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Lloyds profits fall; Red Rock wind farm deal; Heathrow slumps

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10.30am: GDP growth

Scotland’s economy increased by 1.6% in the final quarter of last year, compared to 1% across the UK, according to official figures. 

8.30am: London lower at open

Investors marked shares down amid worries over rising prices and waning enthusiasm around Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown. The FTSE 100 was 44 points down at 6,581.82.

Lloyds Banking Group led the blue chips, up 4.1% after a fall in bad loan charges.

There were some bright spots among travel stocks. Tui and BA owner IAG rose 3.2% and 1.3% respectively. Aero engine maker Rolls Royce was up 1.5%.

7.45am: Renewables acquisition

Scottish renewable energy company Red Rock Power has acquired Benbrack onshore wind farm development in Dumfries and Galloway from RWE.

The project, north of Carsphairn, is in late-stage development with a potential capacity of around 72 MW and consent for up to 18 turbines.

7am: Lloyds profits hit

Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group Lloyds Banking Group reported a sharp fall in profits for 2020 but resumed paying a dividend.

Pretax profits came in at £1.2 billion, against £4.4bn in the previous year.

The bank, which owns Bank of Scotland, Scottish Widows and Halifax, announced an impairment charge of £4.247 billion (2019: £1.3bn) because of the deteriorating economic outlook and an expected increase in losses during 2021 as unemployment increases and more businesses fail.

A 57p per share dividend was declared, the maximum allowed by the Bank of England.

Outgoing CEO António Horta-Osório set out fresh targets to expand the bank’s insurance and wealth business and further cut costs.

The bank intends to increase funds from customers in insurance and wealth by £25bn by 2023 and cut office space by 20% within three years.

Celtic manager resigns

The board of Celtic FC have confirmed that Neil Lennon, has resigned and will leave the Club with immediate effect.

Full story here

Heathrow

Heathrow Airport plunged to a £2 billion annual loss after passenger numbers collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s. 

Management called on the UK government to agree a common international travel standard to allow passengers to start flying again in the summer and to provide tax breaks for airports to help them ride out the crisis. 

Passenger numbers shrank 73% to 22 million, with half of those having travelled during January and February 2020 before Covid-19 shut down global travel. 

Revenues were down 62% to £1.18 billion, but Heathrow said it had £3.9 billion of liquidity that should see it through until 2023. 

Markets

Markets appear to be highly uncertain around the outlook for the global economy

The FTSE 100 was called lower following a mixed performance in US markets overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.05% at while the S&P 500 climbed 0.13% and the Nasdaq fell 0.5%.

Wall Street rose off its lows following the testimony of Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell to the Senate Banking Committee yesterday as he sent no signals he was overly concerned about a recent sharp rise in long term US bond yields while also remaining relatively soft on the inflation outlook.

However, inflation concerns and worries about interest rate hikes hit Asian markets this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 falling 1.43% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 3.13% lower.



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