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  • FTSE closes off 95 points at 6,016
  • Evraz is top Footsie loser
  • Immedia surges despite heavily discoutned share issue

4.50pm: FTSE closes in red

FTSE 100 index finished firmly lower on Thursday as stocks were under pressure on the back of a surprise rise in jobless claims in the US and continued fears over the global pandemic.

Britain’s blue-chip benchmark closed down around 95 points, or 1.56%, at 6,016, with big miners making up some of the biggest laggards.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets highlighted the Fed’s comments last night, which warned that the US economy could face a ‘considerable’ negative impact over the medium term.

“The Fed also repeated the need for fiscal stimulus, as they feel they can’t tackle the crisis alone. The absence of a coronavirus relief package is playing on traders’ minds even more so in light of the Fed’s comments. It seems a bit strange that traders are all of a sudden worked up about the Fed’s bearish outlook, when it has been known for a while now,” said the analyst.

Top loser on Footsie was steel giant Evraz (LON:EVR), which shed 6.10% to stand at 324.70p. US benchmark crude fell 1.12% on the day to US$42.45 a barrel. Brent crude dropped 1.3% to US$44.81.

US and Canada 4.30pm/11.30am EST

Over on Wall Street, stocks were mixed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down around 40 points at 27,654. The broader-based S&P 500 was up a shade, 0.65, at 3,375.  The tech heavy Nasdaq added over 59 points at 11,206. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX index  was down around seven points at 16,570.

4.00pm: Half-hearted rally as US indices find forward gear

Entering the last half hour of trading, the Footsie made another attempt to rouse itself, spurred on by US indices, which have taken a turn for the better.

The FTSE 100 index was still 90 points in the hole at 6,022, with fund manager Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA), down 5.6% at 248.5p, leading the index lower.

There were a few bright spots in the Footsie, with bottom-feeders nibbling around the property companies.

SEGRO PLC (LON:SGRO) – doomed forever to be occasionally but regularly referred to as “the company formerly known as Slough Estates” – did John Betjeman’s least favourite town proud with a 1.5% rise to 958.5p.

British Land PLC (LON:BLND) and Land Securities PLC (LON:LAND), both up 1.4%, were not far behind.

In the market as a whole, Immedia Group PLC (LON:IME) was the top riser, rocketing 62% to 23.5p after it conditionally raised £1.1mln through a share placing and subscription.

The issue price of 10p represents a discount of about 31.0% to the mid-market closing price of 14..5p per share at last night’s close.

The biggest faller was Premier Oil PLC (LON:PMO), which accompanied its half-year results with details of a gob-smacking debt refinancing.

The agreement with a group of lenders extends Premier’s maturities from May 2021 to March 2025, and sets a harmonised interest rate of 8.34% across the company’s cash credit facilities.

The shares crashed 24% to 25.84p.

What the hell happened to Premier Oil?!#Stock #Oil

— HamzaTrader (@HamzaTrader) August 20, 2020

3.30pm/10.30am EST: Proactive North America headlines:

Gevo (NASDAQ:GEVO) exceeds $1.5B in long-term revenue contracts after striking deal with Trafigura Trading; stock jumps

Cabral Gold (CVE:CBR) (OTCPINK:CBGZF) set for drilling at Cuiú Cuiú project in bid to define multiple high-grade deposits

Energy Fuels Inc (TSE:EFR) reshuffles management team, promotes Scott Bakken and Dee Ann Nazarenus to vice president roles

Australis Capital Inc (CSE:AUSA) (OTC:AUSAF) sets annual meeting for November, puts dissident shareholders on notice

Matinas BioPharma Inc  (NYSEAMERICAN:MTNB) publishes data from Phase 1 EnACT study of MAT2203 to treat cryptococcal meningitis

Orgenesis (NASDAQ:ORGS) collabs with dermatology research organization on topical Ranpirnase formation to treat HPV symptoms

Klondike Gold (CVE:KG) (OTCPINK:KDKGF) eyeing potential open-pit gold resource as it kicks off drilling again at Lone Star

FansUnite Entertainment Inc (CSE:FANS) (OTCPINK:FUNFF) names US gambling industry expert Chris Grove to its board of directors

EuroLife Brands (CSE:EURO) enters health and wellness sector via acquisition of Toronto-based brand Plant & Co Marche

CytoDyn (OTCQB:CYDY) to submit leronlimab application questions to FDA; gets nod from UK regulators to proceed with coronavirus trial

