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FTSE 100 posts triple-digit gain as return of optimism sweeps through markets

Britain's blue-chip benchmark finished over 166 points, or 3.08% higher, at 5,582

Tesco PLC -
There is talk of 'reopening economies', said one analyst. Footsie made good gains on the day
  • FTSE 100 index closes 166 points up
  • Housebuilders wanted on hopes of an earlier end to the lockdown
  • Rolls Royce top FTSE riser

5.15pm; FTSE 100 closes firmly higher

FTSE 100 index posted a triple digit gain on Monday, while US stocks followed suit, as newfound trader optimism appeared to sweep through markets.

Britain's blue-chip benchmark finished over 166 points, or 3.08% higher, at 5,582.

FTSE 250 gained over 713 points at 14,812.

"This might seem odd when we can expect weeks of poor data, but the simple fact is that talk of reopening economies is now widespread, and the data from Italy, Spain, Belgium and even New York is providing hope that some countries have passed the peak and others are nearing it," said  Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, a global leader in online trading.

"In such an environment, investors will be keen to snap up the bargains on offer, ignoring warnings about a terrible year for earnings in 2020."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added over 1,089 points, the S&P 500 gained over 128 points and the Nasdaq added over 380 at 7,752.

Top riser on Footsie was UK engineering titan Rolls Royce (LON:RR.), which motored 18.32% higher to 297.70p after it got rid of its dividend for the first time since 1987 and  announced major staff pay cuts.

3.50pm: The Footsie sustains its surge

While not racing ahead with the same vigour shown by their US counterparts, London’s blue-chips are enjoying a day of strong gains.

The FTSE 100 was up 139 points (2.6%) at 5,555.

Rupert Thompson, the chief investment officer at wealth management group Kingswood, warns that “equities saw similar recoveries on a couple of occasions following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, only then to hit new lows several months later”.

“A considerable amount of bad news, however, is priced into markets which still remain some 25% below their February highs. The key question now is not so much how deep the fall in activity is – and it will be deep - but how long it lasts and how much long-term damage it will do to the economy. The immense monetary and fiscal stimulus now put in place should help contain the economic fall-out, notwithstanding the immediate problems being encountered in implementing the support measures. Still, a recovery in activity will ultimately depend on a slowing in infections and easing of containment measures,” Thompson said.

“There is no sign of this yet in the UK and US but encouragingly in countries such as Italy and Spain infections rates are slowing and there is talk now of an easing in lockdown restrictions later this month. Importantly also in China, there is still no sign of a secondary surge in infections as the country returns to work. All the same, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty as to how soon, and to what extent, the lockdowns will be relaxed – not least because of the lack of clarity on the timing and effectiveness of much more extensive testing both for the virus itself and antibodies to the virus,” he added.

London’s advance is being led by Legal & General, which said on Friday it would resist calls to bin its recently announced dividend.

Hopes that the lockdown might end sooner than previously assumed have prompted demand for the housebuilders, with Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV), up 17% at 448.1p, the pick of the bunch.

3.00pm: US stocks make fast start

As expected, US indices opened the week with a bang, with the major indices rising by more than 4%.

The Dow Jones industrial average raced 996 points (4.7%) higher to 22,048 while the S&P 500 stormed 113 points (4.6%) higher to 2,601.

The big lift-off in the US provided a bit of a fillip to London’s blue-chips as a result of which the FTSE 100 improved to 5,567, up 151 points (2.8%).

Away from the big-caps, Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT) pulled off the rare trick of raising funds and seeing its share price rise.

The developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and research reagents has announced a proposed share placing to raise £3.75mln. The shares are being placed at 18p a share. Avacta shares currently trade at 23p, up 12.2%.

Investors were also tucking into Wagamama restaurants owner Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN) after its lenders gave it extra breathing room in the form of increased loan facilities.

The shares were up 6.5% at 38p.

1.45pm: US indices to open sharply higher

US indices are set to open sharply higher on hopes that there could be light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

Spread betting quotes indicate the Dow Jones industrial average will open around 789 points higher at 21,842 while the S&P 500 is tipped to open at 2,583, up 94 points.

