FTSE 100 goes into reverse as US bond yields edge higher after growth figures



On Wall Street, benchmarks were mixed, with the Dow Jones losing around 15 points but the broader based S&P 500 adding nearly a point

  • FTSE 100 closes down by a whisker
  • US markets  mixed
  • BT boosted by sports unit sale talks

5.05pm: FTSE finishes in red

FTSE 100 index closed a tad lower on Thursday as first quarter GDP figures from across the pond sent negative ripples through markets.

The UK’s top share index finished down around two points, or 0.03%, at 6,961.

On Wall Street, benchmarks were mixed, with the Dow Jones losing around 15 points but the broader based S&P 500 adding nearly a point.

Gross domestic product, seen as a type of  scorecard for the US economy, rose at a 6.4% annual pace in the first three months of the 2021. Estimates had been for between 6.5% and 6.8%.

“The US economic bounceback remains on track despite a marginally lower GDP reading for the first quarter. Today’s annualised GDP reading of 6.4% fell short of estimates today, and markets evidently struggled with that fact,” said analyst Joshua Mahony at IG.

“Declines throughout US markets at the open come despite a post-earnings surge from tech giant Facebook. Nonetheless, with real GDP rising to an annualised figure of $19.1 trillion, it is highly likely that we overcome the pre-pandemic peak of $19.3 trillion by the end of Q2,” he added.

3.56pm: Markets slip from best levels

Well it seems less likely the FTSE 100 will finish above 7000.

The good US data gave a lift to markets initially, helped by the dovish words from the Federal Reserve about not turning off the money taps just yet.

But the strong growth in the US economy has also rekindled fears of rising inflation which could push the Fed into action despite what it has said so far.

US Treasury yields have moved higher as a consequence, and like clockwork, the markets have moved lower.

The FTSE 100 is now down 7.5 points or 0.11% at 6956.17.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average is virtually flat, the S&P 500 up 0.23% and the Nasdaq Composite, despite the boost from forecast beating figures from Apple and Facebook, is down 0.08%.

 Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said: “Having got off to such a good start, and US data looking so promising it’s a little surprising to see stocks slide back. However today’s gains appear to be being tempered by a sharp rise in US 10-year yields, which at the time of writing are up 7 basis points, and appear to be acting as a bit of a drag.”

Meanwhile copper has hit the $10,000 a tonne level for the first time since February 2011, on growing demand as economies reopen and pressure grows for more green initiatives. The metal is widely used in electric cars and wind turbines, for example.

That has done little for copper miner (), however, which is down 8.5p or 0.44% at 1906.5p.

3.14pm: Is a close above 7000 too much for leading index?

Will it or won’t it?

The last time the leading index hit 7000, it lasted just two days before falling back below the magic level.

This is the first time since then it has put its head above the parapet again, and it is now hovering around 7000 uncertain which way to go.

As the opening surge on Wall Street fades a little, the FTSE 100 is now at 6984.7, up 21.03 points or 0.3%. It still has time to move higher, but whether the will is there is another matter.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now up 0.26%, the S&P 500 is 0.55% better and the Nasdaq Composite has added 0.31%.

2.45pm: Proactive North America headlines:

() kick-starts development of LikidoHOME Water Heater to boost energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions

Golden Arrow Resources Corporation () (FRA:G6A) () sees significant gold intervals at the Esperanza property on the Flecha de Oro gold project in Argentina

() (OTCMKTS:INOTF) (FRA:71TA) Weather Telematics road hazard app adopted by Skelton Truck Lines

Nextleaf Solutions Ltd () () granted European patent for its closed loop cannabis extraction process

ESE Entertainment Inc () (OTCQB:ENTEF) says esports squad K1CK links up with Portuguese football club to launch worldwide FIFA 21 tournament

Green Battery Minerals Inc () (OTCMKTS:GBMIF) (FRA:BK2P) says large-scale purification process ‘going as planned’ in bid to build test battery says large-scale purification process ‘going as planned’ in bid to build test battery

PlantX Life Inc () () (OTCQB:PLTXF) launches new PlantXpress membership plan

Essex Minerals Inc () (OTCQB:ESXMF) () agrees to acquire its Australian joint venture partner KNX Resources in an all-stock deal

() (OTCPINK:CBGZF) (FRA:C3J) reports new drill results from recently identified gold vein on its Cuiú Cuiú project in Brazil

Vicinity Motor Corp () () () receives $1.6M-plus purchase agreement from Simcoe County in Ontario for four buses

