• FTSE 100 index surges to higher close
  • US indices higher
  • US PMI take pandemic hit

5.15pm; FTSE 100 closes up 452 points

FTSE 100 index closed significantly higher on Tuesday as there was finally some green covering the equity boards.

Britain’s blue-chip benchmark closed 452 points higher, or around 9% ahead at 5,446. It was the second biggest daily gain on record. The midcap FTSE 250 also bounced back, adding over 1,094  points, or 8.37% to 14,172 as the UK went through its first day on lockdown.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged over 1,589 points to 20,181 and the S&P 500 gained over 163 at 2,401.

Stock markets were boosted by the prospect of a huge  economic stimulus bill being agreed by the US government later today amid the accelerating coronavirus pandemic.

“Recently there has been support from various governments and central banks, but there has been some toing and froing in Washington DC, so traders are waiting to see what the Trump administration will deliver,” said analyst David Madden, at CMC Markets.

“In addition to the US, the German government are tipped to post a stimulus package in the near-term too. In light of the awful PMI reports from Germany today, lawmakers must want to be seen to assist the economy.”

The German DAX added nearly 11% to 9,700 on the day and the French CAC 40 gained 8.4%.

After getting hammered recently Carnival (LON:CCL) shares saw the biggest gain on Footsie, adding 28.26% to 1,062p.Oil titans BO (LON:BP.) and Shell (LON:RDSB) both were lifted over 20% too.

4.10pm: Footsie goes from strength to strength

So far, there has been no sign of the Footsie doing the sort of swoon that has characterised many attempted rallies this month.

Quite the contrary, in fact, as the index is closed to its intra-day high at 5,320, up 327 points (6.5%).

“Deciding to take a positive view of the day’s dreadful PMIs, while also benefiting from a statement by the G7, the markets rebounded hard on Tuesday,” said Connor Campbell at Spreadex.

“The G7’s financial ministers and central bank heads pledged to ‘do whatever is necessary’ to protect, and eventually restart, the international economy, promising cooperation on ‘substantial and complementary packages’ to help out companies struggling in the face of the crisis.

“Suggesting that investors are far more receptive to broad-based governmental strategy than pure central bank monetary policy, the Western markets only intensified their gains as the session went on,” he added.

Away from the blue-chips, Deltex Medical Group plc (LON:DEMG), the blood-flow monitoring company, was the best performer, up 94% at 1.75p, albeit on zero news flow.

The oesophageal Doppler monitoring technology company has had trouble getting its foot in the door in the past at the National Health Service but perhaps the current crisis could lead to a change of heart (monitoring).

The day’s big loser was Hardide Plc (LON:HDD), the industrial coatings specialist. The shares were down 22% at 17.5p; the company has been trying for several years to get its technology used by the aerospace industry – not a sector to be too reliant on at the moment.

3.10pm: US PMI hit by coronavirus

The US manufacturing and services PMI both suffered as they took a coronavirus hit.

The flash manufacturing PMI was 49.2 from 50.7, a 127-month low according to its compiler IHS Markit.

The services index tanked to 39.1 from 49.4, a record low and well below the consensus of 42.

Data was collected between March 12 and March 23, reflecting the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are confident that the speed of the collapse now is faster than after the crash of September 2008, at which point the economy had already been in recession for a year; this is an overnight stop,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“We expect a further decline in April, which ought then to be the floor, or close to it.” 

According to experts, the services sector took a hard hit immediately but the manufacturing will get a hammering too as long lead items wash through.

Meanwhile, the Footsie bagged 274 points to 5,268 as the pound trimmed its gains, up 1.6% to US$1.1731.

2.10pm: US markets open higher

As expected, Wall Street opened higher, with the Dow Jones up 1,171 points to 19,763 and the S&P 500 up 124 points to 2,361.

Investors are pinning their hopes on a US$2 trillion rescue package for the US economy which Congress failed to agree twice on Monday.

According to Time, top lawmakers said late on Monday night negotiations were about to end.

“We look forward to having a deal tomorrow,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters.

Back home, London’s big-cap index gained 230 points to 5,224, while sterling rose 1.8% to US$1.1750.

12.45pm: US indices expected to open sharply higher

US markets are set for a big rebound today after taking a bath yesterday.

The Dow Jones is expected to open at around 19,372, some 780 points higher than last night’s close while the S&P 500 is set to open its account 87 points heavier at 2,324.

