London close: Stocks higher as investors pore through US jobs report
Stocks in London finished firmer on Friday, as Investors digested the latest US jobs report and tried to map out the potential implications and risks following news that the US President and the First Lady had tested positive for Covid-19.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.39% at 5,902.12, and the FTSE 250 managed gains of 0.07% to 17,395.81.
Sterling was stronger against its major trading pairs, last rising 0.27% on the dollar to trade at $1.2926, and advancing 0.65% against the euro to €1.1042.
"Usually, the US non-farm payrolls report is the most important story of the day, but the news that President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, have tested positive for Covid-19 captured trader’s attention," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
"The US leader is in his 70s and is. on the cusp of being obese, so that puts him at a higher risk with respect to the coronavirus.
"Dealers have been in risk-off mode today on the back of the Trump news."
In fresh data out during the afternoon, the US jobs market continued to show signs of slowing down a bit last month.
According to the Department of Labor, non-farm payrolls grew by 661,000 in September, undershooting forecasts for an increase of 865,000.
Offsetting the miss versus economists' median forecast, figures for the prior two months combined were revised up by 145,000.
The reading was noticeably lower than the July print of 1.734m new hires and the August figure of 1.37m.
"Momentum fading; October will be much weaker," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Shepherdson was also very cautious regarding the chances of a fourth stimulus bill making it past Congress any time soon.
"If Congress fails to pass a relief bill before the election, such grim data ought to motivate them to act in the lame duck session, but if Republicans have lost the Senate and WH, they might prefer to do nothing, rather than give incoming President Biden a lift.
"In that case, the next relief bill won’t be until February, and that’s a long way off."
On the presidential coronavirus case, according to White House physicians, Donald Trump and Melania Trump were doing fine.
Still, the risks of a potential leadership vacuum were not lost on financial markets, even if those risks appeared to be exceedingly low.
So too, some market observers were quick to point out that Joe Biden, the Democratic party's candidate to the presidency at the next elections, had shared a stage with Trump just 48 hours before.
Many of the top White House staff are tested daily for the novel coronavirus.
"To say this could potentially be a big deal is an understatement. Not much more can be said here at this stage, other than to do what one always does when anyone catches Covid – wish them a rapid and full recovery," said analysts at Rabobank.
"However, one cannot help but note that Trump is very much in the age and weight category that place him in the higher risk groups, health-wise, and the market and public talk will now be of little else.
As if the news out of the White House was not enough, overnight talks on Capitol Hill to agree on a fourth stimulus package fell through.
Still, it remained to be seen whether either Republicans or Democrats would want to be seen to have scuppered any chance of an agreement heading into the 3 November presidential elections.
In equity markets, Centamin plunged 16.99% after cutting its 2020 production guidance, putting operations on hold at part of its Sukari gold mine in Egypt.
The company said it immediately deferred open pit mining at Sukari's Stage 4 West wall after detecting movement in a localised area of waste material.
Centamin said it had taken measures to stabilise the affected area and had started a geotechnical assessment with the aim of mining the affected area.
IAG lost 2.49% after saying all the shares in its €2.74bn (£2.5bn) rights issue were taken up by investors after demand for additional shares exceeded supply.
The British Airways owner said shareholders took up 92.75% of new shares during the pre-emptive subscription period which ended on 26 September.
It said the rest of the shares were allocated on a pro-rata basis after investors requested more than double the number of new shares remaining.
AstraZeneca was off 0.57% after announcing that ‘Farxiga’, or dapagliflozin, has been granted ‘Breakthrough Therapy Designation’ in the US, for patients with chronic kidney disease, with and without type-2 diabetes.
The pharmaceuticals giant said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the designation based on clinical evidence from the DAPA-CKD trial.
James Fisher and Sons gained 3.15% after its specialist technical business had won a multi-million-pound five-year Royal Navy contract to service life-support diving equipment.
There were no specific figures on the contractual amount.
The company said the deal builds on a 20-year relationship with the Royal Navy, reflecting JFD's breadth of expertise and commitment to capability development and safety improvements in military diving.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 240.10p 2.96%
Evraz (EVR) 350.00p 2.79%
British Land Company (BLND) 349.20p 2.59%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 27.20p 2.51%
SSE (SSE) 1,282.50p 2.27%
NATWEST GROUP PLC ORD 100P (NWG) 109.85p 2.19%
Rightmove (RMV) 652.40p 2.13%
WPP (WPP) 625.60p 2.02%
Land Securities Group (LAND) 535.50p 2.00%
Pearson (PSON) 558.40p 1.90%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Melrose Industries (MRO) 115.75p -3.70%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 113.60p -2.74%
Avast (AVST) 515.50p -2.74%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 91.50p -2.47%
B&M European Value Retail S.A. (DI) (BME) 491.10p -2.44%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,659.00p -2.17%
DCC (DCC) 5,498.00p -2.00%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,562.50p -1.88%
BP (BP.) 214.40p -1.74%
Homeserve (HSV) 1,219.00p -1.61%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Liontrust Asset Management (LIO) 1,385.00p 4.92%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,503.00p 4.30%
Brewin Dolphin Holdings (BRW) 242.50p 4.08%
Investec (INVP) 149.80p 4.06%
888 Holdings (888) 267.50p 3.88%
Britvic (BVIC) 795.50p 3.31%
Sirius Real Estate Ltd. (SRE) 75.70p 3.27%
Fisher (James) & Sons (FSJ) 1,180.00p 3.15%
Greggs (GRG) 1,258.00p 2.95%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,935.00p 2.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 156.55p -22.15%
Aggreko (AGK) 362.80p -4.48%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 740.50p -3.77%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 253.40p -2.91%
CLS Holdings (CLI) 206.50p -2.82%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 39.35p -2.82%
Sanne Group (SNN) 622.00p -2.81%
Energean (ENOG) 561.90p -2.79%
Diversified Gas & Oil (DGOC) 100.80p -2.70%
WH Smith (SMWH) 930.50p -2.51%