() files environmental and contruction permits for lithium battery recycling pilot plant in Nevada

() () (FRA:7VM)  says drilling at Silver Cliff indicates potential for high grade zone outside current resource area

() () (FRA:4021)  announces commercial installation sale of its CO2 Delivery Solutions system to British Columbia-based licensed cultivator

Hill Street Beverage Company Inc ()expands board level talent by adding industry veterans Frank Vizcarra and Monica Zaragoza

Plurilock Security Inc () (OTCQB:PLCKF) a ends FY2020 with a strong cash position of C$1.7M as its license revenue climbs

First Mining Gold Corp () () ()options additional land package near its Springpole Gold Project

() () (FRA:NPAU) files patent protection for an implant designed to mitigate excess psychedelic dosage effects

() (OTCPINK:RFHRF) (FRA:9RR) hails latest drill results from flagship Parbec project, which extend mineralization

MedX Health Corporation () (OTCMKTS:MDXHF) (FRA:9MH) sees increased revenues for skin products in 2020 as group continues to expand internationally

American Manganese Inc () () (FRA:2AM) prepares cathode precursor for production testing as part of lithium-ion battery recycling process

NexTech AR Solutions Corp () () () says unaudited preliminary 1Q revenue and gross profit jumped by triple digits year-over-year

Loop Insights  Inc () () teams up with NielsenIQ to give brick-and-mortar retailers tools to create bespoke, data-driven customer experiences

() (NYSEAMERICAN:SVM) (FRA:S9Y) granted three new exploration permits at Ying project covering areas where ‘extensive mineralization’ has been hit

(NYSEAMERICAN:GORO) (FRA:GIH) posts first quarter net income of $2.5M and says gold production in-line with quarterly guidance

2.42pm: Wall Street opens firmly in the green

The main indices on Wall Street made a strong start to Thursday’s session as strong earnings from Apple and Facebook overnight combined with positive economic data to push stocks higher.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.57% at 34,014, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.79% to 4,216 and the Nasdaq rose 0.92% to 14,180.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was following Wall Street’s lead, rising 33 points to 6,997 at around 2.40pm.

1.46pm: US economy grows strongly

The US economy roared ahead in the first three months of the year, albeit slightly less than initial forecasts.

First quarter GDP grew at an annualised 6.4% compared to estimates of between 6.5% and 6.8%. But this was still a big increase on the 4.3% growth in the final three months of 2020, and shows the country’s economy benefiting from the government’s stimulus programme and vaccination roll-out.


Meanwhile slightly fewer than expected Americans signed up for unemployment benefits last week.


Wall Street is holding on to its gains after the figures, although the FTSE 100 has come off its best levels and is now back below 7000, up 24.69 points or 0.35% at 6988.36.

12.26pm: Tech earnings spark investor enthusiasm

Wall Street is expected to open sharply higher after dovish comments from the US Federal Reserve and bumper profits from tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook.

Apple reported record second quarter revenues of $89.58bn compared to expectations of around $77bn and a rise of more than 50%, with net income of $23.6bn.

Meanwhile Facebook’s first quarter revenue rose 48% to $26.2bn, around $3bn more than forecast, while net income rose 94% to $9.5bn.

In pre-market trading Apple is up 2.7% while Facebook has jumped 7%

So the Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to open up 177 points or 0.48% while the S&P 500 is heading for another record, up 0.71%. The tech focused Nasdaq Composite is of course outperforming both, set to open more than 1% higher to another peak.

Sophie Griffiths at Oanda said: “US futures are pointing to a stronger start, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq set to outperform. Blowout results from Apple and Facebook after the close yesterday mean that both stocks are in line for a sharp gap higher on the open.”

If investors can tear themselves away from tech, there is the small matter of the latest US economic growth figures. First quarter GDP, out at 1.30pm BST, is expected to show an annualised growth rate of 6.5% to 6.8% compared to 4.3% in the final three months of last year.

There are also the weekly jobless claims, out at the same time, which are forecast to be steady at 545,000.

Michael Hewson at CMC Markets said: “If recent data is any guide [the GDP figure] should be a very solid number, though this first iteration may not be as good as markets might look at pricing in. This is because a lot of the March data may well not be up to date. This may mean it is susceptible to upward revisions in the coming weeks.

“Irrespective of whether the number is at the lower or upper end of expectations the US economy looks set to start 2021 very much on the front foot.”