“As for the Dow Jones, after falling close to 600 points on Monday – unmoved by the Fed’s latest kitchen sink attempt at monetary policy – the index is set to shoot up,” noted Connor Campbell, although he cautioned that all could change when the US manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indices (PMI) are released this afternoon.

“Analysts are estimating 45.1 for the former and 44.1 for the latter, though, as Europe has shown, those forecasts should be taken with a pinch of salt,” Campbell said.

As for the UK PMIs released earlier today, the appropriately named Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics sombrely said that the record low levels sign a “very deep recession”.

“The colossal drop in the composite PMI—more than three times bigger than its previous record decline—signals clearly that the economy is hurtling towards a deep recession. The composite PMI even is below its low-point in the 2008/09 recession. It currently is consistent with GDP [gross domestic product] falling at a 2% quarter-on-quarter rate but GDP probably will fall at an even faster rate in Q2, given that the nationwide lockdown has begun today,” Pantheon’s chief UK economist said.

“Note too that the PMI does not include retailers; non-food retailers struggled with reduced shopper footfall in early March and now are being forced to shut their stores. In addition, the March data do not capture the additional hit to output and activity entailed by school closures, which began this week; responses from firms were collected between February 12 and 20. We judge that the drop in GDP in Q2 will be at least twice as big as currently signalled by Markit’s PMI, though at this stage the duration of emergency measures to keep people in their homes is anyone’s guess,” Tombs conceded.

“The only silver lining is that firms do not appear to have rushed to cut employment as rapidly as in the 2008/09 recession. The 44.0 level of the composite employment index points to employee numbers dropping at a relatively mild 1% year-over-year rate soon. The survey also was conducted largely before the government announced that it would cover 80% of the salary of furloughed workers; firms are more likely to keep employees on their books now. Policymakers’ swift and unprecedented actions to support the economy provide hope that COVID-19 won’t inflict massive damage to the economy over the medium-term,” he said.

For now, investors seem happy to drink the happy juice with the FTSE 100 up 196 points (3.9%) at 5,190.

12.05pm: Doubts cast over the CBI industrial trends survey

The total orders balance fell to -29 in March, from -18 in February, according to the latest CBI industrial trends survey.

The reading was well above the consensus forecast of -35, but Pantheon Macroeconomics’ chief UK economist Samuel Tombs thinks the survey is “almost certainly” understating the damage to the industrial sector from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Producers are asked simply to state whether orders are above or below ‘normal levels’, but they do not have to report the size of any decline in output. The survey also was undertaken in the first half of March, before school closures and other emergency measures which will have prevented workers from attending factories and shops from stocking goods,” Tombs noted.

“Admittedly, output in the food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals sector likely has picked up, due to consumer stockpiling; these two sectors account for 19% of total manufacturing output but once consumers have amassed an initial excess buffer of food and drugs, production should return to prior norms in these sectors. As a result, we would caution against taking comfort from the relatively small deterioration in the CBI’s survey in March,” Tombs said.

Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said it was “a disappointing survey”/

“It should be noted that the headline PMI overstates the strength of the manufacturing sector as a marked positive contribution came from a record lengthening of supplier delivery times. This is normally seen as reflecting strong demand and a positive – but in this instance, it was due to the disruption to supply chains stemming from coronavirus,” Archer said.

The FTSE 100 was up 213 points (4.3%) at 5,207 as investors pin their hopes on the US central bank’s open-ended stimulus scheme and speculation that Germany and the US are preparing rescue packages similar to the one announced in the UK.

“Oil has undergone a big move to the upside as traders are hopeful for a generous US rescue package,” said David Madden at CMC Markets.

SP Angel noted that oil prices are also being supported by the weaker dollar that stemmed from the Fed’s unprecedented measures.

Brent crude for May delivery is up 58 cents to US$27.71 a barrel while sterling is almost two cents higher against the US dollar at US$1.1736.

11.20am: Manufacturing output hit by the coronavirus

The latest CBI industrial trends survey indicates manufacturing output expectations dropped to their weakest since the financial crisis.

The survey was conducted between 25 February and 13 March, just as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak gained pace in the UK and Europe.

The survey of 288 manufacturers reported that both total and export order books worsened considerably in February.

Manufacturing output volumes fell in the three months to March, but at a roughly similar pace to February, the CBI said. Volumes have now fallen for six months in a row.

