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Tuesday update

Daily Business Live: Lockdown update; car sales plunge

4.45pm: London closes higher, US rises

The FTSE 100 stayed in positive territory on coronavirus recovery hopes, closing at 5,849.42 +95.64 (1.66%).

Wall Street’s main indexes rose on the back of a recovery in oil prices as a number of countries eased coronavirus-induced restrictions in an attempt to revive their economies.

The S&P 500 has climbed about 30% from its March lows on the back of unprecedented stimulus measures and signs of a plateau in new COVID-19 cases in many parts of the world.

3pm: Government accused of failing Virgin

Branson and Virgin website

Jim McMahon, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on the news that Virgin Atlantic is making more than 3,000 employees redundant, said: “This terrible news is heartbreaking for Virgin Atlantic staff and their families, and another major blow for the aviation industry.

“The Government is failing workers by not stepping in and protecting these jobs.

“Labour has consistently argued for a sector specific deal for aviation, and the Government must do more to ensure airlines and airports can operate safely when the time is right to transition out of the lockdown.”

12.30pm: No lifting of lockdown

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “highly unlikely” that there will be any significant changes to the lockdown at the next review on Thursday. She confirmed a further 44 deaths in Scotland, taking the total to 1,620.

“We are all keen to get the economy moving again as soon as we can,” she said.

“Where you can work from home it is likely we will ask you to do that for some time.”

Discussions are under way with industry groups and trade unions about those businesses where social distancing is possible and where appropriate PPE might be possible, such as hairdressers.

Responding to accounts of people travelling to a drive-through coffee outlet, she said: “You should ask yourself if going for a drive-thru coffee really is an essential journey.”

Full story

8am: Market open

The FTSE 100 followed good gains on Wall Street and Asian markets with a strong start to the session, up 93.01 points (1.62%) at 5,846.79.

7am: Sigma chairman

Private rented sector company Sigma Capital has appointed Ian Sutcliffe as non-executive chairman with immediate effect.

Most recently he was group chief executive of Countryside Properties, until his retirement earlier this year, and senior independent director at Ashtead Group.

He was also previously UK chief executive of Taylor Wimpey and chief operating officer of SEGRO.

Current chairman David Sigsworth will remain on the Sigma board as senior independent non-executive director.

The Edinburgh-based company is a residential development and urban regeneration specialist, with offices in Manchester and London. Its principal focus is on the delivery of large scale housing schemes for the private rented sector.

5.30am: Car sales plunge

Vardy Dundee Car Store

New car sales slumped to their lowest monthly total since February 1946.

Preliminary figures from industry body the SMMT indicate a 97% drop compared with last year.

Only about 4,000 cars were registered, mainly fleet sales as dealers remained shut.

The 4,000 figure for April compares to the 161,064 new cars that were registered in April last year.

The industry body said it now expects 1.68 million new car registrations in 2020 compared with 2.3 million in 2019.

10.30pm: Markets

The FTSE 100 is being called higher ahead of Tuesday’s open as traders take confidence from plans to reopen the UK from the coronavirus lockdown.

London’s blue chip index was pencilled more than 82 points higher by spread betters on the IG platform.

The FTSE 100 closed barely unmoved at 5,753.78, down  9.28 (0.16%).

Brent crude was up 4% to $28.30 per barrel and WIT up 6.2% to $21.65.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, which closed more than 4% lower on Monday, rose 0.84% in early trade. Japan and South Korea are closed today for holidays.

US stocks staged a comeback to end higher as concerns sparked by fresh US-China tensions were outweighed by surge in big tech companies and oil price gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 26 points, or 0.11%,, the S&P 500 rose 12 points, or 0.42%, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 106 points, or 1.23%.

Shares of Berkshire fell 2.6% and weighed on the S&P 500 after the conglomerate posted a record quarterly net loss of nearly $50 billion.

Warren Buffett acknowledged at Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday that the global pandemic could significantly damage the economy and his investments.

Shares in airlines fell by up to 8% after Buffet said Berkshire has dumped its entire stake in airline stocks.

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