- FTSE 100 up 17 points
- NMC Health firmer after flurry of board resignations
- Sylvania Platinum rises after announcing new CEO
2.55pm: Catatonia continues
Without a lead from US markets, which are closed today for Presidents Day, UK blue-chips have gone into a vegetative state.
The FTSE 100 was up 17 points at 7,426, all of four points lower than it was an hour earlier.
“Equity markets are moderately higher this afternoon as the largely positive move in Asia overnight lifted sentiment in Europe. Stock markets in China surged on the back of the chatter the Chinese authorities will step in and give assistance to the economy. The Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) cut the interest rate on one-year loans in a bid to support credit markets, which should help commerce in the country,” said David Madden at CMC Markets.
“Sadly the health crisis is deepening in China but traders are reacting to the intervention by the Beijing administration,” he added.
Company founder B R Shetty, currently under a cloud for not accurately reporting his shareholding in the company and two other doctors have resigned from the NMC board with immediate effect.
The shares were up 1.1% at 783.8p.
12.45pm: Subdued activity
A subdued morning has turned into a subdued afternoon with the bulls drawing some comfort from the Chinese authorities' pledge to ginger-up the economy.
The FTSE 100 was up 22 points (0.3%) at 7,431 but it has been stuck on or around that level for a few hours now.
Elsewhere in the mining sector, Sylvania Platinum Limited (LON:SLP) is having a better time of it, advancing 8.8% to 53.3p after it announced Johannes Jacobus as managing director and chief executive officer of the company in succession to Terry McConnachie, who is retiring at the end of the month.
In the drugs sector, Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) saw its shares jump higher as the developer of next-generation proton therapy systems for cancer treatment announced a deal with the Mediterranean Hospital of Limassol in Cyprus.
The shares were up 8.3%.
11.30am: Investors continue to pile into Novacyt
After getting off to a decent start the FTSE 100 has flat-lined since about 9.00am on a day when US and Canadian markets are closed.
The Footsie was up 16 points (0.2%) at 7,425.
On Friday, the company said it expects to launch a CE-Mark approved COVID-19 virus test this week.
The shares were up 26% this morning at 124.5p; a month ago, when few us had heard of the virus, you could have bought the shares for 15.5p.
9.30am: Early gains consolidated; housebuilders wanted after house price bounce
The Footsie made an early dart to 7,450 before backing off, although the index remains higher on the day, largely thanks to miners.
London's index of leading shares was up 20 points (0.3%) at 7,429, 21 points below its high point for the day.
“It seemed Europe chose to follow in the footsteps of the Shanghai Composite rather than the rest of the Asian markets, shaking off the news that Japans economy contracted by an eye-watering 1.6% in the fourth quarter,” reported Connor Campbell at Spreadex.
“The suggestion that the Bank of Japan is ready to step in if the coronavirus significantly affects the countrys economy appeared to mitigate the blow of that GDP reading, capping the Nikkeis losses at 0.7%.
“Ditto the hopes that Beijing is willing to pump in more stimulus to try and bubble-wrap China from the full impact of the outbreak – which now stands at 70,548 cases and 1,770 deaths on the mainland,” he added.
Stocks deemed to benefit most from any Beijing stimulus – miners plus the Russian steel-maker Evraz PLC (LON:EVR) – were to the fore, but housebuilder Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN), up 1.1%, was rubbing shoulders with them after the release of the latest Rightmove survey on UK house prices.
The property listings website operator said that the average asking price of a property being put on the market increased by 0.8% in January.
“The average price of newly-marketed property is just £40 below its all-time high from June 2018, with the typically busy spring market still to come,” noted Rightmove's Miles Shipside.
“This means that spring buyers are likely to be faced with the highest average asking prices ever seen in Britain,” he added.
Rightmove predicts 'boom' Spring market as sales agreed leap by 12.3% ????https://t.co/6YszB6vjMg #estateagents #Cheltenham #Gloucestershire #MondayMotivation #mondaythoughts pic.twitter.com/a1zjKqdhhq
— Peter Ball & Co (@PeterBallandCo) February 17, 2020
8.25am: Footsie find gains
The FTSE 100 opened in positive territory with traders prioritising hopes for Chinas fiscal stimulus programme ahead of the potential economic problems emanating from the spread of the coronavirus.
