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Thursday Update

DB Live: Marston’s axes 2,150 jobs; Ryanair cuts schedule

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4.30pm: FTSE 100 slumps

London’s FTSE 100 index fell to a near-two week low as concerns grew over new coronavirus restrictions.

Brexit uncertainty also prompted investors to book profits after some recent gains.

After slumping as much as 2.5% during the session, the blue-chip index closed down 1.7% or 102.54 points at 5,832.52 to mark its biggest daily decline since late September, with energy, insurance and mining stocks leading declines.

Pub operator Marston’s was 1.4% lower after it announced 2,150 job cuts caused by the latest restrictions.

Noon: London down on virus restrictions

Stocks were firmly in the red amid tightening coronavirus restrictions across Europe, including London, and as hopes of further US stimulus faded.

The FTSE 100 was 120 points or 2% lower at 5,814, extending earlier losses in line with European peers.

London looks likely to be plunged into Tier-2 Covid-19 restrictions from Saturday.

There was no sign of a pre-election stimulus package in the US and Brexit was also very much in focus, with the two-day European Union summit due to kick off later.

10am: Star Pubs fined

Heineken-owned Star Pubs, headquartered in Edinburgh, has been fined £2 million in the High Court after being accused of forcing tenants to sell “unreasonable levels” of its own alcohol.

See more: Scots publicans want legal cover

8am: London falls sharply at open

The FTSE 100 fell 87.69 points (1.48%) to 5,847.37 as traders fretted over further Covid restrictions and a lack of new stimulus measures.

Gen!us

7am: Marston’s cuts

Brewer and pubs group Marston’s said 2,150 pub-based jobs currently subject to furlough will be axed because of continuing restrictions.

“These decisions are difficult but are necessary due to the restrictions placed upon our business at this time,” it said.

The group, which brews Glasgow-owned Gen!us lager at its Bedford brewery, said 10,000 staff who had been on furlough have returned to work.

Since 4 July, the company had reopened approximately 99% of its pubs, though a small number closed subsequently as revised regulations were introduced in Scotland.

It has 21 pubs in Scotland, eight of them closed, and has initiated a full review of overhead costs which will be concluded by the end of December. 

It has 18 pubs in the “highest risk” Liverpool region, the majority of which serve food and under the existing guidelines are capable of remaining open.

“The initial effect of these new rules has been to undermine consumer confidence and create uncertainty,” said the company.

“Restoring confidence will only happen when UK Government and the devolved administrations are able to remove these restrictive measures, which they state are intended to be short term in nature.”

Sales for the year were £821 million, 30% below last year. Total pub sales for the year were £515 million, 34% below last year, principally reflecting the closure period and the impact of the disposal of 168 pubs for proceeds of £61 million in the first half-year.

Ryanair

Ryanair unveils further cuts winter schedule

Ryanair is cutting its winter flight schedule, reducing capacity from 60% to 40% and will operate 65% of its normal network with reduced frequencies.

It said travel restrictions have caused forward bookings to weaken slightly in October, but “materially” in November and December.

In addition to the winter closure of bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse, it has announced significant base aircraft cuts in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Austria.  

It now expects full year (FY21) traffic to fall to about 38m passengers, although this guidance could be further revised downwards.

CEO Michael O’Leary said: “While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by government mismanagement of EU air travel.

“It is inevitable, given the scale of these cutbacks, that we will be implementing  more unpaid leave, and job sharing this winter in those bases where we have agreed reduced working time and pay, but this is a better short term outcome than mass job losses.

“There will regrettably be more redundancies at those small number of cabin crew bases, where we have still not secured agreement on working time and pay cuts, which is the only alternative.

“We urge all EU governments to immediately, and fully, adopt the EU Commission’s Traffic Light System, which allows for safe air travel between EU states on a regional basis to continue.”

Markets

Global shares slipped on Thursday amid rising concerns about resurgent COVID-19 infections and after the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dashed any remaining hopes of a stimulus package before the 3 November presidential election.

Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.6%, S&P 500 0.7% and Nasdaq Composite 0.8%.

The FTSE 100 index is to open 29.06 points lower at 5,906. The blue-chip index closed down 34.65 points, or 0.6%, at 5,935.06 on Wednesday.

Today’s agenda

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