Wednesday Update

Daily Business Live: Bus firms get funds; Prince has virus

4.45pm: Markets, FTSE surges

The FTSE100 resumed its upward surge, closing at 5,688.20, up 242.19 points (4.45%). Wall Street also continued its rebound. The Dow Jones closed 495.64 (2.39%) higher.

Full report here

2.15pm: Stark economic warning

Hopes that the coronavirus will have only a limited hit to the economy’s long-term productive capacity now look ‘overly-optimistic’, says the head of the Fraser of Allander Institute in his latest commentary on what lies ahead.

Full story here

1pm: More on bus support

The government said in a statement that it typically spends £260 million a year in supporting bus services.

“Operators will receive additional payments matching the difference between actual payments and those previously forecasted levels. This arrangement will be kept under review to best support our bus industry and keep Scotland moving.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “People are changing their travel patterns to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and we’ve seen a real dip in public transport use across Scotland.

“Figures from Transport Scotland analysts show that concessionary bus journeys in particular had dropped by 81% in the last two weeks – and I would expect this to fall even further in light of the latest guidance.”

12.50pm: Help for bus companies


Bus companies will be compensated for loss of revenue following a 70% fall in concessionary travel.

Nicola Sturgeon says the government will meet the lost revenue they had forecast.

12.40pm: Sturgeon begins statement

FM announces there have been six more deaths as “we are seeing a rapid rise in coronavirus cases in Scotland”

11.30am: Prince has virus

Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19, Clarence House has confirmed.

The Prince of Wales, who is 71 years old and is staying at Balmoral, is displaying mild symptoms, but remains in good health.

The Duchess of Cornwall has tested negative to the virus. The couple are self-isolating.

Prince Charles recently met Prince Albert of Monaco, who has also tested positively.

An official statement said: “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

11am: Market volatility

Clear evidence of market volatility as FTSE 100 recovers from 30 point mid-morning fall to bounce back. Now trading higher again at 5,492.06, +46.05 (0.85%).

10.50am: CBI wants work clarity

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn says many firms remain confused over who is allowed to continue working and will seek guidance.

10.45am: Markets retreat

After its stellar rise, the FTSE 100 has turned negative, now trading 20 points down (-0.55%) at 5,412.98 after hitting an intra-day high of 5741.42.

10am: Herald cutbacks

Sunday National and Herald on Sunday - first copies

Newspaper group Newsquest has introduced enforced leave and pay cuts on staff at 200 titles, including the Herald & Times in Glasgow.

Full story here

9am: Markets: FTSE extends rally

Buyers continued to return to the market following confirmation of the $2trn US stimulus. The FTSE 100 was 252.7 points (4.64%) higher at 5,698.71.

Royal Bank of Scotland is 17% higher. Among gainers across the broader market, pub chain Marstons has gained 30%, while betting shop chain William Hill is 25% higher. One Savings Bank is up 15%. The FTSE 250 is up 5.4%.

8.20am: Markets: FTSE higher

The FTSE 100 has opened strongly as predicted. It was trading 144 points (2.69%) higher at 5,592.67 in the first minutes of trading.

Full story here

8.15am: Parliament in recess

The Westminster government will go into recess tonight, a week earlier than normal and with no certainty about when MPs should return.

Full story here

7.25am: DFS

Furniture chain DFS has significantly reduced its marketing expenditure and paused all discretionary capital and operating expenditure, including the deferral of six planned new showroom openings next year.

it will be reducing the use of consultants and contractors, and implementing a recruitment and training freeze.

Senior leaders are likely to reduce their pay while the shutdown continues, and all annual salary reviews are deferred.

The board has cancelled payment of the interim dividend of 3.7p per share, which was due to be paid to shareholders on 17 June, saving over £8m of cash in June.

7.20am: Bellway, Persimmon and Henry Boot


Housebuilder Bellway said it has a strong balance sheet with net cash at 31 January, low land creditors and committed bank facilities of £545 million, placing it in a strong position to withstand the likely disruption.

Profit before tax for the half year to the end of January came in 7% lower at £291.8 million (£313.9m). It has suspended its dividend.

Persimmon has cancelled the proposed 125p per share interim dividend payment of surplus capital to shareholders on 2 April, and to postpone the proposed final dividend payment of 110p per share on 6 July 2020 and reassess it later in the calendar year when the effects of the virus will be clearer.

Henry Boot has delayed publication of its annual results due on 31 March in accordance with guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority

7.15am: Inflation falls

Money - own pic

The cost of living in the UK has fallen.

UK inflation slipped 0.1% in February to 1.7%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today.

Energy bills helped push the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) UK inflation rate down from 1.8% in January, as gas, electricity, housing and water bills fell 0.03 percentage points.

The fall was also driven by a drop in fuel prices amid the ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions, as well as cheaper games and toys.

6.50am: Markets

London Stock Exchange

The FTSE 100 is expected to open higher after US politicians agreed a $2trn stimulus bill to shore up the American economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Spread-better IG expects the FTSE 100 to open up around 50 points after ending Tuesday’s session 452 points higher at 5,446.

Asia extended gains on the Dow Jones Industrial Average which rose by 11.3%, or nearly 2,100 points, its biggest one-day gain since 1933.

The US plan includes $500bn in loans for distressed companies, $350bn in small business loans, $250bn in unemployment insurance benefits, and $250bn for direct payments to individuals and families.

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