Orogen Royalties (CVE:OGN) commences trading on TSX Venture Exchange after merger of Evrim Resources and Renaissance Gold

Co-Diagnostics  (NASDAQ:CODX) wins increased US patent protection for its CoPrimer technology used in its coronavirus test kit

Mawson Gold Ltd (TSE: MAW) (OTCPINK:MWSNF)  kicks off diamond drilling at the Sunday Creek gold project in Victoria goldfields in Australia

The Valens Company Inc ( (TSE:VLNS) (OTCQX:VLNCF) poised for further product innovation as it receives Cannabis Research Licence from Health Canada

2.45pm: Wall Street opens in the red

The main Wall Street indices have opened in negative territory on Thursday after the US weekly initial jobless claims figure moved back above 1mln, higher than expected, while the Philadelphia manufacturing reading pointed to a possible slowdown.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Down Jones Industrial Average was down 0.44% at 27,571, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.48% to 3,358 and the Nasdaq fell 0.34% to 11,108.

However, one of the early winners in the US session was computer chip maker Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC), which rose 2.2% to US$49.41 after unveiling plans for a US$10bn accelerated share buy-back.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 was down 97 points at 6,014 at 2.45pm.

1.45pm: ECB minutes create few waves

If the markets were perturbed by the minutes from the most recent meeting of policy makers at the US central bank, the European equivalent prompted indifference.

Not a huge amount to take away from the ECB minutes, with the central bank acknowledging the dependence of markets on the continuation of policy support while noting that the markets aren’t fully backed by the data,” was the verdict from OANDA’s Craig Erlam.

“They also stressed that the PEPP [pandemic emergency purchase programme] programme, while currently envisaged to be used in full, was a ceiling rather than a target and that it must remain flexible. None of this is a game-changer, obviously, and the tight range in EURUSD in the ten minutes after the release perfectly highlights this,” Erlam noted.

Carsten Brzeski at ING reckons that “at least in the current crisis” the European Central bank has no exclusive insights and is looking at the same developments “like the rest of us”.

“The conclusion from looking at the available data is and was that the eurozone economy will see a sharp initial rebound, while the shape of the subsequent recovery is anything but clear,” he continued.

The word “uncertainty” appeared 20 times in the minutes, Brzeski noted. He also speculated that “opponents to quantitative easing have not given up their resistance, yet.”

Across the pond, first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the US rose last week by 135,000 from the previous week to 1.1mln.

Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims

Initial claims were 1,106,000 for the week ending 8/15 (+135,000).

Insured unemployment was 14,844,000 for the week ending 8/8 (-636,000).https://t.co/ys7Eg5LKAW

— US Labor Department (@USDOL) August 20, 2020

Economist had expected the number to keep on falling, as it had done in the previous week, and had pencilled in a figure of 923,000.

In London, the FTSE 100 was down 88 points (1.4%) at 6,025.

12.15pm: Aside from tech stocks, US equities look set to join the retreat

After yesterday’s reverses, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 are expected to add to their losses but the NASDAQ Composite is on the comeback trail.

Spread betting quotes indicate that the Dow, which shed 85 points yesterday to close at 27,693, will open around 48 points lower at 27,645 while the S&P 500 is tipped to shed 4 points at 3,371.

The NASDAQ Composite, fuelled by continued tech-mania, is seen rising 186 points to 11,332.

Things have got so frothy in techland, Airbnb has revived plans to float, despite evidence of a second wave of coronavirus cases across the globe.

READ Airbnb revives IPO plans

Apple, the iPhone maker, became the US’s first US$2,000bn company – that’s market capitalisation, not taxes paid (obviously) – this week, which partly explains the NASDAQ’s continued strength.

“Apple’s $1trn rally in just 24 months is truly remarkable. Apple, like many tech stocks, has been largely insulated from the Covid-19 economic downturn – despite having to close stores because of the pandemic,” said Richard Hunter, the head of markets at interactive investor.

“The burning question now for investors is how high can Apple go?” Hunter asked.

“ A deep recession could spoil Apple’s bull run by knocking demand for its premium products like iPhones, iPads and MacBooks; however, Apple has a few strings to its bow and its services arm, which includes Apple Music and Apple TV, is likely to continue to be a revenue driver for the business regardless of whether the overall economy is growing or not,” Hunter added.

“In addition, the US-China trade conflict remains a threat. Further escalation in the conflict could leave Apple, who are heavily reliant on Chinese manufacturing for products such smartphones, exposed.”

