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Tuesday update

DB Live: Standard Life ‘good signals’; Moss Bros; Vodafone

4.45pm: Markets

Investors were encouraged by the latest measures to prop up the economy. The FTSE 100 edged above 6,000 before closing 55.04 points (0.93%) higher at 5,994.77.

Oil prices rose after OPEC’s Middle East heavyweights pledged additional cuts, instilling hopes in the market that further production reductions could help accelerate the drawdown of the enormous oil oversupply.

WTI Crude was up 5.05% to $25.36, and Brent Crude was 1.62% higher on the day at $30.12.

4pm: SPFL call over dossier

SPFL calls for unity after Rangers’ probe bid fails

Full story here

12.40pm: Furlough scheme; Sturgeon boosts business grants

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the scheme to pay the wages of more than seven million furloughed workers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists the lockdown remains and announced that the government will top up its business grants offer by £31 million to help charities and others.

Full story here 

9am: London opens higher

The FTSE 100 got off to a positive start ahead of an update from Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the UK job retention scheme and the economic support being provided by the government during the coronavirus lockdown.

The blue-chip index opened 36 points up at 5,975.94.

7.15am: Property deal completes

German real estate fund manager KanAm is understood to have completed a £31 million deal to acquire a newly-redeveloped block in central Edinburgh.

It is one of the few deals to complete last month.

Full story here

7am: Standard Life Aberdeen AGM

Keith Skeoch

In a statement ahead of todays AGM, Keith Skeoch, chief executive said the company had seen only a “modest impact” from coronavirus.  

Estimated assets under management and administration at 30 April was £490bn, with estimated net outflows in the first four months of the year of some £24bn.  

However, excluding around £25bn that relates to withdrawals by the Lloyds Banking Group, previously announced , it saw estimated net inflows of some £1bn. Mr Skeoch said this was “an encouraging signal’.

He added: “During these turbulent times, we continue to focus on what we can control and are continuing the process of reshaping our cost base to ensure that it is future fit.  We are making progress towards our synergy targets, but the external environment may impact the phasing of some of our activities over this year.

“We entered this period with a strong balance sheet and during these unprecedented times, we have continued to strengthen our position through the sale in March of some of our HDFC Life shares for net cash proceeds of £237m.  

“Our commitment to pay the final dividend in respect of 2019 is supported by our capital strength.  The strength of our balance sheet and our financial resilience will serve us well as we navigate our way through this period of turbulence.”

The AGM is being held at the company’s head office in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh but is closed to the public.

7am: Ryanair returns


Ryanair has announced plans to return to 40% of normal flight schedules from 1 July, subject to Government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted, and effective public health measures being put in place at airports.

Full story here

7am Vodafone retains dividend

The mobile phone giant pledged to pay its 9 cents per share dividend despite the covid turmoil.

The move means it remains the FTSE-100’s eighth biggest dividend payer, according to research from AJ Bell.

Net losses for the year through to March amounted to €455m, compared to losses of €7.64bn on-year, when the company booked higher writedowns and a loss on discontinued Indian operations.

Revenue rose 3% to €44.97bn and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 2.6% to €14.88bn.

The group’s biggest global operations are now in Germany after it bought the assets there of Liberty Global.

Liberty’s move last week to merge its Virgin Media UK broadband and entertainment business with those of Telefonica’s O2 was seen as a blow to Vodafone as it had won the lucrative contract to run Virgin Media’s mobile business, taking over from BT’s EE division. That will be done by O2.

Net debt, which was €48.1 billion at the end of the last quarter, was €42 billion.

7am: Moss Bros reopens

The formalwear retailer has decided to re-open its e-commerce operations from 13 May, initially with a reduced work force.

The board also noted the Government’s recent update regarding the potential phased reopening of shops from 1 June and is developing plans to reopen its stores in an orderly manner.

7am: Morrisons

Morrisons has reported an 11% jump in like-for-like sales over the past three weeks as shoppers flock to its stores amid the Covid-10 pandemic.

Trading during the first quarter was highly volatile and the firm said Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges and changed both its near-term priorities and how it operates.

For the 14-week period from February 3 to May 10, the supermarket chain said like for like sales excluding fuel were up 5.7% – with retail sales up 5.1% and wholesale 0.6%.

Today’s top Daily Business stories

Sunak tipped to extend furlough scheme to September

Injury monitoring device adapted for safe distancing

SBN hires foreign service vet as latest US ambassador

Monday 5pm: Ferry jobs axed

1,100 workers at P&O Ferries – a quarter of the workforce – are to be made redundant as part of a plan to make the business “viable and sustainable”, the company said.

Monday 4.45pm: London close

Investors remained nervous over renewed outbreaks of the virus overseas and Wall Street’s fall. Gainers in London included Halfords (up 26%) on the back of new measures encouraging cycling.

The FTSE 100 edge out of the red to close 3.75 points (0.063%) higher at 5,939.73.

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