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FTSE 100 parks up and adopts stationary position

  • FTSE 100 index unchanged
  • ECB keeps policies unchanged
  • US housing starts hit highest level since September 2006

3.10pm: A whole lot of nothing happening

The FTSE 100 dipped a toe into negative territory over the lunchtime session and is now more or less unchanged.

After announcing, as expected, no change to its policies, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde has played a fairly straight bat at the ensuing press conference.

“On the economy, the president reiterated that the ECB still considers its December forecasts valid, pointing to both positive factors—vaccination, the Brexit agreement, the EU recovery fund and manufacturing—and negatives—weakness in services linked to sustained lockdowns and sticky virus numbers—influencing the economic outlook. This is fair enough, especially in light of the fact that the central bank boosted stimulus last month,” suggested Claus Vistesen, the chief Eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“We suspect that the ECB’s near-term forecasts—forQ1 and Q2—will come down further, mainly due to a longer than expected path to herd immunity, but the uncertainty is, in any case, huge. By March, we will have a clearer view of the ECB’s outlook, and our own forecasts could well change too between now and then,” Vistesen said.

According to Anna Stupnytska, an economist at Fidelity International, by reaffirming its stance, “the Governing Council is sending a message that the tighter mobility restrictions and extensions of lockdowns seen throughout the Euro area over the past month have not been sufficient to catalyse further policy action, at least for the time being”.

“While the near-term outlook has deteriorated, markets are clearly looking through the ongoing recession and focusing on the rebound later in the year on the back of vaccine-fuelled stimulus and associated lifting of the restrictions. The timing of this rebound, however, is getting somewhat more uncertain – the new, more transmissible variants of the virus combined with varying success of the vaccination programmes across countries do point to potential delays to global and European economies opening up.

“In this respect, the ECB will have to continue keeping policy at extremely accommodative levels, focusing on maintaining easy financial conditions, and remains very likely to spend the full envelope allocated to the PEPP as well as ease policy further via other tools in the coming months,” Stupnytska said.

Across the pond, US housing starts rose by 5.8% month-on-month in December to an annualsed figure of 1.58mln, which is the highest level since September 2006.

“Housing starts staged an impressive V-shaped rebound in H2 2020 – regaining its pre-pandemic momentum – fueled by historically low mortgage rates, pent-up demand, and the tight supply of homes available for sale. We expect continued solid growth in the housing sector in 2021 as long as mortgage rates remain low,” said Roiana Reid at Berenberg.

2.52pm: Proactive North America headlines:

Vuzix Corporation (NASDAQ:VUZI) (FRA:V7XN) in collaboration to connect surgeons and healthcare providers with medical networks and virtual-care services via its Smart Glasses

HempFusion Wellness Inc (TSX:CBD.U) (FRA:8OO) strikes a deal to distribute its Biome Research products on the platform

Revive Therapeutics Ltd (CSE:RVV) inks ‘bought-deal offering agreement with Canaccord Genuity and Leede Jones Gable to raise gross proceeds of $10M

HighGold Mining Inc (CVE:HIGH) (OTCQX:HGGOF) reports further drill assays from Alaska showing potential to expand JT deposit resource

Silvercorp Metals Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:SVM) (TSE:SVM) (FRA:S9Y) set to expand portfolio in China as it wins online auction for Zhonghe silver project

Duos Technologies Group Inc (NASDAQ:DUOT) taps rail industry veteran Edmond L Harris to the company’s board

Nano One Corp (CVE:NNO) (OTCPINK:NNOMF) (FRA:LBMB) tapped to demonstrate cathode materials production in Chile by technology institute

Esports Entertainment Group Inc (NASDAQ:GMBL), announces closing of its previously announced acquisition of Esports Gaming League

O3 Mining Inc (CVE:OIII) (OTCMKTS:OQMGF) set to start pre-feasibility study for Marban project this year as it outlines aims for 2021

Versus Systems Inc (NASDAQ:VS) (CSE:VS) (FRA:BMVB) closes upsized public offering that raised more than US$11M

2.47pm: Wall Street starts higher as US jobless claims fall

Wall Street started on the front foot on Thursday morning as the optimism following Biden’s inauguration was bolstered by a reduction in US jobless claims in the final full week of the Trump presidency.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1% at 31,218, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.06% to 3,854 and the Nasdaq rose 0.16% to 13,478.

