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Monday Update

DB Live: Starmer self-isolates; Arm sold; private sector grows

4.30pm: London closes lower

The FTSE 100 closed at 6,026.25 −5.84 (0.097%) following a strong opening. Buying faded as traders offset enthusiasm around M&A activity with the prospect of Covid-19 tightening put a squeeze on economic activity.

Pub group JD Wetherspoon fell 1.35% after it emerged that 66 members of staff have tested positive for the coronavirus across 50 of its outlets.

Online supermarket Ocado was 3.93% firmer on encouraging signals about his M&S tie-up and ahead of its third-quarter trading statement.

3.30pm: Starmer self-isolating

Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is self-isolating after a member of his household showed possible Covid-19 symptoms. He will be absent from today’s parliamentary debate on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to override parts of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU.

According to NHS guidelines if a person in someone’s household tests positive for coronavirus they must self-isolate for 14 days.

Mr Johnson said he had spoken to Starmer to pass on his best wishes.

Deloitte delays results

Big Four accountancy firm Deloitte UK has delayed its year-end results. The UK arm normally releases its figures in August.

A spokesman said: “We’re keeping under review when we will publish our results.”

9.10am: Rule of Six admission

Dr Christine Tait-Burkard, expert in immunity at Edinburgh University, admits on BBC Radio Scotland that the figure behind Rule of Six “might have been pulled out of a hat” and adds that “whatever the government chose is relatively obscure to everyone.”

8.15am: London lifted by vaccine and deals

Hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine and some big ticket merger-and-acquisition deals in Japan and the US helped give London stocks a lift.

The FTSE 100 index was up 16.31 points (0.27%) 6,048.40, off opening high of 6,082.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was up 79.95 points, or 0.5%.

7am: Scottish private sector returns to growth

The Scottish private sector returned to growth during August, with business activity rising at the quickest pace for more than six years, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland PMI.

Malcolm Buchanan, Scotland Board chairman at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The Scottish private sector showed some very encouraging signs in August.

“Business activity rose at the quickest rate since July 2014 and new orders increased for the first time since February, amid reports that looser lockdown restrictions had allowed the economy to reopen and released pent-up client demand.

“Still, things are not back to normal. Capacity pressures remained weak and, as a result, firms made further cuts to their workforces. The rate of job shedding remained sharp, despite easing further from April’s record.

Across the 12 monitored UK areas, only the North East of England and Northern Ireland registered a weaker outlook than Scotland.

Martin angry over restrictions

JD Wetherspoon

Pub chain boss Tim Martin has taken aim at the restrictions placed on bars. The chairman of Wetherspoons rejects claims that they are “dangerous places”.

Full story here

See also: Sir Rocco Forte: ‘end draconian lockdown’

Costain falls to loss

Construction firm Costain slumped to a pre-tax loss of £92.3m during the first half of this year from an £8.4m profit last time. Turnover dipped to £548.7m from £599.2m.

But Costain bosses are confident about future prospects after securing £2bn of future orders during the period and shaking-up management systems in a bid to avoid future problem contracts.

Results were hit by a £45.4m charge on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road contract and £49.3m on the Peterborough & Huntingdon gas station job.

Arm sold

One of Britain’s most successful tech companies, Arm Holdings, is being sold by its Japanese owners for $40 billion.

US company Nvidia will pay SoftBank $21.5bn in shares and $12bn in cash for the Cambridge-based chip designer although the deal is still subject to regulatory approval in the UK and could face opposition from its new owners’ rivals.

ARM’s technology is at the heart of most smartphones, among many other devices.

Nvidia has promised that the UK operations will remain and that it will hire more staff and retain ARM’s brand. It said that the deal would create “the premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence” (AI).

Hundreds of companies such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Qualcomm license its innovations. ARM says 180 billion chips have been made based on its solutions.

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