Wednesday Update

DB Live: FTSE 100 above 6,000; Hampden; Barclays; Next

7pm: Wetherspoon reopening

JD Wetherspoon

Pub chain Wetherspoon’s is planning to reopen in June despite there being no date for exiting the lockdown.

Full story here

4.45pm: Market close

Markets were buoyed by encouraging trends in the virus outbreak, with the FTSE 100 closing above 6,000 for the first time since 12 March at 6,115.25 +156.75 (2.63%).

US stocks jumped to seven-week highs as Gilead Sciences gave an encouraging update on a potential COVID-19 treatment and upbeat earnings from Google-parent Alphabet boosted shares of other technology and internet giants.

In early trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 546.59 points, or 2.27%, the S&P 500 was 72.72 points, or 2.54%, higher and the Nasdaq Composite was up 267.60 points, or 3.11%.

3.30pm RBS offering support

RBS chief executive Alison Rose told shareholders today that the bank had “moved at pace” to implement the various schemes introduced by the government to support businesses through the coronavirus crisis.

Ms Rose said the bank expected to feel the impact in its Q1 figures.

Full story here

3.10pm: Building contractor collapses

Central Building Contractors (Glasgow) has collapsed into administration with the loss of 148 jobs.

Full story here

11.45am: Entrepreneurs in covid trouble

Entrepreneurs ‘running out of cash’ due to Covid, says Business School survey

Full story here

9am: Market open

Investors remained positive towards lockdown easing and a steady return to work, pushing the FTSE 100 back above 6,000 for the first time since the restrictions were imposed. The index was trading at 6,013.03 +54.53 (0.92%).

8.30am: John Lewis may shut stores

John Lewis

Senior management at John Lewis are considering which department stores may close permanently once the coronavirus lockdown ends, according to the PA news agency.

Sources close to the employee-owned retailer said it was “highly unlikely” that all 50 sites would reopen, as the company battles for its future.

8.15am: Hampden rises on acquisition

Edinburgh-based private bank Hampden & Co has reported income up 36% to £8.7 million for the year to the end of December (2018: £6.4m).

Client deposits grew by 53% to £409.4m (2018: £267.5m) and client lending increased by 54% to £203.8m (2018: £132.5m), including £31m from the acquisition and transfer of Smith & Williamson’s loan book in December. 

Growth also included an expansion into the mortgage intermediary market, particularly in relation to complex mortgages for high net worth individuals. 

7am: Barclays falls


Barclays profit fell by more than a third in the first quarter as the bank set aside £2.1bn for bad debts during the Covid-19 crisis.

Pretax profit for the three months to the end of March dropped 38% to £913m as revenue rose 20% to £6.3bn. The charge for impaired loans increased to £2.1bn from £448m a year earlier.

Jes Staley, Barclays’ chief executive, said: “The impact of Covid-19 came late in what was until that point a good quarter. We have taken a £2.1bn credit impairment charge which reflects our initial estimates of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

On a return to work, he said the days of cramming thousands of bankers into skyscrapers may be over. Barclays has a large tower block at the Wharf, but Mr Staley is wondering if it needs to go back to having all its staff in one place. When they return just two people allowed in an elevator at one time.

“I think the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past. And we will find ways to operate with more distancing over a much longer period of time,” he said.

7am: Next sales plunge

Fashion retailer Next has withdrawn its current and 2021 dividends as total product sales in the quarter to April 25 plunged 41%.

All its stores have closed and online operations were paused temporarily. Store sales plummeted 52% while online sales were down 32%.

It said that even in its new worst case scenario, with full year full-price sales down 40%, the mitigation it has put in place means it can operate comfortably within its cash resources and will end the year with less net financial debt than at the end of the previous year.

7am: Dixons Carphone

Electricals retailer Dixons Carphone said online demand was making up for around two-thirds of store sales lost due to closure during the coronavirus crisis, as it warned it would not pay a dividend due to uncertainty connected with the pandemic.

The group, which also has stores in Ireland, Scandinavia and Greece, said that in its UK and Ireland business online sales had jumped 166% in the five lockdown weeks to 25 April.

6.30am: Market

London stocks were set to rise at the open as investors eyed the latest US GDP data and a policy announcement from the Federal Reserve.

The FTSE 100 was expected to open 26 points higher at 5,985.

The index has gained 5% in April, cutting its losses during 2020 to 21%.

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