The optimistic bump followed US jobless claims data for the week to January 16, which showed that 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment during the period, a fall of 25,000 compared to the prior week but still at elevated levels. Continuing claims also fell by 127,000 to 5.18mln.

The numbers are likely to provide even more impetus for Joe Biden’s administration ask swiftly to get the coronavirus under control and provide stimulus cash to boost the economy out of its malaise.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was basically flat into late-afternoon, down 2 points at 6,738 at 2.45pm.

12.30pm: S&P set to continue breaking new ground

Although there has been little sign of a continuation of the Biden bounce in European markets, the party is set to continue stateside.

Having hit new highs yesterday, the S&P 500 is set to break more new ground, opening some 12 points higher at 3,864 but the Nasdaq Composite, which also hit a new high yesterday, is expected to open 96 points lower at 13,361.

The Dow Jones industrial average is seen opening 79 points higher at 31,279.

Baker Hughes, the oil field services company, announced fourth-quarter numbers with an adjusted earnings per share (EPS) loss of 7 cents versus expectations of positive EPS of 16 cents.

On the macroeconomic front, analysts will be looking out for US housing starts and building permits.

Daiwa America’s chief dconomist Mike Moran expects starts to be little changed this month, with a possible decline in single-family starts from November’s 13-year high, “perhaps offset by an increase in multi-family starts, where permits jumped last month”, Daiwa Capital said.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing survey for January is also released today, as is the weekly jobless claims report.

The Philly Feb business outlook index is expected to rise to 11.8 in January from 9.1 in December while first-time weekly jobless claims are tipped to dip to 935,000 from 965,000 the week before.

Back in Europe, the outcome of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) policy-setting meeting will be announced shortly, although few are expecting any change in policy.

“It’s only six weeks since they totally ‘recalibrated’ their pandemic toolkit. It will take some time for those changes to permeate the economy. They won’t have any new forecasts reflecting those changes until March. Meanwhile, financial conditions are already accommodative. The ECB has been trying to shift the market’s focus away from bond yields to financial conditions as a measure of its success in providing liquidity to the economy. So unless there was some glaring reason why they should move – which there isn’t – I wouldn’t expect any changes,” predicted Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss.

Closer to home, the CBI Industrial Trends Survey for January showed a decline in the total orders balance to -38 from -25 in December; the consensus forecast had been for a reading of -35.

The balance is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents reporting a decline in orders from the percentage reporting an increase.

“New trade rules with the EU do not appear to have excessively disrupted manufacturing output or demand. The total orders balance is not seasonally adjusted and it has fallen by an average of four points since 1978. In seasonally adjusted terms, we estimate that the balance fell to -35 in January, from -27 in December, but remained above November’s -40 level,” said Samuel Tombs, gravely, at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“In addition, the rise in the export orders balance to -33—its highest level since March 2020—from -44 in November, suggests that EU firms are not hesitating to source goods from the UK, despite the extra red tape and rise in haulage costs. Nonetheless, manufacturers have become less confident in the medium-term outlook; the quarterly business optimism balance fell to -22 in Q1, from zero in Q4. Furthermore, the renewed decline in the investment intentions balance to -27, from -17, suggests that the downturn in capex is not over yet,” Pantheon’s chief UK economist added.

The FTSE 100 was up 6 points (0.1%) at 6,747.

11.15am: Mid-caps provide a bit of much-need excitement

The FTSE 100 remains becalmed but there is a tad more movement happening among the mid-cap FTSE250.

