Monday Update

DB Live: US markets hit highs; Lookers; Hurricane Energy

10.30pm: US claws back losses

Traders on Wall St (pic: NYSE)

The Nasdaq posted a record closing high, becoming the first of the major indexes to confirm a new bull market. It climbed 44.7% from its 23 March bottom. A bull market is confirmed once the index makes a new high and is considered to have begun at the index’s low, according to a widely accepted definition.

The S&P 500 ended in positive territory for the year, clawing back all 2020 losses as expectations for a swift recovery from a coronavirus-driven downturn increased.

The S&P 500 remains about 4.5% below its record high close, while the Dow is about 6.7% below.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 461.46 points, or 1.7%, the S&P 500 gained 38.46 points, or 1.20%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 110.66 points, or 1.13%.

4.45pm: London close

The FTSE 100 slipped into the red after spending much of the day making some strong gains.

Trading sentiment cooled after US trade officials raised concerns over tensions with China.

London’s top index closed 11.71 points lower at 6,472.59p.

Shares in AstraZeneca were 227p lower to 8,200 on reports of merger talks with Gilead of the US. BP closed 3.5p higher at 365.75p after announcing job cuts (see below).

Mulberry shares dipped after the fashion brand said it plans to cut around a quarter of its workforce.

Shares fell by 6.5p to 189.5p after it warned it expects social distancing measures, lower footfall and fewer tourists to continue to hit revenues.

Car dealership Lookers saw shares fall 6.9p to 24.6p after warning investors it might be unable to buy and sell its shares from the beginning of July, after it discovered a potential fraud on its books (see below).

1.30pm: BP to cut jobs

Thousands of BP jobs are expected to be lost in the UK from among 10,000 announced by the company in response to the global slump in demand for oil because of the coronavirus crisis.

Full story here

12.55pm: Sturgeon urges businesses to be patient

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged caution ahead of a steady resumption of work, stating at her daily briefing that “I will not be doing anyone any favours by going too fast.”

But she said she was “optimistic” that the country would go into the next phase of the route map soon and that “if we can accelerate any of the easing of the restrictions we will do that.”

Full story here

11.45am: Wind farm deal

BayWa r.e. UK, the global renewable energy developer, has acquired Dalquhandy Wind Farm in Coalburn, South Lanarkshire, from Brockwell Energy. 

Full story here

11.30am: Wellahead acquired

An international energy services group has made a multi-million pound investment in Aberdeen engineering company Wellahead in a deal that will give it a foothold in the North Sea market.

Full story here

8.15am: London open

Investors took profits in early trade following last week’s strong gains. The FTSE 100 was trading lower at 6,466.67 −17.63 (0.27%).

AstraZeneca was among the fallers following a report that it was in talks with Gilead about a potential merger.

7am Lookers poised for shares suspension over results delay

Car dealership chain Lookers, which also trades as Taggarts in Scotland, says it will not be possible to publish the 2019 Results by 30 June, the last date permitted under the Financial Conduct Authority’s disclosure rules. 

It now anticipates that trading in the company’s shares will be temporarily suspended from 1 July until publication of the results, hopefully no later than the end of August. 

The board and the company’s finance team is working with company auditor Deloitte and is developing an action plan.

Deloitte has indicated that it intends to resign as auditor following the publication of the results.  The company is in a competitive tender process to appoint a new auditor.

Hurricane CEO resigns

Dr Robert Trice has resigned as chief executive and a director of Hurricane by mutual agreement with the board. Dr Trice will remain available to assist the company during a transition period of six months.  

Beverley Smith has been appointed interim chief executive. Ms Smith had a 30 year career with BG Group and has been a non-executive director of the company since December 2019.  She brings a wealth of production geology and field development leadership experience in the UK and internationally, which will be invaluable as the company continues its transition from pure exploration towards a maturing production company.

Richard Chaffe, who has been acting chief financial officer since February, has been confirmed in the role and as an executive director of the company. Mr Chaffe joined the company in 2016 as Head of Finance.

Roy Kelly, who has been the Kerogen nominated non-executive director since 2016, has stepped down from the board and has been replaced with immediate effect by Dr Alan Parsley, a member of the advisory board of Kerogen Capital. Dr Parsley is a geologist with over 50 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, primarily at Shell where he held senior positions.

Jason Cheng has stepped down from his alternate director position in relation to Kerogen’s nominated director. Leonard Tao will continue in this role, acting as alternate to Dr Parsley.

These changes to the board have taken place with immediate effect.

EasyJet board changes

EasyJet has announced that Charles Gurassa, deputy chairman and senior independent director, and Andy Martin, independent non-executive director and chairman of the finance committee, will step down from the Board this year in line with corporate governance best practise having each served on the board for nine years.

Mr Martin will step down on 31 August. Mr Gurassa has agreed to stay on until 31 December to help provide continuity as the company continues to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

6am: Oil price extends gains

Oil continued to climb after major producers agreed to extend a deal on record output cuts to the end of July and as China’s crude imports hit an all-time high in May.

Brent crude was up 89 cents, or 2.1%, at $43.19 per barrel, this morning, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 62 cents, or 1.6%, to $40.17 a barrel.

Both hit their highest since 6 March earlier in the session, at $43.41 and $40.44, respectively.

Brent has nearly doubled since the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and allies agreed in April to cut supply by 9.7 million barrels per day during May-June to prop up prices that collapsed due to the coronavirus crisis.

On Saturday, OPEC+ agreed to extend the cut by a month until the end of July.

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