Aside from the continued appetite for all things tech stock-related, the focus stateside is likely to be the minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve’ policy-setting committee.

“The Fed’s calm and measured stance in its most recent meeting was perhaps not enough for stock markets, which have certainly grown used to a rhythm of central bank actions, but the disappointment should not last long,” predicted Chris Beauchamp, the chief market analyst at IG.

“The minutes should not be viewed in any hawkish light, but instead seen as a necessary pause for the central bank to reassess the outlook. Markets have been able to weather much bigger problems than a set of central bank minutes, with no indication thus far that the overnight weakness is about to turn into something more substantial,” he added.

Milan Cutkovic, a market analyst at AxiCorp, was a bit less “glass half full”.

“Talks between Democrats and Republicans over another massive corona aid package have stalled, and no imminent solution is in sight,” Cutkovic noted.

“The comments from the Fed brought markets under pressure, as a V-shaped economic recovery is already priced in.

“The reaction also shows that investors remain fairly edgy, despite – or perhaps because – of the impressive recovery rally. After several weeks of a smooth ride for stock markets, market participants should buckle up for another rollercoaster ride,” he added.

“At the same time, the United States is increasing the pressure on Hong Kong by terminating three bilateral agreements. It will only be a matter of time before Beijing will see itself forced to take countermeasures, which could set in motion a dangerous downward spiral.

“With the current uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the timing for a return of the trade war between the two superpowers could hardly be any worse,” Cutkovic suggested.

Back in Blighty, the late morning rally has run out of steam as the pound strengthens further against the dollar and the FTSE 100 is down 78 points (1.3%) at 6,034.

Sterling is up by a tad more than a third of a cent against the US dollar at US$1.3135.

11.00am: Rally underway despite downbeat results from survey of economists’ views on the US economy

A recovery of sorts is underway by the Footsie, with a dozen or so of the index’s constituents now in profit.

London’s index of leading shares was down 70 points (1.1%) at 6,042, 30 points above its intra-day low.

The rally has occurred despite a gloomy Reuters survey of economists that suggests the UK economy will not recover from the coronavirus-inspired collapse for at least two years.

Mind you, as the old joke has it, economists have predicted 13 out of the last nine recessions, so what do they know?

Latest #Reuters #poll on #UK #economy sees #GDP contracting 9.7% in 2020; Third-quarter growth of 15.1% quarter-on-quarter anticipated after 20.4% q/q contraction in Q2. Growth is seen at 6.7% in 2021. #BOE not expected to introduce negative interest rates https://t.co/ccL1V8ZSNJ

— Howard Archer (@HowardArcherUK) August 20, 2020

The UK economy has contracted by 9.7% this year but economists polled by Reuters (just under 70 of them – the collective noun is “a confusion of economists”) predict it will expand by 6.2% next year.

The majority of the economists surveyed by the news agency do not think the Bank of England will go down the route of negative interest rates. The Bank Rate is predicted to remain fixed at 0.1% until `at least 2023; on the scale of percentage probabilities of negative interest rates, the median forecast was 22.5% in the Reuters poll.

Reuters poll: UK economic and monetary policy outlook


 

10.00am: Fed up to the back teeth

The US central bank has certainly put the “Fed” into “fed up” this morning, with blue-chips down virtually across the board.

The FTSE 100 was down 92 points (1.5%) at 6,020, with fund managers M&G PLC (LON:MNG) and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA) leading the retreat, as global markets take a hit from bearish comments in the latest minutes released by the Federal Reserve.

M&G is down 6.9% at 167.5p and Standard Life is off 5.3% at 249.4p.

READ M&G falls as Deutsche Bank downgrades and casts doubts on dividend

“The Fed meeting minutes from Wednesday night sort of did a number on the markets, both warning that the pandemic would ‘weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term’ as well as posing risks to the outlook ‘over the medium term’, while also stating that the FOMC felt new stimulus measures were ‘not warranted in the current environment’,” noted Connor Campbell at Spreadex.

“With hopes dashed of a Fed intervention in the short term, the latest COVID-19 headlines carried an extra sting. Germany has just posted its highest number of new cases since April, Croatia may be the next country to be removed from the UK’s travel corridor, Australia’s Qantas airline has warned travel to the US is likely not possible until there is a vaccine, and South Korea is in danger of seeing a return to a nationwide outbreak after recording more than 1500 cases in the last week,” he added.