The Footsie was up 6 points (0.1%) at 6,746 – a level it has been hovering around for most of the morning – while the FTSE 250 was 42 points (0.2%) better at 20,924 with Ibstock PLC (LON:IBST) leading the advance after a trading update.

Ibstock’s stock was 9.5% higher at 215.4p after the brick maker said it saw a continuation of the previously reported improving market trends during the final quarter of 2020, with encouraging activity levels in all key end-market segments.

4Imprint Group PLC (LON:FOUR) was also wanted after its trading update. The shares rose 3.5% to 2,340p after the promotional products pedlar said order intake continued to recover in the final two months of 2020 from the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Order intake for the fourth quarter on a like-for-like basis was 70% of the prior year; after the first month of the final quarter, it was running at only 60%.

IG Group PLC’s (LON:IGG) US$1bn purchase of Tastytrade, a US retail-focused online brokerage platform, got a lukewarm reception from the City.

The shares were off 1.9% at 887p despite the spread betting firm reporting profit before tax more than doubled in the six months to the end of November.


10.35am: Sterling’s strength saps enthusiasm for Footsie stocks

Tumbleweed continues to drift across the London stock market, with the FTSE 100 index in stasis.

London’s index of leading shares was up 7 points (0.1%) at 6,748 with sentiment not helped by sterling’s strength on foreign exchange markets.

The pound was up seven-tenths of a cent against the US dollar at US$1.3724.

“It is worth keeping an eye on the pound which has hit a fresh multi-year high against the dollar with the GBP crosses all showing relative strength as well. The pound’s strong performance might look somewhat strange during times like now, with daily death rates hitting fresh records and hospitals running out beds for COVID patients but it is worth remembering that since the EU referendum in 2016, sterling had been among the weakest of major currencies out there as some investors were obviously anticipating a no-deal Brexit outcome,” said Fawad Razaqzada of ThinkMarkets.

“As this didn’t materialise, it makes sense for the pound to regain some lost ground. The markets are ignoring short-term risks are looking ahead to more normal times. The UK’s ongoing success in rolling out the COVID vaccines means it will probably be among the first developed nations to be able to end the lockdowns and other growth-chocking measures this year. As a result, we may see a sharp rebound in economic activity in the coming months,” he suggested.

9.25am: Tepid start for equities

London’s leading shares have made a tepid start, disappointing market commentators who had the “Biden bounce” headlines at the ready.

The FTSE 100 index was up just 5 points (0.1%) at 6,746, about on a par with the performance of other European indices this morning.

The heavily-weighted oil behemoths, BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSB) are both down by around 1%, acting as a dead weight on the Footsie, as crude oil prices subside after American Petroleum Institute data yesterday showed inventories increased 2.6 million barrels last week versus expectations of 1.2 million drop.

“We feel the markets are in a holding pattern between the positives of Biden coming in and the rollout of the vaccine, and the negatives of new virus strains and increasing deaths,” said Rony Nehme, the chief market analyst at Squared Financial.

Entain PLC (LON:ENT), the company behind the Ladbrokes and Coral bookmaker brands, remains in the news; fresh from staving off a bid approach from its US partner, MGM Resorts, earlier this week it has appointed Jette Nygaard-Andersen as its new chief executive officer.

Shay Segev, who popped into the office for a few days in the second half of last year to be chief executive officer, has already signalled his intention to become co-chief executive of DAZN, a sport streaming platform.

Shares in Entain dipped 0.8% to 1,260p after its fourth-quarter trading update, which included a prolonged period when many of its shops were shut because of lockdown restrictions.

Net gaming revenue (NGR) on the retail estate was down 38% year-on-year in the UK in the fourth quarter and down 57% in the rest of Europe. Online NGR was up 41%, proving that punters will find a way to have a bet somehow.

8.40am: No inauguration hangover yet

It was more a Biden bump than a bounce as the FTSE 100 welcomed the new president with a positive showing at the start on Thursday.

The UK blue-chip index rose 27 points to 6,767.92 in the opening exchanges.