Back in the UK, and the FTSE 100 is holding onto most of the day’s gains, up 47.64 points or 0.68% at 7011.31.

11.17am: A tale of two banks

Among the many corporate comments today, there is a tale of two banks.

() is now the biggest riser in the leading index, up 7% or 34.6p to 528.4p

The Asia focused bank reported first quarter underlying profits up 18% to $1.4bn and despite the pandemic, it sees the outlook improving.

Chief executive Bill Winters said: “Our first quarter performance was strong. Economic recovery advanced in many of our markets leading to improved transaction volumes and profitability. This was particularly the case in our Financial Markets and in Wealth Management, which had its best ever quarter…

“Despite low interest rates, we expect our underlying momentum to lead to income growth in the second half of 2021.”

But the market reaction to NatWest PLC () was a different story entirely.

The bank saw profits jump by 82% to £946mln in the first quarter but after the shares hit their highest level since February on Wednesday, they have suffered from profit taking and fallen 364% or 6.4p to 197.1p. This makes them the biggest faller in the leading index.

Still, this has not disturbed the FTSE 100 which is now up 51.85 points or 0.7% to 7015.52.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “The FTSE 100 has reclaimed 7000 in early trading, shrugging off some weakness from NatWest shares in the wake of their results this morning. Stock markets have taken heart from the [US Federal Reserve], which once again poured plenty of cold water on the idea of any upcoming change in policy.

“The dialogue of the deaf goes on in markets, with the Fed patiently restating its view of future policy and investors refusing to listen; what is particularly tiresome is the knowledge that this discussion about tapering and the like will go on ahead of each meeting in the months to come, and yet no real change is likely for quite some time. Thus the Fed, which under Jerome Powell has tried to be as clear as possible, will continue to ostensibly ‘surprise’ markets by doing exactly what they said they would do, i.e. nothing. That this continues to be a talking point perhaps says more about the investing community than it does the world’s most powerful central bank.” 


10.26am: BT in discussions over sports unit

() is in the spotlight after reports it wanted to sell a stake in its sports business, which spent vast sums on football broadcasting rights.

Amazon, Disney and private equity have been tipped as potential partners.

The company issued a statement saying: “Further to media reports, BT can confirm that early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners, to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business, and help take it to the next stage in its growth. The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.”

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Maybe BT doesn’t think the breakaway European Super League is as dead as it appears to be given the company has confirmed speculation it is considering a sale of its BT Sport arm.

“While it shows Premier League games, the sports broadcaster’s crown jewels are its exclusive rights to the existing UEFA-backed competitions including the Champions League – a product which would be massively devalued if the top clubs followed through on a threat to forge out on their own.

“In reality it seems BT will only be opting for a partial sale of the division, with Amazon and Disney as well as a British broadcaster believed to be in the frame…

“By selling a bit of the business, and reducing the amount it spends on sport, BT could generate funds to help meet the massive bill it faces for investing in broadband infrastructure.”

BT shares are currently 3.45p or 2.16% higher at 163.3p.

Meanwhile the FTSE 100 seems to have hit a ceiling but is still above the 7000 level. It has added 0.62% or 42.91 points to 7006.58.

9.12am: Company results at forefront of market gains

On a busy day for company news – a typical Thursday in other words – it is no surprise that corporate announcements are dominating the market movers.

Oil heavyweight PLC () is up 1.09% or 15p at 1397.2p after it made a good start to the year, boosted by rising oil prices.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at interactive investor, commented: “Fortunately for investors these latest results come without the drama seen this time last year when Shell cut its dividend for the first time since the Second World War.

“Extreme winter weather hitting its US Texas operations has dragged on adjusted earnings, although, as with rivals, an upturn in energy prices has aided profit generation. Overall adjusted earnings of $3.23 billion have just about beaten expectations of closer to $3.1 billion..

“Shell’s strength in lower carbon liquefied natural gas, given its previous acquisition of BG Group, should not be forgotten. Last year’s decision to rebase the dividend is now freeing up cash to help tackle debt, with share buybacks potentially on the horizon. A progressive dividend policy is now being pursued, while a historic dividend yield of over 3.5% is still not derisory in a world of ultra-low interest rates.”

The top three risers are all there after reporting well received updates. (LON:SN.) continues to lead the way, up 81.5p or 5.49% to 1566.5p, following by Unilver PLC () – 3.1% or 126.5p better at 4204p – and () – 2.75% or 13.6p higher at 507.4p.