There has been little news flow from the big beasts to distract attention away from the Fed’s slap around the market’s cheeks. Irish building materials seller CRH PLC (LON:CRH) is down 1.1% at 2,973p after its interims but the shares are outperforming the market so the numbers probably weren’t that bad and it did pay out a dividend, albeit declared in US currency (22 cents).

The builders’ merchant said it expects its third-quarter underlying earnings will be in line with expectations but as for the fourth quarter, it’s a case of “your guess is as good as mine”.

8.35am: Weak start

The FTSE 100 index opened Thursday firmly in negative territory amid worries over the parlous economic state of the US and the seeming inability of senior politicians there to agree an additional stimulus package.

The index of UK blue-chip shares opened 70 points lower at 6,042.37.

Very little clarity was provided by the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting committee’s last meeting, minutes from which published last night left traders bemused and unsettled.

“All we got were two paragraphs that basically said they were still discussing things,” said Marshall Gittler, at forex group BDSwiss. “As for when we might get some answers, it’s still unclear.”

On the market, the morning’s big blue-chip casualty was Chilean miner Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), which saw its profits hit hard by a weak copper price. The fact that the group maintained the dividend appeared to carry little weight with the market as the shares were marked down 6%.

Off by the same quantum was Evraz (LON:EVR), as shares in the Russia-focused iron specialist traded without entitlement to a chunky pay-out.

On the up was InterContinental Hotel Group (LON:IHG), with bargain-hunters driving the stock 2.5% higher.

On the FTSE 250 retailers were in demand. AO World (LON:AO.) spiked 7% higher as the white goods specialist gave a reasonably upbeat assessment of prospects in its trading update.

Frasers Group (LON:FRAS), the high street chain formerly known as Sports Direct, rose 2.4% after it said it would be investing more in its online activities.

Among the tiddlers, 7Digital (LON:7DIG) shot up 24% after it said it had landed a music contract with an unnamed global technology company.

Proactive news headlines:

Capital Limited, the mining services company, has said its business continued to perform strongly in the first half of 2020 despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The company’s business is focused on African markets and gold mining in particular so the rocketing price of gold has been a boon for the company. Strong demand for drilling services is anticipated once the West African wet season has passed. Revenue in the first half of the year rose to US$65.09mln from US$54.83mln the year before. Profit before tax soared to US$19.13mln from US$7.59mln in the first half of 2019, thanks largely to a US$9.98mln “fair value” gain on investments.

SDX Energy PLC (LON:SDX) chief executive Mark Reid has described the first half of 2020 as ‘strong’ for the company, despite the challenges during the period. “Production hit record levels and we made some important discoveries in both Egypt and Morocco, which have added significant value to the company’s portfolio, with the Sobhi discovery, in which we have a 100% working interest, expected to be brought on stream in Q1 2021,” Reid said in the group’s interim financial results statement. In terms of the financial results, the Egypt and Morocco-focused oil and gas firm confirmed 97% production growth versus the same period in the preceding year – with entitlement production amounting to 6,980 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). Production growth was driven by output from the South Disouq field, which continued to perform ahead of expectations. It contributed some 4,825 boepd net to SDX.

Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) has said it is planning to launch a new virtual racing website, racinggames.gg, which will allow motorsport fans to read news, share opinions, and follow global virtual racing esports and competitive gaming events. The esports group said the site, which is expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2020, will leverage its existing market position in virtual motorsport built through relationships with F1, IndyCar, Forza and most recently Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management. The site will cover all virtual motorsports including the F1 Esports Series and all existing and future Global Racing Series virtual racing competitions. Gfinity also said the site will drive the reach of the Global Racing Series competitions and its commercial value with brands, broadcasters and teams.

Inspiration Healthcare Group PLC (LON:IHC) has said it remains optimistic on prospects for “this financial year and beyond” as it updated on progress fulfilling an NHS ventilator contract. The group said it had delivered a further £1mln of equipment, taking the running total to £3mln. In March it won new business worth £5mln from the UK health service. “We have continued to work tirelessly with our partners to get the ventilators into the UK and delivered to the NHS,” Inspiration chief executive Neil Campbell said in the statement. Investors were told the integration of S.L.E., bought for £18mln in June, was going to plan and the business has delivered a further £500,000-worth of ventilators.

Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:FOG) (CVE:FO) has told investors that it is presently expected, subject to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions, that fracture stimulation of Kyalla 117 well will start in the coming weeks. The company noted that the Kyalla 117, at the Beetaloo project in Australia’s Northern Territory, was drilled successfully in February – confirming good reservoir continuity, conductive natural fractures and continuous gas shows – before operations were suspended in March due to the pandemic. It is now anticipated that the fracking programme for Kyalla 117 will happen in the third and fourth quarters, followed by a production test starting later in the fourth quarter. Results of the test are likely to come in the first quarter of 2021, Falcon added.

Coinsilium Group Limited (LON:COIN) said it has begun active management of cryptocurrencies its holds in treasury, while also extending its initial staking activities. The blockchain and crypto venture group said as of August 19, 2020, the value of its fully vested crypto and token treasury is US$575,134 and predominantly denominated in “highly liquid” cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Coinsilium also said in addition to its treasury position there are a further US$104,559 of RIF tokens that it will vest monthly over the next 27 months.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) and its partners in the West Newton discovery are advancing efforts to select new well locations, as they seek to start planning for the next phases of the Yorkshire oil project. Project operator Rathlin Energy has submitted screening requests to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for two new potential hydrocarbon well sites, UJO noted in a statement. Screening the possible well sites, for the West Newton C and West Newton D wells, respectively, is the first step in the planning process to further explore and appraise the West Newton hydrocarbon field.

Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (NASDAQ:TLSA, AIM:TILS) said Dr Napoleone Ferrara, an award-winning scientist who helped invent two blockbuster drugs, has agreed to serve on the company’s scientific advisory board for a further three years. Ferrara, currently a professor at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, made pivotal contributions to the discovery of cancer drug Avastin and Lucentis, for an eye condition called macular degeneration. Last year the two products netted sales of more than US$9bn worldwide. A highly decorated researcher, Ferrara, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has won the coveted Lasker Award and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Asiamet Resources Ltd (LON:ARS) has boosted its cash balance in the first half of its current year to US$2.03mln from US$418,000 in the year-ago period. The AIM-listed firm also reported that for the six months ended June 30, 2020, its net losses had narrowed to US$2.1mln from US$4.2mln the previous year.

Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) said its shares have commenced trading on the quotation board segment of the open market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The shares are listed with the ticker 5KV. The group said the secondary listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange will introduce Trident to a new pool of investors who are well acquainted with the mining sector. No new capital is being raised but the expectation is that the listing will increase the overall liquidity of the company’s shares – which also remain listed on London’s AIM.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR), the AIM-quoted exploration company focussed on West Africa, said that under the directors’ share option remuneration plan, enacted to maximise funds available for exploration, options over 39,884,912 ordinary shares in the company have now been granted in lieu of four months’ salary that was accrued between November 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020. The options have an exercise price of 0.1p and, being an award in lieu of salary, are not subject to performance conditions and will expire after ten years. In aggregate this award of options is equivalent to 4.38% of the current issued share capital of the company. Oriole chairman John McGloin commented: “Back in 2019, when the Board decided to implement a policy of foregoing salary in lieu of share options, in order to conserve cash for the exploration needs of the Company, the spectre of COVID-19 had yet to bring the world into lockdown. This cash saving measure now looks all the more important in light of the global pandemic and economic turbulence suffered in 2020. The investment of four months’ accrued salary into equity in the Company shows the confidence of the Board in the future of the Group, and we look forward to delivering on our extensive exploration plans during the latter half of 2020.”

Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI) has announced that, following receipt of a notice of exercise in respect of the convertible security issued by the company on August 30, 2019, to convert £300,000 into new ordinary shares in the company at a conversion price of 1.6p per new ordinary share, the group has issued 18,750,000 new ordinary shares. It noted that an amount of £1,400,000 remains outstanding under the convertible security.

accesso Technology Group PLC (LON:ACSO) , the premier technology solutions provider to leisure, entertainment and cultural markets, has confirmed that it will announce its interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Ergomed PLC (LON:ERGO), a company focused on providing specialized services to the pharmaceutical industry, has said it will announce its interim results for the six months ending June 30, 2020, on September 22, 2020. It noted that Miroslav Reljanović, the group’s executive chairman and Richard Barfield, its chief financial officer will host a virtual presentation and conference call for analysts at 9.00am BST on the day of the results.

6.50am: Footsie set for retreat

The FTSE 100 index is set to start Thursday lower after America’s central bankers failed to inspire hope or positivity, and trading sentiment weighted to the downside.

