FTSE 100 to start on front foot as vaccine and US stimulus hopes lift sentiments

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6.50am: Optimism regained

The FTSE 100 is expected to begin Thursday on the front foot with yesterday’s optimism spilling over following records again overnight on Wall Street.

Hopes are rising on both the economic and medical fronts as speculation and reports pointed to stimulus and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine breakthroughs potentially around the corner.

In London, the blue-chip benchmark is predicted to start the day up around 21 points, with CFD provider IG Markets making the index at 5,955 to 5,958 with just over an hour to go until the open. Ex-dividends today clip some 4.76 points off the index.

As the session progresses attentions will fix firmly on the United States and its mooted stimulus package.

“Sentiment was lifted because of hopes of a US stimulus package being agreed upon, even though no major progress has been made on that front,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

“Nancy Pelosi, of the Democrats, said there are still ‘serious differences’ between what both sides are requesting. It would appear that traders welcomed the talk between Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, even though they didn’t amount to anything – a conversation is at least a step in the right direction. The topic of the relief fund has been doing the rounds for weeks now,” he added.

Thoughts of stimulus and evidently strengthening vaccine hopes drove US stock benchmarks higher on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrials Average gained 454 points or 1.59% to close the session at 29,100. The S&P 500 added 1.54% to 3,580, and the Nasdaq Composite rose by 0.98% to 12,056. Elsewhere, the small-cap Russell 2000 index climbed 0.87% to 1,592.

In Asia this morning, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index advanced 244 points or 1.05% to 23,491, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.4% lower to 25,020, and the Shanghai Composite notched slightly lower to 3,401.

Around the markets:

  • The pound: US$1.3311, down 0.29%
  • Gold: US$1,940 per ounce, down 0.05%
  • Silver: US$27.37m per ounce, down 0.04%
  • Brent crude: US$44.35 per barrel, down 2.7%
  • WTI crude: US$41.53 per barrel, down 2.87%
  • Bitcoin: US$11,344, down 4.6%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Thursday after the US Nasdaq Composite topped 12,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday.

Mainland Chinese stocks shed earlier gains with the Shanghai Composite down 0.46% in the evening, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.67% lower.

In Australia the S&P/ASX 200 notched higher by 0.82% even as trade data for July showed exports declining 4% month-on-month.

Proactive Australia news:

Imugene Limited (ASX:IMU) (OTCMKTS:IUGNF) has received Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) approval to commence a Phase I clinical trial of its checkpoint immunotherapy candidate, PD1- Vaxx in the US for non-small cell lung cancer.

ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) has confirmed the timeline for its Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Nevada, aiming to be permitted and ready to begin construction as early as quarter two 2021.

American Rare Earths Ltd (ASX:ARR) has completed sampling at La Paz Rare Earths Project in the US, which has demonstrated that host mineralisation extends beyond the previously established resource parameters.

engage:BDR Ltd (ASX:EN1) has set up a new programmatic integration with WeatherBug, a top-3 ranked weather publisher based in the US.

Predictive Discovery Ltd’s (ASX:PDI) extensive power auger drilling program across its Bankan Project in Guinea has identified plus 0.25 g/t gold composite intercepts on three more drill lines – expanding the NE Bankan gold mineralised footprint from 1.3 kilometres to 1.6 kilometres in length.

Opyl Ltd (ASX:OPL) has developed a software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make a probability of success prediction on the likelihood of a vaccine, drug, diagnostic or medical device succeeding in clinical trials.

Pantoro Ltd (ASX:PNR) has received wide, high-grade drilling results from the OK Underground Mine at the Norseman Gold Project in Western Australia, which have confirmed a second ore zone available for mining.

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd (ASX:KPT) has signed an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) agreement with Maritime Constructions Pty Ltd of Port Adelaide bringing it a step closer to developing the Kangaroo Island Seaport.

Pharmaxis Ltd (ASX:PXS) (OTCMKTS:PXSLY) (FRA:UUD) has been awarded A$1 million in Australian Government funding to advance work on the company’s drug discovery for the treatment of the devastating genetic disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Pure Minerals Ltd’s (ASX:PM1) wholly-owned subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals Pty Ltd (QPM) has formulated an operating strategy for pilot plant trials for its TECH Project, which includes plant start-up in the December quarter of 2020.

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