the RBC seal of approval as it changed its call to overweight.

Better-than-expected trading from rail and bus operator FirstGroup (LON:FGP) drove the shares 11% higher.

After hours, William Hill (LON:WMH) unveiled a deal that gives it a larger foothold in the US, which was greeted warmly by the market as the shares were marked 6.7% higher. Fellow bookmaker Flutter (LON:FLTR) received a 3.7% bump.

Proactive news headlines:

Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) has signed an exclusive deal with top tier games studio Ubisoft to deliver native in-game advertising into the Hyper Scape game. Hyper Scape is Ubisofts free-to-play, urban battle royale game, with a game mode style like Fortnite. It was launched in mid-August. Chief executive James Draper noted that Ubisoft has become a close partner of the company. Other Ubisoft games, which arent attached to todays deal, include the Tom Clancy franchise of games titles, Watch Dogs, Just Dance, Assassins Creed, and Far Cry. Bidstack will now deliver in-game ads across PC and console, Xbox and Playstation, versions of the game.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has signed a deal with an unnamed US company for the “large scale manufacture and commercialisation” of a line of its SweetBiotix natural alternatives to sugar. The new partner, whose identity is being kept confidential to protect its launch plans, has been granted an exclusive worldwide licence. In return, it will bear the product manufacturing and marketing costs of the roll-out and all future expenditure for a “number” of products. OptiBiotix said it will receive a “modest six-figure payment” on signing the agreement and at 12 monthly intervals until product launch.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR) (ASX:THR) has raised just over £1mln from a fundraising round in which key investors and directors featured heavily. Metal Tiger (LON:MTR), the well-known boutique mining finance house that has supported Thor in the past, came in for £150,000, while Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) invested £138,000, subject to shareholder approval. Broker SI Capital also invested, as did company directors Mick Billing and Mark McGeough.

Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT) (LON:AMYT) looks set to receive orphan designation for its preclinical gene therapy for the rare skin condition dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, which would provide the company with regulatory and financial incentives. A European Medicines Agency (EMA) committee has delivered whats called a “positive opinion” on the drug candidate, which is normally followed 30 days later by full ratification. Orphan status is designed to aid the development and sign-off of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting no more than five in 10,000 people. Incentives include ten years EU exclusivity following approval.

Mkango Resources Ltd (LON:MKA) (CVE:MKA) said it has discovered significant showings of titanium dioxide mineralisation in a soil sampling and auger drilling programme at its 869 square kilometre Mchinji licence in Malawi. “Mkango is focused on developing the Songwe rare earth deposit in Phalombe district in Malawi and is looking forward to completing the feasibility study,” Mkangos president, Alexander Lemon said in a statement. “We are very pleased to add this new rutile and ilmenite discovery to our portfolio of projects in Malawi. These early-stage results show similarities in terms of saprolite-hosted mineralisation to the recent rutile discoveries made on the adjoining Sovereign Metals Ltd licence to the east, and suggest the potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits within Mkango's large licence area, in what could potentially be a new province of rutile mineralisation."

Emmerson PLC (LON:EML) has highlighted “excellent progress” at its Khemisset potash project in Morocco at what it said is a “pivotal time” for the company. The group noted that multiple work streams are currently in progress to further de-risk the project and provide confidence in its finance and due diligence processes, including geological work that will prepare for and finalise the scope of general site investigation as well as a further seismic survey and additional drilling to further prove out early mining blocks. Emmerson also said engagement with potential strategic partners, debt providers and anchor investors is “proceeding well”, with multiple opportunities being investigated and due diligence processes now underway.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO) has reported record revenue growth in the first half of its current year and reiterated its expectation that end-user spending will hit £2bn by the end of the year. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the mobile commerce specialist reported revenues of £4.77mln, up 50% year-on-year, while adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) came in at £1.09mln, more than double the entire 2019 EBITDA of £0.45mln. The company also said end-user spend in the first half was £743mln and “remains on track” to reach £2bn in the year.

Location Sciences Group PLC, (LON:LSAI), the mobile advertising verification group, boosted its revenues and cut losses in the first half of 2020 in spite of widespread coronavirus disruption. Mark Slade, the company's chief executive, said he was encouraged by the progress over the half-year in the face of the problems caused by lockdown restrictions. The group won its first client for the Verify Audience platform earlier this month. Revenue over the six months to June 30, 2020, increased by 43% to £650,000 while its underlying losses (EBITDA) dropped to £335,000 from £901,000.

Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) has reported narrower losses and higher revenues in its first half as it said the rise in home working and internet use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has emphasised the relevance of its services and boosted order intake in the period. For the six months ended June 30, 2020, the AIM-listed group posted a pre-tax loss of US$1.2mln, narrowed from a US$1.9mln loss in the prior year, while revenues jumped 48% to US$6.2mln. Annualised recurring revenues also surged 54% to US$8.8mln. The company also noted that revenues from its DDoS protection-as-a-service contracts had more than doubled to US$1.2mln from US$0.5mln last year.

