Daily Business Live: Saudi hints on oil; Primark; Joules
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%.
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%)
4pm: New funds for Self-employed
Grant funding for the newly self-employed and SMEs in distress will be available in the coming days.
1.30pm: Quiz secures funding
Quiz, the Glasgow-based fast fashion brand, has agreed an extension of its existing banking facilities with HSBC, which had previously been due to expire on 23 April 2020, until the end of July 2020.
12.30pm: Credit claimants
Number of claimants for universal credit in Scotland since 15 March is 130,000, compared to 15,500 this time last year, says Nicola Sturgeon.
11am: John Lewis falls
John Lewis has seen a 17% slump in sales during the lockdown and says in the worst case it could see revenue this year plummet by more than a third.
10am: GDP could fall by a third
The economic impact of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic could see Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product fall by around a third, according to a report by the Chief Economist.
8.15am: Market open
Investors are suffering from a perfect storm of low confidence, weak global demand, virus fears and an oil price slump. The FTSE 100 opened sharply lower at 5,710.55 −102.28 (1.76%).
8am: UK employment at record pre-virus
UK employment was at a record high in the three months to February, before the effects of the coronavirus lockdown took hold.
Official figures showed 76.6% of people aged 16 to 64 were in paid work, up from 76.4% in the previous quarter.
Unemployment was estimated at 4%, slightly higher than the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.
Scotland’s employment rate estimate rose over the quarter to 75.4% and remained close to the highest on record. The unemployment rate estimate fell over the quarter to 3.7%, also close to the record low.
7am: Primark plunges to zero
Primark has seen its sales plunge from £650 million a month to zero as it lacks an online offer and all its 376 stores in 12 countries are closed.
Parent firm Associated British Foods has written down the value of the chain’s stock by £284m to reflect realistic pricing when stores re-open.
Primark generates about half of ABFs’ revenue and profit.
ABF made the announcement alongside the group’s half-year results to 29 February which showed a 41% plunge in pre-tax profits to £298m. Operating profits were 38% lower.
Cath Kidston to close stores
Fashion retailer Cath Kidston’s 60 UK stores are likely to be closed and the business will focus on trading online and wholesale.
The owner of the modern vintage fashion retailer, is buying its brand through a potentially controversial insolvency process.
The company’s stores and the jobs of the majority of its 740 UK employees are not expected to be salvaged and it is likely to become digital only, according to Sky News.
Apparel retailer Joules has struck new financing arrangements and reported better than expected online sales.
Tullow hires from Cairn
Tullow Oil has named former Cairn India head Rahul Dhir as its chief executive effective from 1 July.
Mr Dhir led Cairn’s Indian unit until 2012 and in 2013 he was a founder of Delonex Energy, an Africa focussed E&P firm that subsequently made discoveries in Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya.
London Stock Exchange
LSE said it would pay its final dividend for 2019 as the company reported higher first-quarter profit boosted by increased equity trading and clearing activity.
Gross profit for the three months to the end of March rose 13% to £555m as total income increased 13% to £615m.
5.30am: Asia markets and oil
Asian markets followed Wall Street’s lead with the Nikkei (-2.17%), Hang Seng (-2.29%), Shanghai Comp (-1.35%), ASX (-1.83%) and Kospi (-1.68%) all down.
US oil prices recovered this morning to trade in positive territory after sinking below zero for the first time.
4am: Korea leader health alert
US media group CNN reported that the US is monitoring the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after receiving information that he may be in “grave danger” following cardiovascular surgery last week.
But the Yonhap news agency in South Korea denied the news which emerged after the Kim failed to attend events on 15 April commemorating the birth of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation..