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Wednesday Updates

Daily Business Live: Stockpiling; TV drama hit

4.45pm: Markets

The FTSE 100 managed to stay above the 5,000 level, closing 214.32 points or 4.05% lower at 5,080.58.

The biggest faller was cruise company Carnival. It lost more than a third of its value – 34.22% – to fall to 620p. In mid-January it stood at 3,114p.

Aerospace giant Meggit fell a quarter to 238,40p, while the Ashtead Group fell 23.30% to 1,300p.

2pm: Tennent’s holiday

Tennent Caledonian Breweries has placed a stop on its intended Free On-Trade wholesale price increase and has also introduced a three-month capital and interest payment holiday to its loan customers.

1pm: Lib Dems hit

Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced that the party’s spring conference, which was set to take place in Peebles on 22-24 May has been postponed. 

12.20pm: Amazon prioritising

Amazon is temporarily halting the stocking of certain items in its warehouses, in order to meet demand for household essentials.

The move will last until 5 April and cover warehouses in the US and Europe

12.15pm: Film Festival postponed

Edinburgh Film Fest 2

The 74th Edinburgh International Film Festival, due to take place in June, has been postponed.

Organisers are are looking at which elements of the Festival can be delivered later in the year.

Filmhouse in Edinburgh and Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen are also closing from today until further notice. 

12.05pm: Stockpiling crackdown

Supermarkets have introduced strict limits on how many goods people can buy as a way of stopping shoppers stockpiling.

Asda and Sainsbury’s will stop shoppers buying more than three of any particular food item.

Sainsbury’s has also said it will prioritise vulnerable and elderly people for online deliveries. Iceland has been planning special opening hours for the elderly.

11.50am: ASI suspends dealing

Aberdeen Standard Investments has suspended dealing  in the  £1.7 billion Standard Life Investments UK Real Estate Fund and £1.1 billion Aberdeen UK Property Fund.

Full story here

11.20am: Coronavirus drug

A flu drug is claimed to be effective in treating coronavirus.

Medical experts in China have claimed Favipiravir, the active ingredient in a Japanese anti-flu medicine called Avigan, helps quicken recovery.

It was trialled on 340 patients with the disease in China.

Patients who took Favipiravir recovered more quickly and showed greater lung improvement compared with patients not given the drug.

11.15am: Glastonbury off

The Glastonbury music festival has been cancelled amid growing fears over the coronavirus crisis.

Organisers have pulled the plug on the event this June, where Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar were due to headline.

11am: FTSE continues to fall

The index of leading shares was down 273.36 points (5.16%). 5,021.54.

10.45am New rail station

A revamped station for Motherwell will create “a gateway to the Glasgow City Region” and help match the town’s development plans, say those behind the scheme.

Full story here

10.30am TV production halted

Filming of EastEnders and River City has been suspended and weekly episodes cut as television production becomes the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

Full story here

9.45am Economy grows

Scotland’s GDP grew by 0.2% in real terms during the fourth quarter of 2019, covering the period October to December. The UK quarterly GDP remained flat at 0%.

8.45am: Markets

stock exchange

The FTSE100 index has opened sharply lower. In the first half hour of trading shares among leading companies were 3.87% or 205 points down at 5,090.02.

8.15am: Collagen Solutions

The Glasgow stem cell company expects the loss for the year to be materially greater than anticipated due to increased costs from a development and manufacturing contract which has taken longer than originally anticipated.

The related accounting treatment requires a one-time write-down of c.£900,000 recognising the full loss over the life of the development portion of the contract only.

The accounting treatment does not reflect a change in the company’s commercial view of the full value of this contract inclusive of the contract manufacturing portion.

The company is facing “multiple uncertainties” that may also impact year-end revenue, pushing some sales into the next financial year.  These include closing certain contracts in late-stage discussions, and delivery of collagen and tissue products for which the company has already received orders.

Some customers are delaying their investment decisions because of economic and business uncertainty due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The delivery of collagen and tissue products is at risk due to evolving government travel and transport restrictions and potential reduced capacity of import and export offices, testing services, and other aspects of the supply chain.

8am: Royal Highland Show

Royal Highland Show

The organisers of the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh have been forced to cancel this year’s event.

The decision was taken by RHASS Directors who met ‘virtually’ and is in line with the Scottish and UK Government’s policy and guidance on gatherings and social distancing.

Full story here

7.30am: Morrisons

Morrisons

Supermarket chain Morrisons – which is in a sector that enjoys some insulation in the crisis – said that a decision on a further special dividend has been deferred, maximising flexibility around how it prioritises use of its strong cash flow.

Morrisons has guaranteed pay for sick and affected colleagues during the coronavirus outbreak.

Figures for the year to 2 February show profit before tax and exceptionals up 3.0% to £408m (2018/19: £396m. Total revenue down 1.1% to £17.5bn (2018/19: £17.7bn).

Final ordinary dividend of 4.84p, taking the full-year ordinary dividend to 6.77p, and full-year total dividend to 8.77p (2018/19: 12.60p)

In the first six weeks of 2020, like-for-like sales were up 5% as shoppers stockpiled goods.

7.20am: Superdry

Fashion retailer Superdry said that not only will it not meet profit guidance issued as recently as January, but that it will now not issue guidance for this year.

7.18 am: Microfocus

Software firm MicroFocus confirmed that it will now not pay a final dividend.

7.15am: Mitchells & Butlers

sheep Heid

Pub chain Mitchells & Butlers said recent trading has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and the containment measures taken by the Government, including the recommendation to avoid pubs and restaurants which is now expected to lead to a further significant downturn in sales.

“Given the rapidly evolving nature of the situation it is impossible to quantify the impact COVID-19 could have on our financial performance,” it said in a trading statement.

“However, we expect a significant reduction in our expected outturn for 2020 and, given this uncertainty, can no longer provide detailed guidance on the expected forward financial performance for the year.

“We are working proactively to protect our trading and cash flow through a number of actions including suspension of the capital programme and reduction of costs across the business.”

Marston’s

The brewer and pub chain said it will suspend rent for tenants and lessees on a case by case basis where it is appropriate to do so.

It has reduced capital expenditure for the foreseeable future and it is unlikely to paying a dividend in May in order to retain £20m in the business.

For the 24 weeks to 14 March 2020, like-for-like sales in pubs were 1% below last year.

The company said: “We anticipate that the Government’s advice will result in significantly lower sales in the coming weeks.

“We expect a reduction to our expectations for 2020.”

6.30am Markets

US stock market futures were indicating a weaker open for Wall Street, despite a colossal injection of financial support to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Asian stock markets initially followed Wall Street higher after governments around the world unveiled stimulus plans, but investors are indicating that more will be needed.

Wall Street’s leading indexes were up by more than 5% following a $1 trillion (£830bn) package of support from Washington and the UK’s £330bn of business loans.

Early Asian rises were soon reversed. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong was down by 1.9%, and China’s Shanghai Composite fell by 0.5%.

China’s finance ministry said on Tuesday it will increase export tax rebates on almost 1,500 products from 20 March.

However, Goldman Sachs said that China’s economy will likely shrink 9% in the first quarter,

Oil prices have also steadied after sliding on Tuesday to their lowest level in four years.



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