“That would lift the Dow to 21850, at the upper end of the 21,000 to 22,000 trading bracket it has spent the last week or so living in,” observed Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 111 points (2.1%) at 5,527, not far off the level, having traded pretty much 10 points either side of this level for the last three hours.

Gains have been tempered by a revival of sterling’s fortunes on foreign exchange markets with the pounding rise by a fifth of a cent to US$1.2288.

The oil giants BP PLC (LON:BP.) and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB) are also weighing on the index as the price of Brent crude for June delivery slides 88 cents to US$33.23 a barrel.

BP is off 0.9% and Shell 0.6%.

Also underperforming the index is drugs leviathan GlaxoSmtihkline PLC (LON:GSK), which today announced a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to fund coronavirus solutions. Glaxo's shares were up 0.2% at 1,492.4p.

12.15pm: Footsie consolidates morning's gains as traders wait on blockbuster Japanese stimulus package

Japan’s government is preparing to wheel out a stimulus package of around £811bn this month, a commitment that dwarfs similar schemes, such as the USA’s.

“Japan’s proposed economic stimulus measures look likely to be especially large compared to other countries. If the plan goes ahead as reported, the total amount would equate to 16-17% of the country’s GDP, dwarfing other schemes, including that of the USA, which is equivalent to 10% of its GDP. The large stimulus package is a very positive step from Prime Minister Abe’s government,” said Naoya Oshikubo, the senior economist at SuMi TRUST.

“The government looks to be seeking a package on a scale of over ¥60 trillion, with fiscal outlays in excess of ¥20 trillion. In addition economic measures valued at ¥26 trillion were announced at the end of 2019.

“As part of the package the government is considering to guarantee 100% of bank loans made out to SMEs, which is particularly significant as aggregate short-term liabilities of SMEs in Japan stand at around ¥40 trillion. If this measure goes ahead it should be very effective at preventing bankruptcies.

“However, markets have already begun to price in the passage of a ¥60 trillion economic stimulus package including a fiscal outlay of ¥20 trillion. This means that, unless the measures announced are even larger than forecast, in the short-term market sentiment will not improve, the yen will not weaken, and the stock market will not rally,” he opined.

Of course, Naoya Oshikubo is talking about the Japanese market; in London, the rally is underway as investors take heart from the latest coronavirus numbers, even though they are a bit fuzzy.

“The number of reported confirmed US cases rose by only 8.4% yesterday, well below the prior trend, about 13%, but we are very suspicious of Sunday data. Reported case growth was well below trend last Sunday too. A rebound in reported cases today seems a good bet,” suggested Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Case growth continues to slow in continental western Europe, though we're ignoring the Sunday data on grounds of unreliability. The key point for major European countries is that daily deaths are likely to be falling outright by the end of this week, following the pattern in Italy and Spain,” Shepherdson continued.

“The UK and the US are a couple of weeks behind, thanks mostly to the incompetence of their governments, so daily deaths will continue to increase, albeit at a slowing pace. We expect the peaks to be about 2K and 3-to-3.5K, respectively, both by mid-to-late April,” he predicted.

The FTSE 100 was up 102 points (1.9%) at 5,517.

11.15am: Footsie rouses itself again after mid-morning snooze

After a mid-morning lull, the Footsie has restored its gain to triple-figures.

London’s index of leading shares was up 115 points (2.1%) at 5,530 as hopes rise that the rate of coronavirus-related deaths is flattening out in mainland Europe.

Traders largely took this morning’s Markit/CIPS construction PMI reading in their stride, even though at 39.3 (down from 52.6 in February) it was below the consensus forecast of 44.0.

“Activity in the construction sector reportedly has dropped at its fastest pace since April 2009, even though the government has not forced building sites to close, provided workers observe social distancing rules. It seems that staff protests and the furloughing scheme have persuaded many construction companies to pause projects,” observed Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The housing index (46.6) was much higher than the commercial (35.7) and civil engineering indices (34.4), though firms commented that they expected housing work to slump ahead, primarily due to measures to counteract the spread of the virus. Looking ahead, builders were the most pessimistic about the 12-month outlook for demand since October 2008, and in response, they cut headcounts at the fastest rate since September 2010 but if, as we expect, banks largely maintain the supply of credit to the economy and the government follows through on its plans for much higher levels of public sector investment, the construction sector should see a much swifter recovery than after the 2008/09 recession, when it took seven years for output to return to its prior peak,” Tombs said.

Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said the purchasing managers survey showed that construction activity suffered a relapse in March as coronavirus-related restrictions increasingly affected activity and construction sites were closed.

“Employment in the sector declined at the fastest rate since September 2010,” Archer noted.

“Intense supply chain pressures occurred in March as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in reduced capacity and shortages of stock among vendors. The latest lengthening of lead-times among vendors was the steepest recorded since October 2014. Input prices rose at a slower rate,” he added.

10.05am: "Car sales likely will lag any recovery in the wider economy in the second half of this year"

Private new car registrations were 40.4% lower than a year earlier in March.

Total registrations, including fleet and business sales, fell 44.4% year-on-year in March.

“We estimate that seasonally adjusted private car registrations cratered in March to their lowest level since November 2008, following a huge 38% month-to-month drop. Only in one month since data begin in 2003—November 2008—have registrations posed a bigger year-over-year decline,” noted Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The slump primarily reflects the impact of car dealership closures, due to Covid-19, on fulfilling customers’ orders. The hit to registrations from car plant shutdowns in the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as the recent decline in consumers’ confidence, still lies ahead. In addition, car sales likely will lag any recovery in the wider economy in the second half of this year, given that buyers can easily defer purchases and must be confident in their financial outlook before committing to such a large purchase. Meanwhile, the government likely will not re-run the scrappage scheme from the 2008/09 recession, which gave people trading in cars more than 10 years old a £2K discount for their new car purchase,” Tombs predicted.

“In this recession, the car industry is not close to being top of the list of sectors that need the most support. The government likely will continue to focus its firepower elsewhere this year,” Tombs said.

Car dealer shares responded phlegmatically; Pendragon PLC (LON:PDG) was up 0.2% at 6.21p; Inchcape PLC (LON:INCH) was up 2.5% at 432p; Cambria Automobiles plc (LON:CAMB) was up 4.1% at 38.5p and Vertu Motors PLC (LON:VTU) was unchanged.

The FTSE 100 was up 90 points (1.7%) at 5,504.

9.45am: Construction companies register their lowest levels of optimism since October 2008

The IHS Markit / CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index for March plunged to 39.3 from 52.6 in February.

A level below 50 indicates a decline in activity.

It was the fastest downturn in UK construction output for almost eleven years as emergency public health measures to halt the spread of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) led to stoppages of work on site and a slump in new orders, said IHS Markit, the company that conducts the survey.

The civil engineering activity index at 34.4 saw the steepest rate of decline among the three sub-indices, followed closely by commercial building work (index at 35.7). Residential activity dropped at a comparatively modest pace in March, with the equivalent index posting 46.6; however, construction companies often commented on an expected slump in house building from stoppages on site amid increasing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, IHS Markit said.

“March data provides an early snapshot of the impact on UK construction output from emergency public health measures to halt the COVID-19 pandemic, with activity falling to the greatest extent since the global financial crisis,” said Tim Moore, the economics director at IHS Markit.

"The closure of construction sites and lockdown measures will clearly have an even more severe impact on business activity in the coming months. Survey respondents widely commented on doubts about the feasibility of continuing with existing projects as well as starting new work.

"Construction supply chains instead are set to largely focus on the provision of essential activities such as infrastructure maintenance, safety-critical remedial work and support for public services in the weeks ahead,” he added.

Duncan Brock, the group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) said construction sites closed and builders lost their jobs “on a frightening scale”.

“New orders were reduced to a trickle as the scale of the disease dawned on clients and lockdown severely hindered any further progress.

"With no upturn in sight, and with the fastest level of layoffs since September 2010, the sector is stuck in quicksand and sinking further. Though lower commodity prices will bring some relief for those that can source a limited number of materials amidst disrupted supply chains, this will be cold comfort without sites to work in and staff available as health concerns remain. The brutality of this impact cannot be underestimated, and the sector has not hit rock bottom yet,” Brock warned.