Now for the stimulus, Joe. Traders are currently betting the new White House incumbent will go for the end upper end of the mooted US$1.4-$1.9 trillion range.

Anything that falls short of expectations is likely to rattle the markets, analysts reckon.

Currently, the international bourses are bubbling away quite nicely. Asia enjoyed an upswing into record territory earlier Thursday, while Wall Street greeted the new president’s inauguration positively. The tech-based Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.3% on Wednesday.

Here at home, scientists tracking the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread say infection rates may have risen at the start of the third lockdown – which suggests hospitals will remain under pressure, and a return to normality may be a long way off.

The Square Mile greeted the grim news with a collective ‘meh’.

Sage Group (LON:SGE) topped the Footsie gainers with a 3.9% rise after the accountancy software group said its fiscal first-quarter trading had been in line with market forecasts.

The banks were also well bid with HSBC (LON:HSBA) and NatWest (LON:NWG) up 2.3% and 2.1% respectively.

On the flipside, Pearson (LON:PSON), down 2.7%, succumbed to profit-taking after Wednesday’s trading statement-related rally.

Among the tiddlers Evgen Pharma (LON:EVG) advanced 10% in early trade after weighing in with some encouraging pre-clinical data on its lead compound and its potential to treat brain tumours.

Proactive news headlines:

Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI) has inked a partnership deal with a subsidiary of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, for a trial of the group’s MSAR fuel with its fleet of commercial container vessels. It is envisaged that the partnership will capitalise on Quadrise’s skills in emulsion fuel application and its use in large diesel engines along with MSC’s vast shipping industry experience. The trial will begin in 2021 and it is envisaged that in Phase 1 the company’s MSAR fuel will be used to power a large MAN ME and/or a Wärtsilä/WinGD Flex 2-stroke engine, in order to obtain ‘letter of no objection’ from the respective engine manufacturers.

Canadian Overseas Petroleum Ltd (LON:COPL) said it has inked a term sheet for US$65mln of debt financing that will facilitate its acquisition of US onshore producer Atomic Oil and Gas LLC. The arrangement, for a senior credit facility, is with a US-based global investment firm. It will have a four-year duration and COPL described the terms as competitive whilst noting that it is subject to typical lending conditions. It has a US$45mln base plus a further US$20mln accordion facility that can fund future development initiatives, at the discretion of the lender.

Cobra Resources PLC (LON:COBR) has revealed high-grade gold results from drilling at the Wudinna project in South Australia. Highlight assay results from the Barns and White Tank deposits included 3.25 grams per tonne (g/t) gold over 13 metres, within which was 1 metre at up to 33.6 g/t along with 7.25 g/t silver and 1.71% copper. Another hole encountered 8 g/t gold over 3 metres, with the peak reading of 23.1 g/t and 20 g/t silver over 1 metre.

Evgen Pharma PLC (LONEVG) chief executive Dr Huw Jones has said he is excited by “compelling new data” for lead compound SFX-01 in pre-clinical models of glioma and glioblastoma. Work carried out in collaboration with an unnamed but prominent European university showed tumour shrinkage and significantly extended survival times. SFX-01 was also found to substantially increase the therapeutic effect of radiotherapy in these models.

Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) has said the maiden drilling programme on the company’s Hancock Iron Ore Project in Western Australia is off and running. The company is planning to complete at least 3,000 metres of grid-based shallow reverse circulation drilling across priority targets on the Hancock project, which is part of the Hamersley Iron Ore Project. The programme will test four main targets that have been defined from historic and recent work, namely two high-grade east-west ridges of outcropping high-grade iron ore in the central and north-central parts of the tenement recently identified by Alien in field mapping and sampling and the historically defined Kalgan and Sirius Extension prospects.

Clipper Logistics PLC (LON:CLG) said it has signed an agreement with Farfetch, a global platform that sells products from 1,300 luxury fashion boutiques and brands, to provide pan-European e-fulfilment and returns management services from a new facility in Venray in the Netherlands. The firm said the new contract will see it support all of Farfetch’s European activities and will begin in April for an initial term of five years. Clipper expects to employ 600 personnel at the site, which will have a stockholding capacity of over 2mln units of high-end apparel.

