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Thursday update

DB Live: Scotty Brand; Sharma test; Standard Life deal

6pm: Sharma negative for virus

Alok Sharma unwell

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has tested negative for coronavirus.

Mr Sharma became unwell during a debate in the Commons on Wednesday evening, and was forced to self-isolate.

His condition raised concerns about the decision to recall MPs to Westminster.

5pm: Electric charging

Germany said all petrol stations will have to offer electric car charging to help boost consumer demand for the vehicles as part of its €130 billion economic recovery plan.

4.50pm: Markets

The European Central Bank announced that it will expand and extend its pandemic emergency purchase programme.

The PEPP will now purchase an additional €600bn, taking the total size of the programme to €1,350bn, and will be extended to at least the end of June 2021 (previously end of December this year). This is in addition ongoing asset purchases.

The increase in quantitative easing took markets by surprise, leading to a significant rally in government bonds.

In London, the FTSE gave up some of its recent gains, closing down 40.97 points (0.64%) at 6,341.44.

3pm: Scotty Brand renews deal at Asda

Scottish food producer, Scotty Brand, is increasing the amount of strawberries grown this year, after its UK contract with ASDA was renewed for another year. More than 200 tonnes of berries grown in Perthshire will be available in 200 UK stores.

2.30pm: Hotel sold

The Royal Dunkeld Hotel in Perthshire has been sold.

Full story here

10am: Freelancers closing down

One in five skilled freelancers expect to close their business because they have been ineligible for government support during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Full story here

8.10am: London open

The FTSE 100 has fallen after hitting near three-month highs as investors take stock amid continuing certainty over the global economy.

The index was 0.3% lower at 6,361 points shortly after the opening.

Investors are awaiting a decision by the European Central Bank at 12.45pm today. It is expected to increase its bond purchases in a bid to further stimulate the economy as coronavirus cases drop.

7.15am: Standard Life sells down India stake

Standard Life Aberdeen has sold shares in HDFC Life Insurance in India, worth about £207 million.

The Edinburgh-based investment company said its wholly owned subsidiary 2006 Ltd sold 40 million shares on the National Stock Exchange of India and the Bombay Stock Exchange at a price of INR496.40 each, about £5.25.

Standard Life said it intends to use the INR19.66 billion received from the sale for general corporate purposes.

Standard Life’s remaining shareholding in HDFC Life is now just over 10%. Based on the share price of Rs 517.80, the value of this remaining shareholding would be approximately £1.1bn.

7am: Lookers axeing 1,500 jobs

Car dealership firm Lookers is planning to close 12 sites and lay off 1,500 employees.

Full story here

Car sales slump

Car showroom Perth

Sales of new cars fell by 89% last month as the coronavirus lockdown swept through the trade.

Full story here

Aston Martin Lagonda cuts jobs

Aston Martin

Aston Martin Lagonda is cutting 500 jobs and doubling annual cost savings to £20m as part of a “fundamental reset” of the business, which includes a planned reduction in front-engined sports car production to rebalance supply to demand.

Full story here

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