A further 105 fatalities were added to the list by the Beijing authorities, taking the number dead so far to 1,770.
The index of UK blue-chips opened 19 points to the good at 7,428.41
Asian markets were mixed, however, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index down around 1.5% at one point after data showed the country's economy contracted at the fastest pace since Shinzo Abe became prime minister in 2012.
But it is expected to be a quiet opening to the week overall with US markets today closed for the Presidents Day holiday.
On the London market, miners were well bid early on following resource-hungry Chinas decision to lend support to the economy. BHP Billiton (LON:BHP) led the pack, rising 1.5% ahead of its latest results, due on Tuesday.
The top faller was aero-engineer Meggitt (LON:MGGT), which fell 3.3% after Citigroup cut its recommendation to neutral from buy.
Tullow Oil (LON:TLW) was also in the doghouse – off 5.7% – after drilling a dud well off the coast of Peru.
Finally, fund manager Jupiter (LON:JUP) led the second-liners with a 4.6% gain after the market applauded its buy and build strategy, which will kick off with the £370mln acquisition of Merion Global Investors.
Proactive news headlines:
Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) saw its shares jump higher on Monday as the developer of next-generation proton therapy systems for cancer treatment announced a deal with the Mediterranean Hospital of Limassol in Cyprus. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said the hospital has agreed to purchase a LIGHT system for €50mln.
ReNeuron Group PLC (LON:RENE), a global leader in the development of cell-based therapeutics, has announced the publication in a peer-reviewed journal of positive clinical data from the PISCES II Phase 2a clinical trial of its CTX stem cell therapy candidate for disability resulting from stroke. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said data from the study were originally presented by Professor Keith Muir at the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference 2018 in January 2018, having been announced by the company in October 2017.
Ormonde Mining plc (LON:ORM) has completed the disposal of its 30% interest in the Barruecopardo tungsten mine and has received the €6mln in cash due as consideration. Following the transaction, Michael Donoghue and John Carroll have retired from the board and the company. Jonathan Henry, previously a non-executive director, is appointed executive chairman, while Tim Livesy and Richard Brown are appointed non-executive directors.
OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has signed a distributor agreement with Advanced NutriSolutions Inc./Select Ingredient covering the United States and Canada. Under the terms of the agreement, Advanced NutriSolutions Inc./Select Ingredient will supply OptiBiotix's cholesterol and blood pressure-reducing probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum LPLDL, under an exclusive licence, to customers in the United States and Canada for inclusion into dietary supplements formulation.
Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC) has revealed the results of metallurgical tests conducted on the Kun-Manie nickel sulphide project by consultant Gipronickel with a view to establishing the feasibility of generating a saleable copper concentrate. Kun-Manie is located in the Amur Oblast in the far east of Russia.
ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) said an independent study of its Parsortix system has demonstrated key advantages of the company's flagship liquid biopsy technology. The University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf has published results of work undertaken to assess the analytical and clinical performance of Parsortix in multiple metastatic (i.e. spreading) cancer types with the main emphasis on metastatic breast cancer.
Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX) has extended discussions over a possible takeover offer to 28 February from 14 February. In an announcement on Friday afternoon, the drug developer said the put up or shut up deadline for a bid by a consortium of investors has been extended for the parties to conclude ongoing discussions.
ImmuPharma PLCs (LON:IMM) portfolio firm, oncology specialist Incanthera has announced its intention to list on the NEX exchange in London before the end of February. The company, which owns a 14% stake in Incanthera, will see its stake lowered to 11.9% following admission when the company lists, which is expected around 28 February.
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has signed a joint venture agreement in respect of two prospecting licences situated in the Botswana section of the Kalahari copper belt. The first lies 30 kilometres north of MOD Resources' T3 mine development and is completely surrounded by MOD, Metal Tiger, and Sandfire licences. The second is close to the Namibian border, south of the Trans-Kalahari Highway and adjacent to a block of licences held by Kopore Metals Ltd.
Frontier IP Group PLCs (LON:FIPP) portfolio firm, Cambridge Raman Imaging Limited (CRIL), has been awarded €140,000 (£116,380) in EU funding to accelerate development of its graphene-enabled scanning microscope. CRIL, which was spun out from the University of Cambridge and Italian university Politecnico di Milano in 2018, is developing a microscope which uses graphene to modulate ultra-short pulses of light to diagnose and track cancer tumours.
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