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Thursday update

Daily Business Live: Dow Jones in new surge; STV update

10pm: Markets

Traders on Wall St (pic: NYSE)

Wall Street shrugged off dismal jobs figures to mark its strongest three days since 1931.

The Dow Jones closed at 22,552.17, up 1,351.62 points (6.38%)., That was 21% up on its Monday low, establishing it in a bull market, according to a widely used definition.

Investors flocked to buy shares despite the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surgeing to 3.28 million last week amid state-wide lockdowns.

Expectations are high that the House of Representatives will pass the $2trn stimulus measure to support distressed industries, including airlines, after the Senate cleared the proposal.

It would flood the country with cash in an effort to halt the damaging economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

5.15pm: Markets

The FTSE 100 soared for a third straight session, closing at 5,815.73, +127.53 (2.24%).

5.10pm: More on self-employed

The scheme will be open for at least three months across the UK and will be extended if necessary.

The grant is only available for those with trading profits of up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income from self-employment.

It will be available from June, prompting some concern that some will not survive.

Mr Sunak said the scheme was “generous” and that 95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme.

Full story here

5.05pm: Help for self-employed

Self-employed workers have been offered a package of support to help them cope the health emergency.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak offers to pay a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits over the past three years, up to £2500 per month.

3pm: Lockdown fines

Those who refuse to comply with new lockdown measures face a £60 fine, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days, under a new order issued by the Home Office.

Second-time offenders could be issued a fixed penalty notice of £120, doubling on each further repeat offence.

Those who do not pay the penalty can be taken to court and face unlimited fines.

2.45pm: Factory hospital offer


Owners of the former IBM factory near Greenock have offered the facility as an NHS field hospital to help with the Covid-19 crisis.

Full story here

2pm: US jobless figure soars

The number of people out of work in the US rocketed to a record high as the economy goes into lockdown.

Nearly 3.3 million people registered to claim unemployment benefits for the week ended 21 March, according to Department of Labor data.

The previous record was set in 1982, when unemployment claims hit 695,000.

The sharp rise marks an abrupt end to a long period of slow and steady job market expansion.

12.52pm: Enforcement powers

Nicola Sturgeon says she hopes the new police powers will not have to be used. Declines to give details on the fines and other penalties that can be imposed.

12.50pm: Long haul ahead

Catherine Calderwood, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said 40,000 to 50,000 people in Scotland probably had the coronavirus but many would not know yet.

“This is going to be a long haul,” she said.

12.35pm: Police powers

Nicola Sturgeon announced that police in Scotland now have enforcement powers to break up gatherings and issue on-the-spot fines to those breaching social distancing guidelines. This also applies to business premises.

12.15pm: Bank of England

The Bank of England kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.1% as predicted and said it was ready to increase its bond-buying programme if needed.

10.15am: STV update


The broadcaster has announced a package of measures that will retain £10 million in the business as it adjusts to the coronavirus outbreak. This includes cancellation of its final dividend payment. It has also halted filming.

Full story here

8am: Markets

Sellers returned to the markets as the FTSE 100 opened sharply lower. In the first few minutes of trading it was 176.61 points lower (3.07%) at 5,513.59.

7.40am: Loganair

Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles

Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair CEO, said he cannot promise that all 16 routes acquired from Flybe will be continued once the virus alert is over.

“We will take a view on demand when the market comes back,” he said.

He expects Loganair to be operating half of its fleet from next week “which is not enough to keep the airline going long term”.

There are challenges because some airports are closing terminals.

He said the company is either too big or too small to qualify for some of the government support on offer and is in talks about a way through.

7.20am: Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s, the insurance syndicate, said the market is in a strong position to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and support its customers and business partners.

In 2019, Lloyd’s net resources increased by 8.6% to £30.6bn, reflecting an exceptionally strong balance sheet and a central solvency ratio of 238%.

Although there has been a high degree of turbulence in the financial markets over recent weeks, as at 19 March Lloyd’s solvency ratio stood at 205%.

7.15am Reach expects impact

Record and Express

The owner of the Daily Record, Daily Express and numerous local news titles said advertising revenue deferrals may be expected given its discretionary nature, print circulation will be impacted by footfall reductions. Closures of outlets and event delays or cancellation may be necessary.

Mitigation plans are being developed to try to partially offset some of these.

The company, formerly Trinity Mirror, expects to provide further financial guidance in a trading update at its AGM which is scheduled for 7 May and is under review.

7.05am: Intu’s rent shortfall

Intu Braehead

The shopping centre owner said it had received only 29% of second quarter rent which was due yesterday.

For the same period last year, it had received 77% on the quarter day.

The company, whose properties include Braehead in Renfrewshire, said it is in discussions with its customers on the outstanding rents.

As at 24 March it had cash and facilities of £184 million but has significantly reduced capital expenditure for the foreseeable future and is cutting back on head office costs to maintain additional cash within the business.

“The reduced social activity is likely to continue for the foreseeable future impacting our footfall and potential future rents. The impact of the reduced rents received is expected to require us to seek covenant waivers and we are in constructive discussions with the relevant lenders.”

It is in talks with the UK Government and about accessing the £330 billion support package and other measures.

Given the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, it is no longer able to provide guidance in relation to the 2020 financial year.

7am: Weir China back working

The Glasgow-headquartered engineer said that its three facilities in China which endured a forced shut-down in early February are now back to full operating capacity. 

However, other operations and supply chains are increasingly disrupted as governments step up their efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.

The company is curtailing all non-essential capital expenditure so that spending in 2020 will now be significantly lower than previous guidance.

The board has decided to withdraw its recommendation to pay a 2019 final dividend.

5am: Markets

Traders on Wall St (pic: NYSE)

Wall Street continued its rebound, fuelled by a record $2 trillion stimulus package. The Dow Jones closed 495.64 (2.39%) higher. The FTSE100 resumed its upward surge, closing at 5,688.20, up 242.19 points (4.45%).

However, investors are on tenterhooks ahead of jobless numbers in the US due at 1230 GMT, with forecasts in a Reuters poll ranging from 250,000 claims to four million.

Japan’s Nikkei 225, which jumped 8% on Wednesday was down 3.1% while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2%.

4.40am: Oil prices slip

A glut of oil combined with depressed demand put a halt to three days of gains. Brent crude futures fell 19 cents, or 0.7%, to $27.20 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 37 cents, or 1.5%, to $24.12 a barrel.

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