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has drawn investors’ attention to an article in ‘Drug Discovery Today’ written by a director at its hVIVO subsidiary. The print and online trade magazine with an emphasis on the science that underpins drug discovery and development has published an editorial entitled “Modelling the World – can deliberately infecting healthy volunteers really tell us much about what happens outside the clinic during an epidemic or pandemic?” The article was written by Adrian Wildfire, director of Scientific and Business Strategy at hVIVO, which is part of Open Orphan.

Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd (LON:CGH) said it has exceeded production guidance for the full year at its Kapan Mine in Armenia as well as making “good progress” in business development despite the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, cross-border hostilities in Armenia and protests in the Kyrgyz Republic. Reporting its production and operation results for the year to December 31, the AIM-listed miner said it had produced 58.2 kilo ounces (koz) of gold equivalent from Kapan, exceeding guidance of 55 koz, while also surpassing its third party ore target of 50 kilo tonnes (kt) with 67.8 kt processed.

W Resources PLC (LON:WRES) said it saw production rise sharply at the La Parrilla project in Spain in the fourth quarter of 2020. A total of 261,841 tonnes (t) of run of mine (ROM) ore was fed to the La Parrilla plant in the quarter, up 53% on a like for like basis and up 15% on a pro-rata basis compared to the preceding quarter (adjusting for days worked). Total tungsten and tin concentrate production weighed in at 133.4t, up 72% on a like for like basis and up 29% on a pro-rata basis compared to the third quarter (Q3).

88 Energy PLC (LON:88E) has released a quarterly activities update, for the three months ended December 31, 2020, highlighting its progress at Project Icewine and Project Peregrine. The Alaska-focused explorer noted the updated evaluation of Project Icewine, integrating the full findings of the Charlie-1 well, along with the start of a new farm-out process aimed at securing an exploration drilling campaign for 2022. An in-house study was meanwhile launched to consider gas monetisation options. The company also absorbed back interests in the “Area A” portion of Icewine, to again retain 100% of the asset.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA), a leading producer and supplier of graphene nanoplatelets based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, has announced that Marco Ferrari, its chief financial officer, has tendered his resignation from the company in order to pursue another business opportunity. The group said Ferrari will step down from the board and leave the company at the end of March 2021. In the interim, he will continue to run, with his team, the finance function of Directa Plus to ensure an orderly handover.

Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) has made a “strong start to the new year and is well placed to build on this momentum in 2021”, according to its chief executive, Lord Drayson. His comments ran alongside the company’s interim results, which outlined the “significant commercial progress” made in recent months. In the company’s financial first half, Sensyne said its anonymised NHS patient dataset has grown to 6.8mln records to achieve its IPO target. It struck four key new strategic research tie-ups.

Tissue Regenix PLC (LON:TRX), the regenerative medical devices company, announced that it has appointed David Cocke as its chief financial officer (CFO) and director to the board with immediate effect. The company noted that Cocke has over 29 years of experience in the medical device industry holding senior finance and operations positions. In 1997, he founded NuPak Medical, an ISO-certified contract manufacturer of sterile disposable medical devices, with the company turning cash flow positive in two years and growing the production volume from 50,000 to 3mln over time.

Tharisa PLC (LON:THS) has announced that Ms Shelley Wai Man Lo will be appointed to its board as a non-executive director with effect from the conclusion of the group’s AGM to be held on February 10, 2021. The company noted that Lo, a Chinese national, represents NWS Holdings Limited, a company whose shares are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and a subsidiary of which holds 15.10% of Tharisa’s issued share capital with voting rights as at December 30, 2020. She has more than 20 years’ experience in accounting, project investment and management in the infrastructure business in Hong Kong and mainland China. Lo is an Assistant Director: Roads of NWS Infrastructure Management Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NWS. Before joining the NWS group, she worked in the audit department of Deloitte, Hong Kong. Tharisa also said that Ms Vaneese Wing Ye Chu has been withdrawn from consideration as a director of the company at the upcoming AGM as she is no longer available for election. She will therefore retire by rotation with effect from the conclusion of the AGM.

Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ) has updated investors on the status of three restored contract areas located in Nagorno Karabakh and other formerly occupied territories following the end of a military conflict over the enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The AIM-listed gold, copper and silver producer said three contract areas have been restored, Soutely in the Kalbajar district and Vejnaly in the Zangilan district of the formerly occupied territories, and Kyzlbulag in Nagorno Karabakh. Kalbajar and Zangilan are currently under the control of the government of Azerbaijan, while Russian peacekeepers are present at the Kyzlbulag site.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON: ORR), the AIM-quoted exploration company focussed on West Africa announces that, said that following an exercise of warrants at a price of 0.68p each it has issued 8,581,176 new ordinary shares in the company. Following this exercise, a total of 314,649,103 warrants and 83,192,912 options over ordinary shares (representing approximately 27.1% of the company’s enlarged issued share capital) remain outstanding.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) the AIM-listed metals exploration and development company said it has received notices to exercise warrants over 5,404,663 new ordinary shares of 0.1 pence each in the company at an exercise price of 1.0p per ordinary; the exercise of 2,105,263 warrants at an exercise price of 0.75p per ordinary share; and the exercise of 2,500,000 warrants at an exercise price of 0.7p per ordinary share. Subscription monies of £41,283 have been received by Power Metal in respect of these exercises.

Arkle Resources PLC (LON:ARK) has announced that following the receipt of two warrant conversion notices, it has issued 3,000,000 ordinary shares of EUR0.0025 each at the exercise price of 0.50p per share and 5,937,500 ordinary shares at the exercise price of 1.2p per share. The group said the proceeds of the exercise of £86,250 will be used for additional working capital.

Landore Resources Limited (LON:LND) announced that it has received a notice to exercise warrants over a total of 677,196 ordinary shares, for which funds of £135,439.20 have been received by the company.

Newmark Security PLC (LON:NWT), a leading provider of electronic and physical security systems has said it will announce its unaudited results for the six months ended October 31, 2020, on January 25, 2021. The group added that Marie-Claire Dwek (CEO) and Graham Feltham (Group Finance Director) will provide a live presentation relating to the Interim Results via the Investor Meet Company platform on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at 6pm. The presentation is open to all existing and potential shareholders. Questions can be submitted pre-event via the Investor Meet Company dashboard up until 9am the day before the meeting or at any time during the live presentation. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add to meet Newmark Security PLC via:

4D pharma PLC (LON:DDDD), a pharmaceutical company leading the development of Live Biotherapeutic products (LBPs) – a novel class of drug derived from the microbiome, has announced its participation in the following: Plenary Session: European Microbiome Leaders Panel Discussion on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8.00am GMT (3.00am ET) with Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Alex Stevenson; Clinical Trial Design and Evaluating PK/PD Session: MicroRx and Single Strain Live Biotherapeutics: Proof of Concept Clinical Data and Future Considerations on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 11.30pm GMT (6.30am ET) with Research Director, Dr Imke Mulder.

Destiny Pharma PLC (LON:DEST), a clinical-stage innovative biotechnology company focused on the development of novel medicines that can prevent life-threatening infections, has announced that Neil Clark and Shaun Claydon will deliver a live presentation introducing the company via the Investor Meet Company platform on January 27, 2021, at 11:00am GMT. The presentation is open to all existing and potential shareholders. Questions can be submitted pre-event via your Investor Meet Company dashboard up until 9.00am the day before the meeting or at any time during the live presentation. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add to meet Destiny Pharma via:

6.50am: Bright new day

The FTSE 100 is seen on the front foot ahead of Thursday’s open following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 45th President of the United States, who debuted yesterday with a positive and a reconciliatory first speech.

