Wednesday Update

Daily Business Live: Laura Ashley; Zoom; Boohoo; Netflix

7.30pm: Zoom upgrades

Zoom Video Communications is upgrading the encryption features on its video conferencing app to quell safety concerns as its users surged by 50% in the past three weeks.

Zoom now has over 300 million daily users after adding 100 million in the last 22 days, the company said,

4.45pm: Market close

The FTSE 100 closed at 5,770.63 +129.60 (2.30%)

4.15pm: Laura Ashley deal

Gordon Brothers, the global advisory, restructuring, and investment firm, has acquired the global Laura Ashley brand, archives, and related intellectual property from the Laura Ashley group’s administrators.

11am: Builders demand support

Construction firms, currently unable to work, are calling for the same support offered to the hospitality sector as they see cash beginning to dry up.

Full story here

8.30am: Bank of England governor’s warning

The Bank of England’s new governor has issued a warning to the government about its lockdown exit strategy.

Full story here

8.20am: Ted Baker chairman

Ted Baker, the global lifestyle brand, has appointed John Barton as non-executive chairman from July.

Full story here

8.15am: Market open

Investors have paused for breath after yesterday’s rout. The FTSE 100 has opened 38 points, or 0.7%, higher at 5678 points.

7.30am: Inflation falls

Inflation slipped in March on the back of falling clothes and fuel prices.

The Office for National Statistics said the rate of consumer price index inflation fell to 1.5% in March from 1.7% in February, and the lowest since December.

7am: Boohoo in strong position

Online fashion retailer Boohoo saw a strong end to the financial year ended 29 February and in the first two weeks of FY21 this trading momentum was maintained.

Since the middle of March, trading has been mixed, initially with a marked decrease in year-on-year growth. Performance has improved in more recent weeks and the company is now seeing improved year-on-year growth.

It reported a 54% rise in pre-tax profits to £92.2m on a 44% lift in revenue to £1.2 billion.

John Lyttle, CEO, said it has been a “great year for boohoo” and it is at times like this when its ability to be agile is tested.

“The group is underpinned by its incredibly strong balance sheet and is well-placed to leverage its scalable multi-brand platform and to continue to disrupt fashion markets around the world.”

The company said it is offering “industry-leading” payment terms to all suppliers and paying promptly. It has also set up an emergency fund to help them.

Bellway directors donation

Directors of house builder Bellway have agreed to a 20% reduction in basic salary and fees effective from 1 April until 31 May which will be donated to various charities. The company will match-fund the donations with a contribution to its national charity partner, Cancer Research UK.

Moss Bros takeover move

The board of Moss Bros is attempting to halt a move by Brigadier Acqusition Company to let its £22.6m offer for the high street tailor to lapse.

Moss Bros said Brigadier was seeking a ruling from the City Takeover Panel to invoke a condition of its offer to scrap the deal.

Shareholder meetings to approve the deal are still scheduled to be held on 29 April.

Early last month, Moss Bros agreed to the sale, sending shares in the company soaring.

Moss Bros said it will take all necessary action to show that certain requirements have not been met and that the offer should not therefore be permitted to lapse.

Weir AGM

Weir Group said its Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday 28 April 2020 at 2.30pm, at 1 West Regent Street, Glasgow.

To comply with Government measures on gatherings that are ‘essential for work purposes’ shareholders should not attend in person and any shareholders that seek to attend will not be admitted. 

6.45am: Markets expected to rise

The FTSE 100 is expected to open a marginally higher as investors keep a close eye on the ongoing rout in the oil markets.

Spread-better IG expects the leading index to open up around 21 points after ending Tuesday’s session 172 points lower at 5,641.

Oil falls again

Brent crude has fallen to its lowest level since 1999, touching just $15.98 per barrel.

5.30am: Netflix soars

Streaming service Netflix has reported a record increase in subscriptions as people spend more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

It added 15.8 million customers during the first quarter – double forecasts – taking the total to 182.9 million at the end of March.

It was the biggest three-month gain in the company’s 13-year history and was helped by demand for series such as true-crime documentary “Tiger King” and reality show “Love is Blind” as well as Spanish-language thriller “Money Heist”.

Revenues rose 28% compared to the same period last year to $5.77bn while profit more than doubled to $709m.

It is looking to add 7.5 million more users in the current April-June.

However, the streaming service, which is behind some multi-million dollar productions, said shutdowns have halted “almost all” filming around the world.

10.30pm: Saudi hints on oil

Saudi Arabia has hinted for a second time in two weeks that it is ready to take further measures with OPEC to restore oil market stability.

WTI for June dropped 43% to $11.57 a barrel in New York. The thinly traded May contract closed at $10.01 a barrel.

Brent crude futures for June slumped 24% to close at $19.33 a barrel.

9.30pm US closes lower

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.67% while the S&P 500 lost 3.07% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.48%.

Tuesday 4.45pm: London close

Investors took a battering as oil was in focus. Brent for June delivery fell to as low as $18.10, its lowest since November 2001.

The FTSE 100 closed sharply lower at 5,641.03  −171.80  (2.96%)

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