The mood has been helped by forecast-beating results after the US markets closed on Wednesday from tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook.

Overall the FTSE 100 is holding on above 7000, up 46.92 points or 0.67% at 7010.59.

8.34am: Leading shares edge above 7000 again

The FTSE 100 clambered above the 7,000-mark once again after the US Federal Reserve maintained its ultra-accommodative monetary stance.

“Last night’s Fed statement saw the US central bank acknowledge the recent improvement in US economic data, but also reiterate that they remained a long way short of the type of outcome-based data needed to alter their current policy stance, nixing any prospect of a taper in the near term,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

On a big day for corporate news, Smith & Nephew (LON:SN.), up 4.5%, provided investors with some rays of hope in the meat of its trading statement.

Unilever () was well bid after its first-quarter update as the shares rose 2.9%.

On the downside, NatWest () led the fallers with a 2.5% decline in the wake of its interim management statement. This was more like a profit-taking exercise than any real disappointment with the figures.

As Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investors, pointed out: “The share price performance has reflected the strength of the recovery trade, as well as incorporating NatWest’s own efforts, and has spiked by 77% over the last year, as compared to a rise of 14% for the wider FTSE100.

“The shares remain down by 15% over the last two years, however, indicating that the recovery is certainly not complete.

“The challenges ahead and the price performance of late leaves the shares up with events for the moment, with the market consensus currently coming in at a strong hold.”

Proactive news headlines

() swung into profit in 2020 as the cryptocurrency miner said it had crossed “a major inflexion point” during the year amid a surge in revenues.

() () has hailed the full De Novo submission of its Parsortix system to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 as “a watershed moment” for the company and its goal to achieve the first-ever FDA clearance for a system to harvest cancer cells from patient blood for analysis.

() announced “excellent results” from the drilling campaign at the Havieron deposit and said they further support the delivery of an indicated mineral resource as well as the potential expansion of the gold-copper mineralised system.

() has begun the mobilisation of a drill rig ahead of a pivotal programme at the Rukwa helium project in Tanzania.

Ross Andrews, chairman (LON:IDV), the beauty and personal care specialist, said management was confident of a return to historic consumption levels for its products, including the popular Skinny Tan range.

() () () (FRA:W1D) has received its Part IV Environmental Approval for the Lake Way Project in Western Australia covering full-scale operations of 245,000 tonnes per annum of sulphate of potash (SOP).

FastForward Innovations Ltd () said its investee company Yooma Wellness Inc, a maker of cannabinoid and hemp-derived wellness products in which it holds a 5.1% stake, has had its cannabidiol (CBD) food products from its MYO Plant Nutrition and Blossom brands added to the UK Food Standard Agency’s novel foods list.

() reported a sharp reduction in debt for 2020 as the Africa-focused forestry and timber group said its business had remained “resilient” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

() has acquired a 49% stake in Barts Pub Ltd, owner of the iconic Kensington Park Hotel in London’s Ladbroke Grove for £750,000 and spent £1.18mln to increase its stake in certain companies with the Mosaic Pub and Dining Group to 24% from 14%.

() said its focus will be to further expand its portfolio, continue to build its network of partnerships and advance the pipeline of proprietary and partnered projects.

() said it is now well placed for substantial future growth after a “transformational” year.

() announced that its subsidiary SLE has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise within the Innovation category.

Bidstack Group PLC (), the native in-game advertising platform, has enlisted Katherine Hays, the co-founder of in-game adveetising pioneer Massive Inc, as a strategic adviser. 

() said its shares will begin trading on the OTCQX Best Market in the US on Thursday under the ticker ‘PSDMF’ after the firm was upgraded from the Pink market.

() said the first copper concentrate for refining at Jubilee’s Sable Refinery from Project Roan has been delivered on schedule.

Inc () said it is working towards de-risking the Nalunaq Project as much as possible and increase the scale and value of the resource.

() has welcomed the commencement of field exploration work at Cobre Limited’s Perrinvale project in Western Australia. In a separate announcement, the company drew attention to ’s quarterly activities report, released today.

() confirmed lower activity levels in South Africa amidst the pandemic as it reported production numbers for its first quarter.

() highlighted an upgrade to its 2021 production guidance for the Kwale operations in Kenya as it this morning issued its quarterly activities update.

(LON:CNR, ) has completed a programme of infill drilling at the La India mine’s starter-pits ahead of a phased development in Nicaragua where the company seeks to boost the economics of early production.