In London, the FTSE 100 is called around 30 points higher with IG Markets making the price 6,762 to 6,765 with just over an hour to go until the open.

Soundbites aside, it is the expectation that Biden will bring an end to the deadlock over economic stimulus – and hope that it will reverberate through the global economy.

“All of the major US equity markets closed at new record highs, while markets in Europe also had a positive session, as investors absorbed the messaging of a new President, and a Treasury Secretary who promised to “act big”, in testimony to US policymakers the day before,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.

“This enthusiasm over a new stimulus program is likely to filter into a positive European open later this morning, after the Bank of Japan kept its own monetary policy decision unchanged, ahead of today’s ECB rate decision.”

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrials Average rose by 257 points or 0.83% to finish Wednesday’s trading at 31,188. The S&P 500 index, meanwhile, added 1.39% to close at 3,851 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.97% to 13,457.

In Asia on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 233 points or 0.82% to 28,756 whilst Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.55% lower to 29,796. The Shanghai Composite gained just shy of 1% to 3,615.

Around the markets:

  • The pound: US$1.3706, up 0.38%
  • Gold: US$1,873 per ounce, up 0.12%
  • Silver: US$25.97 per ounce, up 0.31%
  • Brent crude: US$55.98 per barrel, up 0.14%
  • WTI crude: US$53.20 per barrel, up 0.41%
  • Bitcoin: US$34,607, down 2.6%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia / Australia

Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher on Thursday after Wall Street hit record highs as new US president Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday.

China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1.12% while in Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.82%.

South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.54% but the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was an exception falling 0.24%.

In India, the BSE Sensex crossed the 50,000 level for the first time on Thursday, with the index last trading about 0.61% higher.

Shares in Australia advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.79% higher.


Proactive Australia news:

Arafura Resources Limited (ASX:ARU) has completed all metallurgical test-work and associated analysis from an extensive four-year metallurgical pilot program for the Nolans Neodymium-Praseodymium (NdPr) Project in the Northern Territory.

Perseus Mining Ltd (ASX:PRU) achieved half-year gold production of 137,386 ounces, up by 12% on the previous half-year and close to the top end of the production guidance range of 125,500 ounces-139,000 ounces at its three operating gold mines – Edikan in Ghana and Sissingué and the new Yaouré operation in Côte d’Ivoire

Element 25 Ltd (ASX:E25) (FRA:QFP) is moving towards the delivery of a low capital cost, early cashflow stage 1 operation exporting manganese concentrate from its Butcherbird Manganese Project in WA at a time of strong manganese prices and positive market fundamentals.

ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) (OTCMKTS:GSCCF) (FRA:4G1) is trading higher on the successful conversion of lithium carbonate produced at its pilot plant using ore from the Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada, USA, into battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

Kingwest Resources Ltd (ASX:KWR) continued a resource definition and exploration drilling program at Menzies Gold Project (MGP) in Western Australia throughout the December 2020 quarter with an additional 116 holes for 11,728 metres completed.

K2fly Ltd‘s (ASX:K2F) acquisition of SATEVA mine geology applications is exceeding expectations and is tracking ahead of target moving into 2021.

Bellevue Gold Limited (ASX:BGL) made strong progress on the project development and exploration fronts during the December 2020 quarter, setting the stage for an important year in 2021.

Artemis Resources Ltd (ASX:ARV) (OTCMKTS:ARTTF) (FRA:ATY) has received strong gold, copper and cobalt assay results from ongoing drilling at its 100%-owned Carlow Castle Gold Copper Cobalt Project in the West Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) (FRA:3MW) (OTCMKTS:LMMFF) subsidiary VSPC Ltd has been granted a patent by the European Patent Officer for its process of producing nanostructured metal-oxide products simply and efficiently.

Bardoc Gold Ltd (ASX:BDC) has received wide gold intersections from recent infill and exploration drilling at the Zorastrian and Excelsior deposits in Western Australia that point to growth in the 3.3-million-ounce resource at Bardoc Gold Project.

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