DB Live: Loganair axes flights; GDP edges ahead
4.30pm: Investors cheer Sunak package
Investors viewed the Chancellor’s latest package of support measures favourably and at least allowing struggling companies to buy more time.
The FTSE 100 index, however, was more focused on US stimulus hopes, as it pushed back above the 6,000 threshold to close 38.62 points (0.65%) higher at 6,016.65, a three-week high. Mining, pharma and energy stocks were the biggest gainers.
3pm: Job support package
Pubs, hotels and restaurants were offered a new lifeline today as the Chancellor unveiled a six-months expansion of his Job Support Scheme to help businesses forced to shut over the winter because of the pandemic.
12.30pm: Jobs at risk at Edinburgh Woollen Mill
High street clothing chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which owns Peacocks, Jaeger and Jane Norman, plans to appoint administrators in an attempt to save the business and 24,000 jobs.
8.20am: New jobs plan
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a new plan to support jobs later today as the government tries to slow the renewed spread of COVID-19.
His new measures comes ahead of plans to extend the closure of some businesses, particularly in the north of England.
“The chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the job support scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months,” said a spokeswoman at the Treasury.
It understood that he will announce a limited extension to the furlough scheme today as the government faces mounting criticism over fresh local lockdown restrictions across the country.
Mr Sunak will outline new support for people and businesses in England facing strict new measures set to come into force next week, including the closure of pubs and restaurants.
There will be keen interest in how his statement relates to other parts of the UK and the Scottish government has delayed revealing details of its £40m rescue package.
8.15am: London shrugs off GDP data
Markets shrugged off subdued GDP data and continued to benefit from hints of more US stimulus, with the FTSE 100 breaking above 6,000 to 6,014.5 before falling back to 5,997.42, up 20 points.
7am: GDP edges up
Eat Out to Help Out helped boost the UK economy which grew by 2.1% in August.
But the figure from the Office for National Statistics was below expectations and the economy is still 9.2% smaller than before the pandemic struck.
It marked the fourth consecutive month of expansion following the slump induced by the coronavirus lockdown.
However, growth in August was slower than the 8.7% expansion seen in June and the 6.6% rise in July.
British Chambers of Commerce head of economics Suren Thiru said: “The recovery may be running out of steam, with output still well below pre-crisis levels.
“Although the UK remains on course to exit recession in the third quarter, the looming triple threat of surging unemployment, further restrictions and a disorderly end to the transition period means the recent rally in economic output is likely to be short-lived.”
British Land resumes dividends
British Land Company said it will restart dividend payments next month after rent collections improved for its retail and office properties and it completed some disposals.
Although real estate investment trusts are required to pay 100% of their profits as dividends, the FTSE 250-listed group said it will pay out 80% of underlying earnings per share in the previous six-month period, with payments made semi-annually instead on its previous quarterly basis.
Transport group Stagecoach said bus passenger demand had been steadily recovering since April as COVID-related restrictions were relaxed, with commercial revenues returning to around 50-60% of the prior year levels. The company is now operating vehicle mileage in excess of 93% of prior year levels.
Chief executive, Martin Griffiths, said: “While the situation remains fluid, we have made progress in the restoration of our networks to close to pre-COVID levels and in growing passenger volumes safely within the current restricted environment.
“We have a strong business, with good liquidity, devolved operating companies closely focused on our customers and local communities, good financial discipline and a supportive relationship with government and our local authority partners.”
US markets enjoyed an uplift on Thursday after it appeared that talks on an economic stimulus package were back on the agenda.
The Dow Jones Indistrials Average rose 122 points while the broader-based S&P 500 climbed 27 points.
1am: Loganair cancels flights
Loganair has cancelled Glasgow and Inverness flights from its Sumburgh schedule this winter as a result of continued low demand.
The flights are due to be suspended later this month, though a limited schedule of Glasgow flights will be retained over the Christmas and New Year period in anticipation of an uplift in demand over the festive period.
Services will resume as part of Loganair’s summer 2021 timetable from late March.
The axed flights were announced as Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles recently revealing that bookings were down by around 60% as fewer people travel.
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