Nine out of the 17 sub-sectors reported output volumes expanding, led by the chemicals, food, drink & tobacco, and electronic engineering sub-sectors; however, growth in these sectors was offset primarily by a sharp drop in output in the motor vehicles & transport equipment sub-sector.

The bosses’ pressure group said output prices are expected to rise somewhat in the next three months.

“The manufacturing sector is facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, such as widespread disruption to supply chains and weakening demand due to domestic containment measures,2said Anna Leach, the deputy chief economist at the CBI.

“With expectations for output set to fall in the coming months, it’s now more important than ever manufacturers get the support they need.

“The Chancellor’s offer of substantial payroll support, fast access to cash and tax deferral will help prevent job losses and alleviate some strain but all measures must be constantly assessed to ensure the UK’s manufacturing sector emerges from this crisis with the minimum possible damage,” she suggested.

Tom Crotty, the group director of privately-owned chemicals company INEOS, who is the chair of the CBI Manufacturing Council, said it is not surprising that manufacturers are feeling the impact of the coronavirus.

“The government’s various support measures have been welcome, but it will be essential to keep its response under continuous review to ensure that firms get through the crisis,” he said.

“The outbreak of coronavirus has shone a light on the world-leading expertise and capability of UK manufacturing. The inspiring reaction by manufacturers to the government’s drive to produce thousands of ventilators and other essential products and materials is testament to the quality of firms and people in our sector. Manufacturers stand ready to help the country through the current crisis in any way they can,” he declared.

The FTSE 100 was up 199 points (4.0%) at 5,193.

10.10am: Investors shrug off record low PMI readings

The FTSE 100 reacted phlegmatically to the latest purchasing manager surveys from CIPS/IHS Markit.

London’s index of leading shares, in fact, pushed a little higher following their release, rising to 5,209, up 215 points (4.3%), some 25 points higher than it was at the time of the release of the surveys.

“The surveys highlight how the COVID-19 outbreak has already dealt the UK economy an initial blow even greater than that seen at the height of the global financial crisis. With additional measures to contain the spread of the virus set to further paralyse large parts of the economy in coming months, such as business closures and potential lockdowns, a recession of a scale we have not seen in modern history is looking increasingly likely,” warned Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“Historical comparisons indicate that the March survey reading is consistent with GDP [gross domestic product] falling at a quarterly rate of 1.5-2.0%, a decline which is sufficiently large to push the economy into a contraction in the first quarter; however, this decline will likely be the tip of the iceberg and dwarfed by what we will see in the second quarter as further virus containment measures take their toll and the downturn escalates.

“Any growth was confined to small pockets of the economy such as food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Demand elsewhere has collapsed, both for goods and services, as increasing numbers of households and businesses at home and abroad close their doors,” Williams concluded.

Duncan Brock, the group director of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), said: “the shock of this deepening global health crisis has flung businesses into the abyss”.

“The services sector received the largest blow as citizens reduced their social activity and leisure activities were abandoned. The sector recorded its worst drop in activity since 1996 when the survey began. New orders also took a significant hit as the rapid realisation of the significance of COVID-19 applied an abrupt brake on consumer-facing businesses,” Brock said.

“Shortages of manufacturing components following global factory closures dislocated manufacturing supply chains and led to the greatest lengthening of delivery times since the index began in 1992. A surge in demand for food and pharmaceutical products led to rising output in some parts of the manufacturing sector, but this was more than offset by a slump in production elsewhere.

“As more serious measures are considered by the UK Government, the effect of coronavirus on businesses will get much worse. Even with interest rates cuts and an injection of cash into the economy to support struggling businesses, the inevitable rise in unemployment is sure to follow along with business failures especially amongst SMEs,” he added.

9.45am: Equities buoyant as investors dare to hope

London’s leading shares are enjoying a rare spell in the sun; it’s a shame they are only allowed it once a day.

The FTSE 100 was up 187 points (3.8%) at 5,183, led by the oil majors Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSB), up 16% at 1,243p, and BP PLC (LON:BP.), up 25% at 294.55p.

The price of Brent crude for May delivery has risen US$1.50 to US$28.52 a barrel.

“Markets rebounded in early trading today following last night’s announcement of an effective UK lockdown, something most UK policymakers have been pushing for the last week as the nation tries to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Joe Healey, an investment research analyst at The Share Centre.

“For the last few weeks we have said the primary data markets are reacting to, is the number of new cases and deaths rather than monetary and fiscal policy. This highlights our view some investors are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, there remains uncertainty ahead but it seems we are starting to take steps in the right direction for the UK economy,” Healey said.

