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Whitbread posts loss; BP surges; Exscientia funding


4.30pm: FTSE 100 closes lower

The FTSE 100 fell steadily throughout the day to close 18.15 points lower at 6,944.97.

3pm: Drugs firm funding deal

Exscientia, a Dundee University spin-out – now based in Oxford – that uses artificial intelligence to design drugs, has completed a $225m Series D funding round led by SoftBank which said a further $300m was available to draw upon.

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 was joined by previous round lead investors, Novo Holdings and funds managed by Blackrock.

Other investors included Mubadala Investment Company, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, GT Healthcare Capital, Marshall Wace, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Laurion Capital, Hongkou and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Exscientia was the first to automate drug design, surpassing conventional approaches.

The company was founded in 2012 by Prof Andrew Hopkins, chairman of Medicinal Informatics in the School of Life Sciences at Dundee University. He is currently CEO of the company which retains an office in the city. It has others in Miami and Osaka.

8.30am: London flat

The FTSE 100 was barely changed in the first half hour of trading with good figures from BP offset by a deep loss from Whitbread. The index was up 3.46 points at 6,966.58.

8am: Alba predicts supermajority

Alex Salmond says his Alba party is on course for a historic breakthrough in the Scottish Parliament elections after a new poll showed the party is set to help deliver a “Supermajority” for independence. 

Full story here

7am: Whitbread loss

Premier Inn

Premier Inn owner Whitbread posted  an annual adjusted loss before tax of £635.1m and a statutory loss before tax of just over £1billion, which includes a non-cash impairment charge of £348m in Germany.

Total sales were down 71.4% year-on-year reflecting the impact of the restrictions and the closure of hotels and restaurants for substantial periods of the year.

Strong demand is expected for ‘staycations’ in UK tourist destinations throughout the summer, said the company, with business and event-led leisure demand starting to gradually recover thereafter.

7am: BP profits surge


Oil major BP reported profit for the quarter was $4.7 billion, compared with $1.4 billion profit for the fourth quarter 2020.

Underlying replacement cost profit, its preferred measure, was $2.6 billion, compared with $0.1 billion for the previous quarter.

This was driven by an exceptional gas marketing and trading performance, significantly higher oil prices and higher refining margins.

The company generated strong cash flow and delivered on its net debt target around a year early.

It will commence share buybacks in the second quarter which, alongside a resilient dividend, supports the growth in distributions to shareholders.

It is building an offshore wind business, making “great strides in our electrification agenda” and setting up the company for further growth in the Gulf of Mexico.

7am: Scotgold financing options

Scotgold, the company behind the gold mine near Loch Lomond, is investigating financing options to shore up a weakening cash position.

Full story here

6am: HSBC beats expectations

HSBC has beaten analysts’ expectations to post a 79% rise in pre-tax profit of $5.8 billion (£4.18bn) in the first quarter.

Full story here

6am: Tesla profits rise

Tesla store in Edinburgh

Tesla boss Elon Musk said its Model 3 was the “best-selling luxury sedan of any kind in the world” in the first quarter.

His comments came as the electric car company posted first quarter profits of $438m (£315m).

Revenues also increased by 74% compared to the first quarter in 2020, despite production hurdles.

However, profits were also dented by a $299m payment to Mr Musk.

Overnight Markets

Trading was mixed for the major Wall Street indices last night, with the Dow Jones falling 61 points or 0.2%, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.2% and the Nasdaq was led 0.9% higher by the big tech companies.

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