CFD and spread betting firm IG Markets sees London’s blue-chip benchmark losing around 73 points, making the price 6,033 to 6,036 with just over an hour to go before the open.

It had been hoped that US policymakers would be forthcoming with a stimulus deal though no such deal has yet been unveiled, nonetheless, the slight hopefulness provided some support to the dollar. 

Minutes from the most recent US Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting, meanwhile, confirmed pessimism amongst central bankers and provided traders with something of a reality check – if that was really needed – leaving equities drifting lower.

“The update showed that the health emergency could have a ‘considerable’ impact on the nation’s economic outlook in the medium term,” said David Madden, analyst at CMC Markets.

“The central bank reiterated the need for fiscal stimulus too. In light of the announcement, traders are less hopeful the Fed will introduce bond yield control as way to manage borrowing costs. James Bullard of the Federal Reserve said that rates will remain low for a ‘very long time’ and in addition to that, he said there was no need to offer further guidance yet.”

Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday, despite a positive start pushing the S&P 500 to new intraday highs early in the session.

The Dow Jones Industrials Average dropped 85 points or 0.31% to mark the close at 27,692. The S&P 500 closed with a 0.44% loss at 3,374, whilst the Nasdaq Composite fell by 0.67% to finish at 11,146 – albeit after hitting all-time times earlier this week. But the small-cap Russell 2000 index edged 0.15% higher to 1,572.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slumped 253 points or 1.1% to trade at 22,856, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gave up 500 points or 2% to 24,677 and the Shanghai Composite was 1.01% lower at 3,373.

Around the markets:

  • The pound: US$1.3085, down 0.1%
  • Gold: US$1,946 per ounce, up 0.54%
  • Silver: US$27.14 per ounce, up 1.22%
  • Brent crude: US$45.01 per barrel, down 0.9%
  • WTI crude: US$42.95 per barrel, up 0.14%
  • Bitcoin: US$11,711, down 0.13%

6.45am: Early Markets – Asia/Australia

Asia Pacific region stocks fell on Thursday as China kept its benchmark lending rate on hold.

South Korean stocks were among the biggest losers regionally, with the Kospi dropping 3.61% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 1.98%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also lower, with the Shanghai composite down about 0.97% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.02%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 backed away from yesterday’s five-month high close to fall 0.88%.

READ OUR ASX REPORT FOR MORE INFORMATION

Proactive Australia news:

MGC Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:MXC) (OTCMKTS:MGCLF) has taken another step towards commercialising its anti-inflammatory treatment ArtemiC with positive interim results from a Phase II clinical trial on COVID-19 infected patients.

Pantoro Ltd (ASX:PNR) has lifted the growing gold potential of the Norseman project in Western Australia’s Goldfields with the discovery of a new zone of near-surface mineralisation at the nearby Scotia Mining Centre.

Kazia Therapeutics Ltd (ASX:KZA) (NASDAQ:KZIA) has soared almost 50% on being awarded US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Fast Track Designation (FTD) to paxalisib for the treatment of glioblastoma – the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer.

Arrow Minerals Ltd (ASX:AMD) has extended its Dassa gold discovery in Burkina Faso to a strike length of 5 kilometres after a 235-hole auger sampling program.

Galileo Mining Ltd (ASX:GAL) is set to begin diamond core drilling at highly prospective targets within the proven Fraser Range nickel belt in Western Australia.

Zelira Therapeutics Ltd (ASX:ZLD) (OTCMKTS:ZLDAF) has expanded its network in the US by launching its HOPE range of products for autism sufferers in Louisiana, USA, where laws have recently been expanded to allow more patients access to medical marijuana.

Latin Resources Ltd (ASX: LRS) is advancing exploration at its priority Yarara Gold Project in the proven Lachlan Fold Belt of New South Wales and its Noombenberry Halloysite-Kaolin Project in WA.

Kingston Resources Ltd (ASX:KSN) has received high-grade results of up to 1-metre at 28.02 g/t gold from 55 metres at Livingstone Gold Project near Meekatharra in Western Australia, confirming the potential of the project and the company’s mineralisation model.

Red River Resources Limited (ASX:RVR) sampling at its Isabel prospect in Queensland has confirmed the presence of high-grade silver-indium-lead-zinc mineralisation.

Cardinal Resources Ltd (ASX:CDV) (TSE:CDV) confirmed that Shandong Gold Mining (HongKong) Co., Limited has received a no objection notification from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for its takeover bid for Cardinal.

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