Adding to the cautious sense of optimism was an indication that the rate at which new cases of infection are growing in Italy is slowing.

“All of this is also coming alongside yesterday’s announcement the Fed ‘is willing to do whatever it takes’, something that helped prop up Asian markets earlier today and news that Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak has started to relax travel restrictions which could either be a key milestone in the virus saga for good or for worse,” Healey sugged.

Meanwhile, the IHS Markit / CIPS Flash UK Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for March did not make for pleasant reading.

The composite output index in March fell to an all-time low of 37.1 from February’s 53.0; a level below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.

The services business activity index also fell to a new low, of 35.7, from February’s reading of 53.2.

The UK manufacturing output index dropped to a 92-month low of 44.3 from February’s 52.2 while the UK manufacturing PMI hit a three-month low of 48.0, following on from February’s 51.7.

“March data highlight that the COVID-19 outbreak has already dealt the UK economy a more severe blow than at any time since comparable figures were first available over 20 years ago,” said IHS Markit Economics, which compiles the data.

8.25am: Positive start

The FTSE 100 recouped some of the ground lost on a bloodbath start to the week as G7 finance ministers prepare to discuss an enhanced coronavirus response – but not quite as much as expected.

The index of UK blue-chip stocks rallied 133 points to 5,126.78 The spread betters were predicting a rise of around 220 points. Instead, the advance was just over half of that.

WATCH: Morning Report: Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct to keep its stores open despite lockdown

In Asia, the markets there rallied after the US Federal Reserve launched unlimited quantitative easing; compensation for the fact that US lawmakers failed to agree a US$2 trillion economic aid package.

“The Federal Reserve went all-in yesterday, opening the taps on an unlimited asset purchase programme that will for the first time include corporate bonds as well as US government debt,” said Neil Wilson senior analyst at Markets.com. “There were other measures in a broad package of support for companies that goes about as far as it’s possible to go.”

Later Tuesday finance ministers and central bankers of the world’s seven largest economies will have a call to discuss responses to and the economic impact of coronavirus.

On a busy day, the Eurogroup’s 19 finance ministers will also assess how to use a bailout fund called the European Stability Mechanism.

“Possible common issuance of so-called corona bonds is to be on the agenda as well,” said Danske Bank.

Prudential (LON:PRU), the savings and pensions group that invests heavily in the currently bombed-out international stock markets, found some support on a day of stability for the world’s bourses. It advanced 15% early on.

Not far behind was the London Stock Exchange (LON:LSE), up 11%, which appears to have staved off the threat of a stock market shutdown.

Is there talk of a bailout for the airlines? If not, there are obviously a few rather brave investors out there willing to get behind British Airways owner IAG (LON:IAG), which taxied ahead 7.9%.

Proactive news headlines:

MaxCyte Inc (LON:MXCT) has signed a licensing deal with a company developing the next wave of cancer immunotherapies. Allogene Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ALLO) will use MaxCyte’s Flow Electroporation platform and ExPERT technology to “develop and advance” its allogeneic CAR T treatments. MaxCyte will receive “undisclosed development, approval and commercial milestones in addition to other licensing fees”.

Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG) has reported profits for its 2019 financial year are “ahead of expectations” as recurring revenues surged thanks to its Software & Platforms business. In a trading update, the AIM-listed firm reported that for the year ended 31 December statutory pre-tax profit was £14.3mln, 316% ahead of the prior year, while revenues jumped 39% to £130.1mln.

Minds + Machines Group Limited (LON:MMX) said the momentum it experienced at the end of 2019 has continued into the first quarter of 2020, and, as a result, it plans to press ahead with its share buyback programme even during this current coronavirus crisis. The internet top-level domain provider said in late January that revenue for 2019 would be “significantly ahead” of 2018 and so it proved, with Tuesday’s full-year results statement revealing that revenue was up 25% to US$17.3mln from US$12.4mln in 2018.

Tekcapital PLC’s (LON:TEK) portfolio firm, Salarius, has received an order from its distribution partner to launch its SaltMe! Range of low-sodium snack products across 71 stores in May. The launch of the crisp range represented “an important milestone for SaltMe!”, the investment firm said on Tuesday, adding that “thousands of customers” will now be able to buy the new crisp range, which uses Salarius’ MicroSalt particles for flavouring.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) has extended its agreement with a distributor called Extensor Robert Buczek to a further 15 Eastern European and Central Asian countries. Originally the tie-up with Extensor for its GoFigure consumer weight management product and functional ingredient SlimBiome covered Poland only. The enhanced deal will see GoFigure taken to Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Russia.