The FTSE 100 was up 94 points (1.7%) at 5,510.

9.15am: Legal & General leads the advance after divi defiance

Equity investors are once more daring to hope as the coronavirus (COVID-19) fatality count appears to be levelling off in Europe.

Just five Footsie stocks were in the red as the index raced 163 points (3.0%) higher to 5,579.

“Spain, Italy and France reported a dip in the death rate in their respective countries,” reported Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

“While this is welcome, none of these countries have shown that they are inclined to lift their lockdowns any time soon, despite reports that some countries are looking at possible exit strategies. With infection rates still very high, talk of an exit strategy seems rather premature at this stage, especially since testing processes are still in their infancy, and infection rates are still quite high,” he added.

Legal & General Group PLC (LON:LGEN), the insurance group, led the risers with a 16% leap to 185p after it confirmed on Friday it would pay the final dividend recommended in respect of 2019.

Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) clawed back some of its recent losses – the company has hit hard by the grounding of airline fleets across the globe – after a trading update.

The shares climbed 20% to 301p after it said output of new widebody engines remained broadly stable in the first quarter as airframe customers maintained production levels.

8.35am: Positive start to Easter week

The FTSE 100 got off to a strong start as traders took heart from a decline in coronavirus death rates in Italy, Spain, and the US.

The index of UK blue-chip shares opened 115 points higher at 5,529.29.

WATCH: FTSE 100 makes positive start to trading despite further drop in oil prices

“Markets are striking a more optimistic tone at the beginning of the week. Some governments are targeting Easter as a time to begin rolling back lockdown restrictions,” said Jasper Lawler, analyst at London Capital Group. 

“Investors are taking it as an early sign that we’re coming out the other side of the economic standstill.”

Lawler's comments certainly chimed with the early action.

It was the morning of the phoenix stocks with Carnival (LON:CCL) leading the death’s door brigade with a 13% rise. A swift end to the global pandemic could leave the cruise operator some room for recovery - or so the optimists seem to believe.

The airlines, led by British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:IAG), 6% higher, were also in demand.

Melrose (LON:MLRO), owner of aero-engineer GKN, also found some support, bouncing 7.3% after the recent sell-off across the sector.

Prudential (LON:PRU), one of a number of Footsie financial firms actually invested in world markets, also found some support as it advanced 6%, buoyed by in an upward movement in Asian and European markets.

Proactive news headlines:

Ergomed PLC (LON:ERGO) is to work on a second clinical trial in Italy looking at ways to tackle people severely ill with coronavirus (COVID-19). The trial will target the GM-CSF cytokine using a drug currently in late-stage trials for rheumatoid arthritis developed by Oxford-based Izana Bioscience.

Futura Medical PLC (LON:FUM) has been asked to attend a second meeting with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to assess its topical erectile dysfunction treatment MED3000 as a medical device rather than a drug. The company met with the FDA for a pre-submission on 24 February and has now received the official minutes back. These confirm that the US regulator has agreed to a De Novo medical device application for MED3000 subject to another pre-submission meeting to discuss clinical sufficiency and/or post-marketing requirements once the clinical study report or CSR for the FM57 study is available.

CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC) said it has “not experienced interruptions in its services” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that its current trading is in line with market expectations. The AIM-listed firm said its business is “expected to remain resilient” as its services, the subscription sales of internet domain names, were procured and delivered online while the majority of its revenues are payments from existing subscribers and customers on rolling contracts.

InnovaDerma PLC (LON:IDP) said it remains “well-positioned” with a “robust business model”, though it admitted the coronavirus lockdown had “significantly slowed” sales through its bricks and mortar network, which includes Boots, Superdrug and Tesco. Counter-balancing this, the health and beauty group told investors its direct to consumer channel, which accounted for 60% of revenues last year, continued to perform “very well”.

Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) said strong sales momentum in the second half of 2019 provided it with solid foundations for 2020. In its 2019 results statement, the cybersecurity firm noted that around two-thirds of the orders received in 2019 were from telecommunication service and cloud providers, markets that are anticipated to benefit from the shift to work-from-home as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The company ended 2019 with a strong balance sheet, with net cash of US$5.4mln, up from US$4.4mln a year earlier.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has signed a contract manufacturing agreement with French food supplements and nutrition group, Laboratoire PYC. The new partner has the exclusive rights to manufacture meal replacement shakes for the UK firm’s GoFigure weight management range. OptiBiotix said the deal helps “de-risk” its supply chain. It follows on from a tie-up last week with Denmark’s Fipros, which will produce food additive SlimBiome under license for distribution across the EU.

Crossword Cybersecurity PLC (LON:CCS) has said it will be collaborating with security reseller and managed security services provider Satisnet Limited to provide party assurance technology to its clients. Under the partnership, Satisnet will help customers take control of third party risks through Crossword’s Rizikon Assurance platform, which it says will help them automate supplier onboarding and “gain full visibility of third party risk exposure”.

H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT) has unilaterally declared an interest holiday on outstanding secured loans while its stores are closed or until further notice. The pawnbroking company is doing its bit to support its customers during what it described as a “challenging period”. In the meantime, it is in the process of arranging to be able to accept online repayments and to make cash advances via an online portal.

Stobart Group Limited (LON:STOB) chief executive Warwick Brady has highlighted “significant underlying value” in the group’s aviation and energy assets as the firm takes steps to safeguard its business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “There remain significant medium and long-term opportunities to further increase the value of the assets for our stakeholders”, Brady said in a statement on Monday.

Angling Direct PLC (LON:ANG) said its online operation has seen encouraging levels of trade in both the UK and international markets in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The board declared that e-commerce sales remain robust for now, with strong levels of customer demand since 24 March 2020. It said group sales increased by 19.0% year-on-year over the first three weeks of March prior to the significant recent impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it has mined a record level of Bitcoin in the first three months of 2020, adding that its operations have not been impacted by coronavirus. The cryptocurrency miner said in an update for March that it had mined 918 Bitcoin or Bitcoin equivalent (BTC) in the three months, more than double the amount mined during the previous quarter. For the month itself, Argo mined 333.8 BTC compared to 337.5 in February.

SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC) performed ahead of budget and analyst estimates during the first quarter of 2020 despite significant weather disruption and flooding across the UK and the Channel Islands, and the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For the quarter, the construction materials company delivered revenue of £26.5mln, an 87% year-on-year increase, and unaudited underlying earnings (EBITDA) of £5.25mln, representing a 144% year-on-year increase. The company said it has decided to remain active across its operations where it can ensure compliance with all applicable government welfare guidelines and where there is a clear strategic and financial case in the local market.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) believes it can keep its dividend when others are losing theirs. In a stock market statement, the North America-based firm updated investors on its operations in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Designated as a provider of "essential services" in each US state that in which it operates, the group said its oil and gas fields continue to produce with little-to-no impact from COVID-19.

Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP) has announced a further interim extension to the Goudron incremental production service contract (IPSC) with Heritage Petroleum, moving the deadline out to June 30, 2020. The prior deadline was April 3, and, now the companies have more time to finalise agreements for a longer-term extension.

Jersey Oil and Gas PLC (LON:JOG) has hired project delivery specialist Dr Chris Haynes as an advisor to the board, as it seeks to advance the Greater Buchan Area (GBA) hub oilfield development project in the North Sea. Haynes has 39 years’ experience in the industry, much of which was gained at Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON:RDSA), where he was responsible for the delivery of Shell's major upstream projects worldwide.

NQ Minerals PLC (LON:NQMI) produced 8,127 tonnes of lead and 4,609 tonnes of zinc from its Hellyer Gold Mine in Tasmania during the quarter ending March 31, 2020, and the mine has been designated “essential” by the Tasmanian government and is still operating during the current coronavirus pandemic. It also produced 1,081 ounces of gold and 230,441 ounces of silver as payable precious metal credits in the lead and zinc concentrate streams.

Erris Resources PLC (LON:ERIS) halved its losses in the year to December 31, 2019 to just over €530,000, down from more than a €1mln loss a year earlier. The company closed out the period with €1.4mln cash in the bank, although that figure has subsequently dropped slightly since the year-end. Erris said it is continuing with exploration projects in Ireland, Norway and Scotland.

