London’s FTSE 100 fell as investors across global markets track the spread of popular protests against the Beijing government’s strict anti-Covid lockdown measures.
Oil prices led the way lower, with Brent crude, the international benchmark at its lowest level since January and the key US contract, West Texas Intermediate, at its weakest for the calendar year.
By way of distraction, there was news of one of the few companies planning to make its debut in London this year. Hellenic Dynamics, which goes cannabis for medical use, will score around £40 million in fresh capital when it comes to market next week.
FTSE 250 sheds over 200 points led by resource and investment stocks
11:23 , Michael Hunter
The darkening geopolitical clouds over markets put investment stocks and resource companies in the shade on London’s FTSE 250, which fell by over 200 points in late-morning trade.
While the mid-cap index is often used as the stock barometer which best tracks the domestic UK economy, it is also home to companies which are exposed to the wider global economic outlook. They were the stocks making some of the biggest falls as concern spread among investors that political turmoil in China amid its strict anti-Covid measures meant further uncertainty for global growth.
Fidelity China, the specialist fund investing in the country’s markets, fell 7p to 205p, a loss of over 3%. Caledonia Investments Company, which has a global portfolio, made the biggest single fall, down 225p or almost 6% to 3820p.
Energean Oil and Gas lost 48p, or just over 3%, to 1380p. John Wood Group was down almost 6p to 158.2p, a decline of 3.4%.
Overall, the mid-cap index was 213 points weaker at 19332.76, a drop of over 1%.
CFO of car company Inchcape quits amid “personal behaviour” scandal
10:23 , Michael Hunter
The FTSE 250 quoted business surprised the City this morning by revealing that Dutch CFO Gijsbert de Zoeten had “voluntarily” resigned and would be standing down from the board with immediate effect.
In a statement the company said: “This follows an incident at a recent event where, through a lapse in judgement, [de Zoeten] displayed personal behaviour falling short of the high standards expected of the leadership of the group.”
Its shares fell by around 2% to 862p.
Barclays’ chief executive CS Venkatakrishnan diagnosed with cancer
10:10 , Michael Hunter
Barclays said today that its chief executive, CS Venkatakrishnan, has been diagnosed with cancer.
The bank told investors that he would be undergoing treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. In a letter to staff, he said “the matter has been detected early, with scans and biopsies confirming it to be very localised” and “cruable”.
Known throughout the company as Venkat, he said he would be working from home during periods of his treatment, likely to last between 12 and 16 weeks. He said the company would continue to run “normally”, and that he would “continue to be actively engaged in managing it.”
Monday markets: oil price tumbles
09:31 , Simon English
BACK in March supposed energy market guru Pierre Andurand had a stark warning on oil prices— they could double to $250 a barrel as the chaos from the Ukraine war spiralled.
The hedge funder told investors: “Wakey, wakey. We are not going back to normal business in a few months.”
This morning Mr Andurand was splashing cold water on his face as Brent crude fell 3% to its lowest price January.
Brent was down to $81.48 a barrel, while the US equivalent was below $75.
Andurand, who among other accolades has an MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics from Oxford was today on his calculator offering investors theories as to why he was so wrong.
The simple reason is that recession or fear of it has sent demand for the black stuff tumbling. Political unrest and a surge in Covid-19 cases in China is hardly helping.
Naeem Alsam, chief market analyst at Avatrade, says: “Basically, it is demand that is creating the main issue for the price, and the fact that we have a potential recession threat and now the covid issues in China, things are becoming difficult for oil traders.”
There were knock-ons for China focussed shares. In particular the Fidelity China Special Situations fund was down 9p to 203p. The Edinburgh Worldwide Investment Trust also took a hit, down 6p at 173p.
On a slightly uneasy day, the FTSE 100 lost 46 points to 7439. BP lost 8p to 479p and Shell 36p to 2330p on the oil price malaise.
Meanwhile, Superdry said it is in talks with Bantry Bay Capital to refinance £70 million of debt ahead of repayments due in January. The shares fell 2p to 124p.
Brickability shares rally after build-up in customer base powers profit growth
08:45 , Michael Hunter
Shares in Brickability rallied after the building products distributor said its move to extend its customer base helped it lift profits, even as clouds started to gather over the house market amid rising interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis.
The AIM-listed company reported a near-60% rise in revenue of over £350 million in the six months to September 30, and profit before tax of over £15 million, up by over 70%.
It said it was able to maintain volumes in its bricks business, which generates around three quarters of its sales, “despite supply issues from both UK and European manufacturers”.
Some margins came under pressure in parts of the business, “where we have not yet been able to immediately pass on all costs attributed to both materials price inflation and fuel surcharges,” said its chief executive, Alan Simpson.
He added: “Our divisions have once again performed well during the first half of the year with both revenue and profit significantly ahead of the prior period, reflecting the diversity of the Group and the strength of Brickability’s positioning within the market.”
Shares in the Bracknell-based firm rose 1.5p to 72p, up over 2%.
FTSE 100 falls with resource stocks in retreat
08:21 , Michael Hunter
London’s FTSE 100 started the day on the back foot, with resource stocks under pressure, as investors across global markets tracked the outbreak of protests in China against Covid lockdowns.
The prospect of longer and harsher restrictions in the country had already stoked concern about the implications for global growth, while the weekend’s social unrest added to those fears.
Some of the companies most sensitive to the outlook for wider economic growth around the world were among the biggest fallers in early trade. Oil major Shell fell 51p to 2317p, a drop of over 2%. BP was 10p weaker at 478p, also a decline of over 2%. Mining company Rio Tinto fell 67p, or 1.3%, to 5310p. Antofagasta dropped 12p to 1329p, down almost 1%.
Medical cannabis firm Hellenic Dynamics to float on London stock market
08:04 , Michael Hunter
After a poor year for companies launching on London’s stock market comes news of deal which will score a listing for Hellenic Dynamics, a supplier of medical cannabis.
While not one of the biggest deals London has ever seen -- raising about £40 million -- the company will list via a special-purpose-acquisition company. The firm, set up by entrepreneur Davinder Rai, will start trading on the market next Monday, December 5.
Rai intends to become “the supplier of choice to the NHS” medical cannabis, which is increasingly being used as an alternative to opioid based pain killers.
The company owns a lease on a former UN military site in Greece, where it intends to grow the cannabis under LED lights in former missile bunkers.
Rai added: “Hellenic’s admission to the Main Market as the first medical cannabis cultivator marks a major step forward not just for the company but also for the millions of people around the world who will benefit from our life enhancing medical products.”