Oriole Resources PLC pared its losses to £1.41mln for the year to 31 December 2019, significantly down on the £2.25mln loss it booked in 2018. The savings were won by an increased focus on costs. In response to the current global situation relating to COVID-19, and with Cameroon’s borders closed, Oriole said limited exploration work is expected in the next three months. Consequently, its directors and senior management have taken reduced salaries for this period, in order to preserve the company’s cash reserves in anticipation of the proposed drilling campaign later in the year.

Anglo African Oil & Gas PLC (LON:AAOG) has announced new terms for the divestment of its Congo assets to Zenith Energy Ltd (LON:ZEN). The top-line deal value reduces to £800,000 from £1mln, but, the consideration will now be paid entirely in cash, whereas the original deal saw AAOG received £500,000 cash and £500,000 of Zenith shares. The group said the cash will be paid to AAOG in ten equal instalments.

BlueRock Diamonds PLC (LON:BRK) said it will close its Kareevlei mine as a result of a nationwide order in South Africa to shut down the mining industry. BlueRock has also removed its stones from its March diamond tender, due to an absence of international bidders.

Tlou Energy Ltd (LON:TLOU) has decided to significantly reduce costs in response to the difficult prevailing market conditions, triggered by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and lower oil and gas prices. The aim, the company said in a statement, is to make current funds last longer so that more time is available to conclude ongoing commercial and project finance negotiations.

Angling Direct PLC (LON:ANG) has said its retail stores are closed until further notice but its online offering remains operational as the coronavirus pandemic shut-down takes effect. The largest specialist fishing tackle and equipment retailer in the UK has shuttered its shops in compliance with the government’s overnight directive. It noted the measures of support that have been put in place by the government and expects to be a beneficiary of all that are applicable to the company.

Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC) told investors that it has extended its asset retirement agreement with the state of Ohio. The original arrangement had a five-year term and it has extended the deal for another five years, setting a new expiry date of 31 December 2029. In a statement, the company noted that the terms remain substantially unchanged though commitments increase so that the company is now required to plug 20 wells per year – up from 18 wells per year – over the full duration of the agreement.

Pan African Resources plc (LON:PAF) is to put its mining operations on care and maintenance, following a country-wide order from the South African government for companies to shut down.  The national lockdown requires all non-essential businesses and activities to be suspended, with people confined to their homes. Pan African said it has immediately available facilities of U$20mln.

Clinigen Group PLC (LON:CLIN) announced that, on 23 March 2020, two directors and one of its senior management team purchased ordinary shares in the group. It said Shaun Chilton bought 10,000 shares, Nick Keher 6,200 shares and David Bryant 4,763 shares. Chilton, Clinigen’s group chief executive officer commented: “Our share purchases are a strong endorsement of our strategy and underlie our belief in the Company and its prospects. We are the world experts in providing access to medicines across borders and we are working hard to support Hospital Pharmacists and Physicians across the US, EU and AAA region to help their patients in the current Coronavirus situation. We are confident of the continuing demand for our Clinical and Unlicensed Medicines services, and for our portfolio of hospital oncology and anti-infective medicines.”

Shanta Gold Limited (LON:SHG), the East Africa-focused gold producer, developer and explorer, said that, further to its announcement made on 20 February 2020 regarding the posting of written resolutions to holders of the unsecured subordinated convertible loan notes due April 2020, the written resolutions have been duly passed as Extraordinary Resolutions on 23 March 2020 receiving over 75% of votes in favour.  The group added, following the passing of the written resolutions the maturity date of the loan notes has been extended to April 2021 and Shanta is permitted to redeem the loan notes earlier – in whole or in part – if it so chooses, by notice to the holders.

6.55am: Rebound predicted 

The FTSE 100 is set for a reasonable rally on Tuesday morning as global stock markets showed signs of being encouraged by the wave of government and central bank responses to the coronavirus pandemic. 

London’s blue-chip equity index is expected to rise 222 points or around 4.5%, according to spread betters, with the Footsie having finished down 196 points, or 3.79% at 4,993 on the first day of the week.