() said it will continue to positioning itself strategically on orogenic gold systems.

() said it has carried out four follow-on holes in one area at its Toral project in Spain after good visible indications from initial drilling.

() said drilling at the Arzu North prospect in Turkey has indicated resources sufficient to extend the Kiziltepe mine by a year.

() has been awarded the Queen’s Award for its contribution to international trade.

() subsidiary SLE Ltd has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise within the innovation category.

() said Brendan O’Mahony has stepped down as non-executive director of the company with immediate effect.

Esken Limited () said it has agreed with Warwick Brady that he will end his role as chief executive on 30 April and step down from the board of directors. He will continue to provide support to Esken on a limited part-time basis until he leaves employment on 30 June. 

6.50 am: FTSE 100 set to open a ‘shade higher’

The FTSE 100 is set to start Thursday a shade higher after last night’s US Federal Reserve meeting came and went without any material changes.

CFD and spreadbetting firm IG sees the London index rising around 8 points, making a price of 6,970 to 6,973 with just over an hour to go until the open.

Thursday is set to be another busy day of blue-chip reporting including results from Plc (), () and Paddy Powe owner ().

Over the pond, improving economic indicators in the United States bode well for the market but still fall short of the ‘heat’ that would make central bankers move away from ultra-low interest rates.

March saw the US economy add nearly 1mln new jobs but as Fed chair Jerome Powell highlighted there are still some 8mln Americans out of work in the pandemic, “substantial further progress” would be needed, he added.

“Last night’s Fed statement saw the US central bank acknowledge the recent improvement in US economic data, but also reiterate that they remained a long way short of the type of outcome-based data needed to alter their current policy stance, nixing any prospect of a taper in the near term,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said in a note.

The analyst added: “When pressed for more detail on what might be required for the Federal Reserve to start reducing policy accommodation, in terms of scenarios, the answer was always the same, ‘substantial further progress’ without actually putting any numbers on what that might be.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones gave up 164 points or 0.48% to close Wednesday’s session at 33,820.

The S&P 500 ended Wednesday down 0.08% at 4,183 whilst the Nasdaq dipped 0.28% at 14,051.

In Asia, meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.21% trading at 29,053 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.54% at 29,227. The Shanghai Composite was similarly up 0.21% at 3,464.

Around the markets

The pound: US$1.3956, up 0.15%

Gold: US$1,784 per ounce, up 0.48%

Silver: US$26.39 per ounce, up 0.54%

Brent crude: US$67.54 per barrel, up 1.6%

WTI crude: US$64.07 per barrel, up 1.8%

Bitcoin: US$53,808, down 1.75%

6.50am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday decided to leave short-term interest rates unchanged near zero as it buys at least US$120 billion of bonds each month.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 0.58% while the Shanghai Composite in China rose 0.30%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.21% and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.08%.

Shares in Australia gained, with the S&P/ASX 200 trading 0.25% higher.


Proactive Australia news:

() () () (FRA:W1D) has received its Part IV Environmental Approval for the Lake Way Project in Western Australia covering full-scale operations of 245,000 tonnes per annum of sulphate of potash (SOP).

() (OTCMKTS:PSDNF) (FRA:NYG) has completed the 465-metre Golden Swan drill drive at its Black Swan Project and started a 13,000-metre resource definition drilling program.

Ltd () (OTCMKTS:LTSRF) has completed its secondary listing on the OTCQB market in the United States with the ticker LTSRF and trading began last night.

() has completed negotiations to facilitate 100% ownership of the Carbine Bore leases encompassed by the company’s Gidgee South Gold project, consolidating tenure and underpinning its belief in this district.

() (OTCMKTS:MZZMF) (FRA:MA3) has started 2021 exploration at its 100%-owned Cape Ray Gold Project in Newfoundland, Canada, in what is shaping as its largest program to date.

Yandal Resources Ltd (ASX:YRL) drilling during the March quarter delivered strong early high-grade gold results from several prospects within highly prospective projects in the Yandal and Norseman-Wiluna Greenstone Belts in Western Australia.

() (FRA:R8L) is set to transform into a graphite producer in the current quarter with the pending acquisition of a 70% stake in the Zavalievsky group of companies based in Ukraine complementing the company’s recent membership of the European Battery Alliance (EBA).

() will continue its focus on initiating and completing pivotal clinical trials for the EMD-003 program, seeking to register a cannabinoid-based medicine with a unique capsule dose form to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.



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