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Turkish Airlines cancels capital flights; borrowing record

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4.30pm: London flat

A relatively quiet session without much movement. The FTSE 100 closed just 6.87 points higher at 6,624.02.

1pm: Turkish flights cancelled

Edinburgh airport

Turkish Airlines has cancelled its direct route to Edinburgh due to concerns around the impact of the Scottish Government’ quarantine policy.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh airport said: “This decision is the first direct consequence of the quarantine hotel policy and we fear this will be repeated by other carriers, impacting on jobs and short and long term connectivity.

“We of course understand the priority given to protecting public health and whatever steps are taken now to prepare the economy for a sustained period of recovery should not distract health professionals from the important job to save lives and protect the NHS.

“However, if we are going to use New Zealand as a blueprint on suppression then we must also follow their act in support for aviation. Aviation facilitates many things, such as tourism which contributes more than £6 billion to the economy. We cannot afford to throw that away because we failed to invest in protecting our hard-earned direct connectivity.”

11.45am: Sunak ‘to extend furlough’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will extend the furlough jobs protection scheme, it was claimed today.

Full story here

11.15am: McGill’s buys electric buses

McGill’s, the UK’s largest independent bus operator, is buying 35 electric buses in a £17.5m deal.

Full story here

9am: FTSE back in positive territory

After opening about 16 points lower, the FTSE 100 has moved into positive territory and was trading at 6,622.25, up +5.1 points (0.077%).

7.30am: Government borrowing rises

UK government borrowing hit £8.8 billion last month, the highest January figure since recent records began in 1993, reflecting the cost of pandemic support measures.

It was the first time in 10 years that more has been borrowed in January than collected through tax and other income. January is usually a key revenue-raising month as it is when taxpayers submit their self-assessment returns.

Tax income fell by less than £1bn, but the government spent £19.7bn more than last year on measures such as furlough.

The growth in borrowing puts debt as a proportion of economic activity at 100.6%.

UK retail sales fall

UK retail sales fell sharply last month as shops were closed under the latest lockdown.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed sales fell by 8.2% in January, far steeper than economists’ forecasts of a 2.5% month-on-month decline.

The ONS said: “Feedback from retailers suggested that these enforced closures affected sales, although not to the same extent as witnessed in April 2020 (the first full month of restrictions on the retail sector) when total retail fell by 22.2%,” the ONS said.

7am: NatWest (RBS)

NatWest has announced an operating loss of £351 million and an attributable loss of £753m but will restore its dividend as CEO Alison Rose says the underlying business remains strong.

It reported an operating profit before tax and impairment charge £2.9bn and proposes a final dividend for FY’20 of 3p per share. Of the £364m total payout £225m will go to the UK Government.

The bank has confirmed that its Ulster Bank subsidiary will withdraw from the Republic of Ireland. Ulster Bank’s business in Northern Ireland is unaffected.

Full story here

DMGT sells edTech business

Daily Mail & General Trust is selling Hobsons, its edTech business, in two separate transactions, for total proceeds of approximately $410m.

Hobsons’ Naviance and Intersect businesses are being sold to US-based PowerSchool, a leading provider of K-12 education technology solutions, for approximately $320m, and are expected to be part of PowerSchool’s unified platform.  

Markets

US indices retreated after weekly first-time jobless claims rose to a four-week high.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 120 points and the S&P 500 retreated 17 points.

Asia was also seeing a sea of red this morning, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 off 226 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index 66 points lower.



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