Pembridge Resources PLC (LON:PERE) is to restructure the share ownership of its Minto copper mine in the Yukon, Canada. The restructuring comes in the context of the financial uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, and in relation to a potential legal dispute with certain US investors.

Erris Resources PLC (LON:ERIS) halved its losses in the year to 31 December 2019 to just over €530,000, from more than €1mln a year earlier. The company closed out the period with €1.4mln cash in the bank, although that figure has subsequently dropped slightly further.

Providence Resources PLC (LON:PVR) has raised US$3mln of new capital and also inked a preliminary agreement for a new farm-out for its flagship Barryroe oil field project. SpotOn Energy - a Norwegian group which “takes a progressive approach to cost-effective offshore oil and gas field development” - has signed a term-sheet giving it exclusivity until the end of October 2020 to develop new appraisal plans at Barryroe and agree binding commercial terms for the envisaged farm-out deal.

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR) has raised £500,000 via a placing of 100mln shares at a price of 0.5p per share. The group said the money raised will be used to support its ongoing activities, particularly in relation to its gold exploration projects in Victoria, Australia. The placing was arranged by SI Capital Ltd.

ImmuPharma PLC (LON:IMM), a specialist drug discovery and development company, announced that its chairman, Tim McCarthy will provide a live presentation relating to the recently announced £1.5mln share subscription and update on the company's R&D programmes, via the 'Investor Meet Company' platform. The live presentation will be held on Tuesday 7 April 2020 at 10.30am (BST).

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR), the AIM-listed investor in natural resource opportunities, announced that, on April 3. 2020, its chief executive officer, Michael McNeilly purchased 502,267 ordinary shares in the company on market, at a price of 1.05p each, for a total consideration of £5,273.80. Following these purchases, it added, McNeilly is interested in a total of 6,500,000 ordinary shares, representing 0.43% of the company’s issued share capital.

S&U PLC (LON:SUS),  the specialist motor finance and property bridging lender, announced that the publication of the group's preliminary results for the period ended January 31, 2020 will now be on Wednesday April 8, 2020. It said there will be a webinar/conference call for equity analysts at 09:30am on the day of results hosted by its chairman, Anthony Coombs; deputy chairman, Graham Coombs; group FD, Chris Redford; and the CEO of Advantage Finance, Graham Wheeler.

7.00 am: Coronavirus fears receding

The FTSE 100 looks set to open firmly in positive territory, buoyed by a drop in coronavirus deaths.

Italy, Spain, France and the US all reported a deceleration in fatalities over the weekend, though President Trump still warned Americans of a “very horrendous” phase to come.

Asia’s main markets, with the exception of China, which was closed for a public holiday, swung into positive territory on Monday.

“Despite the declines in the death rates there is no indication any of the countries are in the mood to signal when the respective lockdowns will be lifted,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.

Ahead of the Easter break it looks likely to be a reasonably busy week for scheduled corporate news with supermarket group Tesco (LON:TSCO) and online fashion chain ASOS (LON:ASC) headlining.

The macro-economic news will be made on Thursday as the Office for National Statistics unveils numbers on GDP, trade and industrial output. As they are lagging indicators they are unlikely to provide any great insight into the damage wrought by the coronavirus.

Significant events expected on Monday:

Finals: GYG PLC (LON:GYG), Mobile Tornado Group Plc (LON:MBT)

Around the markets:

  • Pound worth US$1.2242, down 0.22%
  • Gold off US$5 an ounce at US$1,640.70
  • Brent crude US$33,41 a barrel, down 70 cents

City headlines: 

Financial Times

  • Apple pledges to ship 1mln medical face shields
  • Oil prices slips while Asian markets rise 
  • Regulators free up US$500bn capital for lenders to fight virus storm
  • Rolls-Royce set to ditch targets and suspend dividend
  • Bailey rejects monetary financing as tool in virus crisis

Times 

  • Coronavirus lockdown costing UK £2.4bn a day
  • Heathrow boss calls for airport screening 
  • Plan to turn grounded jets into intensive care wards

Telegraph 

  • Underwriters unable to meet pandemic insurance demand 
  • Debenhams fails to make pension payment as administration looms

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