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Tuesday Update

Daily Business Live: ‘Boris a fighter’; Gove self-isolates

5.05pm: Markets

Investors bought equities on the back of growing hope that the coronavirus is peaking. The FTSE 100 index closed at 5,704.45 +122.06 (2.19%)

5pm: Boris ‘a fighter’

Speaking about Boris Johnson’s condition in hospital, Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary, said: “I am confident he will pull through because if there is one thing I know about this Prime Minister, he is a fighter.”

4.30pm: Dick and Angel series

Dick and Angel Strawbridge, whose conversion of a 19th century French chateau has been a hit series for Channel 4, have teamed up with a Glasgow company for a new DIY show.

Full story here

12.30pm: PM does not have pneumonia

Boris Johnson is “breathing without assistance” in intensive care and does not have pneumonia, Downing Street said.

Amid concern and speculation about his condition, the PM’s spokesman said he was “stable overnight and remains in good spirits”.

Mr Johnson, who was taken to hospital on Sunday night with breathing difficulties, received “standard oxygen treatment”.  

11.10am: Gove self-isolates

Michael Gove

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has gone into self-isolation after a member of his family showed symptoms of coronavirus.

He is following the official guidance by going into quarantine for 14 days, but was not himself feeling ill, according to his advisers. Mr Gove withdrew after giving a round of broadcast interviews this morning.

It is understood he plans to continue working, although this will add to concerns over the functioning of the UK government after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was rushed to hospital on Sunday night.

Mr Johnson’s condition worsened quickly on Sunday and he was moved into intensive care last night amid concern that he could be out of action for weeks during the biggest crisis to afflict the world since the second world war.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is in temporary charge of government affairs. 

11.05am: Radio boost

Ofcom is setting out how it will license ‘small-scale digital audio broadcasting (DAB)’, which will provide a low-cost route for local commercial, community and specialist music stations to take to the digital airwaves. 

Full report here

8.45am: Markets

Investors continued to buy equities on hopes that the coronavirus may be peaking. Following a barnstorming rally on Wall Street yesterday, the FTSE 100 stood at 5,746.50 +164.11 (2.94%) in early trade.

7am: Nucleus

David Ferguson

David Ferguson, CEO of Nucleus Financial, said it is too early to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the business.

The Scottish the wrap platform, reported a 16.3% year-on-year increase in assets under administration to £16.1bn compared to a FTSE All-Share Index increase of 14.2% year-on-year.

However, the board has decided not to recommend a dividend until there is more certainty around the term and impact on markets.

Full report here

WH Smith

WHSmith has raised more than £165m to shore up its balance sheet amid the coronavirus crisis.

The retailer said it had placed 15.8 million new shares at 1,050p per share – a 4% discount on yesterday’s closing price. Investors have subscribed to the shares, raising approximately £165.9m.

Cineworld

Cineworld’s entire estate of 787 cinemas in 10 countries has been closed as a result of COVID-19 and the company is in discussions with landlords, the film studios and major suppliers, and is curtailing all currently unnecessary capital expenditure.  

“This is a painful but necessary process as before the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, we were excited and confident about the Group’s future prospects.  We are also discussing the group’s ongoing liquidity requirements with our RCF banks.

“We continue to monitor progress of the group’s proposed acquisition of Cineplex, Inc.”

The board has decided to suspend payment of the 2019 fourth quarter dividend of 4.25c per share and upcoming 2020 quarterly dividends. 

Many of employees and the executive directors have voluntarily agreed to defer payment of their full salaries and any bonuses to which they are entitled.   Similarly, during this period the non-executive directors will defer their fees.

Aggreko AGM

The board has switched the AGM scheduled for Glasgow to 21 Palmer Street, London and it will be restricted to the formal business of the AGM with no corporate presentation or questions. It will be attended by two attendees Shareholders should not seek to attend the AGM in person and will not be admitted.

As announced on 23 March, the board has withdrawn its recommendation of the final dividend for the year

6.30am: Market open

London Stock Exchange

The FTSE 100 is expected to make a positive start on growing optimism about slowing the spread of coronavirus. 

Spread betters expect London’s index of top companies to open 55 points higher, having closed 167 points, or 3.08%, higher at 5,582. 

Asian stocks are higher, led by the Shanghai Composite and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo, while, overnight, Wall Street enjoyed a strong rally, with the Dow Jones surging 1,627 points or 7.7% to just under 22,678 (see below).

12.01am: IPOs slump

Markets have remained open during the global lockdown over Covid-19 but, unsurprisingly, there is little appetite for IPOs.

EY’s latest IPO tracker says the decisive win for the Conservative party in December’s UK general election and more clarity over Brexit, laid the foundations for a rush of flotations this year as confidence returned.

In the first two months of 2020 there were three listings on the Main Market and two admissions to AIM, raising about £615 million, equivalent to a 28% increase on the entire proceeds of the first quarter of 2019.

However, activity since last month has come to a standstill.

10.30pm: US rises

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 7.73% while the S&P 500 rose by 7.03%. The Nasdaq 100 also had a big day, pushing above the 8,000 marker as prices in all three indices crafted fresh three-week-highs.

Investors were buoyed by hope that the coronavirus in New York City has started to see some evidence of new cases levelling out.  

9.30pm: Sterling and Johnson

The pound fell sharply against the dollar and euro this evening after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care.

Monday 4.45pm: Markets

The FTSE enjoyed a buoyant session on the back of encouraging reports on the coronavirus. The index closed at 5,582.39 +166.89 (3.08%)



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