Overnight, Wall Street finished in the red but above early lows, with the Dow Jones Industrials Average and S&P 500 index both losing 3% to close just below 18,592 and just above 2,237, respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite almost finished flat before a 0.3% dip at the end. 

Asian markets were strongly in the green ahead of the London open, with the Nikkei 225 jumping 7%, the Hang Seng rising 4.6% and the Shanghai Composite up 2.1%.

The US Federal Reserve made a surprise intervention overnight after politicians in Congress failed to agree on how a US$2trn coronavirus rescue package should be spent.

“That’s what the Fed is there for,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, market analyst at Swissquote. “The Fed pulled out the heavy artillery even before the Congress failed to find a midway and announced a second wave of massive monetary support on Monday, including unlimited Treasury and mortgage-backed securities purchases to set the market’s mind at rest.” 

A raft of flash PMI surveys will arrive from around the globe later in the day, showing the effects of the pandemic in March on the industrial and services elements of the economy for Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, US and EU as a whole.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank said: “Unlike the February releases, this month they’ll fully encompass the period in which concerns about the virus had spread from Asia to the US and Europe, and will be closely watched as a result. The consensus estimates on Bloomberg show that economists are expecting a deterioration across the board, with the question being by how much.”

It’s not quite clear what UK corporate news will look like for the rest of the week after the City’s financial watchdog told companies to hold back from publishing their annual results because of the coronavirus crisis. 

Over the weekend, the Financial Conduct Authority sent instructions to all listed companies to “observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks”.

The restrictions do not apply to AIM companies, however.

Significant announcements that had been expected on Tuesday:

FinalsKingfisher PLC (LON:KGF), AG Barr PLC (LON:BAG), Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR), 888 Holdings PLC (LON:888), Burford Capital Limited (LON:BUR), Eve Sleep PLC (LON:EVE), Accesso Technology Group PLC (LON:ACSO), Alliance Pharma PLC (LON:APH), Cambridge Cognition Holdings PLC (LON:COG), Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG), Mears Group PLC (LON:MER), Pelatro PLC (LON:PTRO), Personal Group Holdings PLC (LON:PGH), S&U PLC (LON:SUS), STM Group Plc (LON:STM), Xaar PLC (LON:XAR), Zotefoams PLC (LON:ZTF)

Interims: YouGov PLC (LON:YOU), Essensys PLC (LON:ESYS)

Economic data: UK flash PMIs, BoE statement, US flash PMIs

Around the markets:

  • Pound up 1% to US$1.1656
  • Oil up 4.3% to US$28.18 per barrel of Brent crude
  • Gold down 0.7% to US$1494.50

City headlines:


  • Johnson forced to close UK in bid to halt virus spread – all non-essential shops shut and police to enforce stay-at-home order
  • Coronavirus latest: China to ease travel ban on the province where the outbreak started
  • London is most vulnerable to coronavirus outbreak in the UK as the richest city has seen four times as many cases as any other region 
  • Burger King among UK businesses set to default on rents – retail and leisure groups battle to conserve cash to survive coronavirus crisis

The Times

  • British manufacturers will produce 30,000 emergency ventilators to help the NHS deal with the Covid-19 crisis, with 5,000 machines coming in the next fortnight and the rest in a matter of months
  • Banks have been inundated with requests for emergency loans as a government-backed scheme that could underwrite more than £1.2bn of credit to small businesses was launched
  • Banks will pay millions of pounds in fees to the government as part of the emergency coronavirus loans programme to help small businesses after a last-minute intervention by Brussels.
  • Germany has launched a package worth up to €750bn to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus outbreak on Europe’s largest economy, with Berlin aiming to take on new debt for the first time since 2013
  • About 7.5 million low and moderate earners in Britain have lost between 13 per cent and 18 per cent of their pension pots since the coronavirus crisis began.


  • Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure to protect the livelihoods of the UK’s five million self-employed workers as many face disaster during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Thousands of retail, hospitality and leisure firms have been given a last-minute reprieve allow them to suspend rent payments to landlords for at least three months.


  • Planners from the government are preparing to ask some of the 2.5 million people who have signed up to community groups set up to help people in coronavirus self-isolation to start delivering emergency food aid within days
  • Thousands of workers from across the country will continue to gather on the Hinkley Point C nuclear site but work on the £106bn HS2 project could be halted amid differing approaches in the construction industry to physical distancing aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19
  • Bosses at Sports Direct have said all its stores will remain open despite the UK lockdown because selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the company a vital asset