Filta Group Holdings PLC (LON:FLTA), the commercial kitchen services specialist, said sales continued to recover in July as restaurants reopened after the coronavirus (COVID-10) pandemic lockdown. Month on month revenues grew 40% in each of June and July, the AIM-listed group said, though it added that it is mindful of the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19 disruption. Revenues in the half-year to June 30, 2020, were £8.3mln (2019: £12.2m) as, after a good first quarter, COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions had a significant impact.

Eden Research PLC (LON:EDEN) has announced that the patent behind its Sustaine encapsulation technology has been granted in Australia, the first patent specifically covering the use of Sustaine with third party active ingredients to be granted anywhere in the world. The AIM-quoted sustainable biopesticides and plastic-free encapsulation technology company noted that the patent is for 'Encapsulation of High Potency Actives' allowing for the combination of Sustaine with a wide range of active ingredients from third parties. Sustaine microcapsules are naturally-derived, biodegradable micro-spheres produced from yeast extract, and are one of the few viable alternatives to plastic-based microencapsulation technologies which are used widely in fertilisers, encapsulated plant protection products (PPPs), seed coatings, and biocides.

Deltic Energy PLC (LON:DELT) has told investors that its recent portfolio expansion, via the UKs offshore licensing round, was “another major milestone” for the exploration company. The license awards, earlier this month, almost doubled Deltics footprint with the addition of six licences. Most of the new acreage is in the south North Sea region, where Deltic added four licences to now hold a total of ten licences. This core area for Deltic now comprises over 2,733 square kilometres of contiguous licences, spanning from the exploration close to the Breagh gas field out to the Cupertino area near the Cygnus gas field. Significantly, Deltic noted that it presently retains 100% of the project interest in these assets and as such has maximum flexibility as it seeks farm-down partnership opportunities.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) turned in a pre-tax profit of US$261,000 for the six months to June 30, 2020, with after-tax profits ringing in at US$77,000 versus losses for the corresponding period a year ago of US$1mln. The profits were due to a strong performance from the Cobre magnetite operation in the USA. The group's unrestricted cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2020, were US$533,000.

Symphony Environmental Technologies PLC (LON:SYM) said it has received notice to exercise warrants representing 5,000,000 new ordinary shares of 1p each in the company by Vincel Investment Holdings Limited. The warrants were granted on July 19, 2020. Following allotment, Vincel will be interested in 20,456,900 Symphony ordinary shares representing approximately 11.6% of the enlarged issued share capital of the company. Vincel is owned by Mrs Shruti Lohia, daughter of Mr S P Lohia, who is the chairman of Indorama Corporation, Singapore. In a statement, Michael Laurier Symphonys CEO said: "I am very pleased to see Vincel exercise these warrants as further demonstration of their confidence in Symphony and the value that our technologies can have towards helping to improve health and the environment everywhere."

Oracle Power PLC (LON:ORCP) said it has received a conversion notice from the investors in respect of a further £100,000 of the £1.5mln share subscription announced on July 9, 2020, and, accordingly, has issued to them, in aggregate, 15,684,798 new ordinary shares of 0.1p each in the capital of the company. Following the conversion, £0.9 mln remains outstanding for conversion under the share subscription.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC), the US-based owner and operator of natural gas, natural gas liquids and oil wells and midstream assets has said will pay its first-quarter 2020 dividend of 3.50 US cents per share on September 25, 2020, to those shareholders on the register on September 4, 2020. The company noted that shareholders who have elected to receive their dividends in sterling will receive an equivalent payment of 2.69p per share, based on the September 10, 2020, exchange rate of £0.76867=US$1.00.

Instem PLC (LON:INS), a leading provider of IT solutions to the global life sciences market, said it will announce results for the half-year ended June 30, 2020, on Monday, September 28, 2020. It added that the groups management will be hosting a presentation via web conference on the day of the results at 11.30am. Analysts wishing to join should register their interest by emailing [email protected] or by telephoning 020 7933 8780.

Itaconix PLC (LON:ITX) (OTCQB:ITXXF) has said it will publish its annual report for the year ended December 31, 2019, on September 30, 2020. The company also said it expects to publish its half-yearly report for the six months ended June 30, 2020, by October 31, 2020, as it utilises the permitted extension of up to one month to complete and announce half-yearly reports, as per the guidance set out in 'Inside AIM' dated June 9, 2020.

S&U PLC (LON:SUS), the motor finance and property bridging specialist, has said it will announce its half-year results for the six months ending July 31, 2020, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. It said there will be a webinar for equity analysts at 09:30 am on the day of results, hosted by Anthony Coombs, its chairman; Graham Coombs, deputy chairman; Chris Redford, group finance director; and Graham Wheeler, CEO of Advantage Finance. Investors wishing to register should contact Newgate Communications at [email protected].

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