- FTSE 100 closes up 74 points
- Fed expected to cut its benchmark rates later this month
- Central banks can only do so much, OECD’s chief economist cautions
5.05pm: FTSE 100 closes higher as markets bounce back
FTSE 100 closed in the green on Monday after a choppy session, while US stocks also gained, as the acute selling bout appeared to ease for now.
Britain’s blue-chip index closed on Friday down 3.17% after a torrid week but today finished up around 74 points at 6,654 as traders appeared to take heart from chatter about the globe’s central banks loosening policy to combat the coronavirus threat.
FTSE 250, the more UK company focused index, headed south though, shedding over 29 points at 19,301.
“Stocks haven’t exactly roared higher today after Friday’s late rally, but they have at least managed to hold their ground for the time being,” noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trader IG.
“The weekend passed without the hoped-for (in some quarters) co-ordinated central bank action, but there was just enough movement on that front from the BoJ and others to keep the flame of hope alive.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged around 738 points at 26,147, while the S&P 500 gained around 83 to 3,037.
The pound lost 0.21% against the dollar, and gold added 1.92% to US$1,596.80 an ounce.
3.45pm: FTSE up 27 points
The UK government has revealed that 40 people out of 13,525 who were tested have COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK chief medical officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate.
In the stock market, investors seem more concerned about what – if anything – central banks will do to offset the impact of the spread of the coronavirus.
However, Laurence Boone, the chief economist at the OECD, warned that central banks can only do so much and called on governments to act as well.
“We do not think this is a shock that can be managed by central banks alone,” she said in a statement today as the OECD cut its growth forecasts for 2020.
The FTSE 100 was up 27 points (0.4%) at 6,608.
2.35pm: The bulls make a tentative return
US investors seem to be having as much trouble as UK ones in discerning whether it is safe to return to the market.
Futures markets this morning pointed to a firm start; then over lunch, the outlook turned distinctly cloudy before clearing up, and the Dow Jones is now 170 points higher (0.7%) at 25,580.
In the UK, the FTSE 100 has taken heart from the US switchback rise and is now up 43 points (0.7%) at 6,623.
Part of the reason for US investors’ optimism is the expectation that the Federal Reserve will lower its Fed funds target rate by a quarter of a point this month in response to the potential negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We emphasise that the coronavirus is a negative real supply shock to China and some other regions that is rippling through the global economy and cannot be fixed by monetary policy easing. Moreover, monetary policy is already easy, with ample excess reserves in the banking system and very loose financial conditions, including the lowest bond yields in history,” observed Berenberg Capital Markets.
“However, the Fed is very concerned about how the sharp decline in the stock market may hit US consumer confidence, a strong point that has been supporting solid gains in consumption and housing while industrial production, business investment and exports have been weak. The sizeable fall in oil prices related to global economic weakness is expected to lower energy prices and push headline inflation further below the Fed’s 2% inflation target, which gives the Fed more flexibility to provide an emergency ease under the circumstances,” it added.
1,25pm: Grand old Duke of York makes a surprise appearance
It’s turning into a Grand Old Duke of York day, with the FTSE 100 more or less back to square one now.
London’s index of leading shares was up 2 points (0.0%) at 6,583, with pest killer Rentokil PLC (LON:RTO), up 4.8% at 507.4p, the best performing blue-chip.
The company had decent results last week, which may account for its popularity today; either that or people have got hold of the wrong end of the stick about its bug-killing capabilities (the wrong sort of bug from a coronavirus perspective).
Talking of the coronavirus, the outbreak has reportedly scuppered the plans of Saga PLC (LON:SAGA), the company that sells insurance and holidays to the over 50s, to sell its Titan Tours business, according to Sky News.
Shares in Saga were down 2.7%.
12.30pm: FTSE 100 adopts a familiar hue: red
The FTSE 100 has now surrendered all of its early morning gains and is languishing in the red.
Furthermore, US indices are now expected to open on the back foot as well.
Spread betting quotes suggest the Dow Jones will open at around 25,186 and the S&P 500 at about 2,923, down 225 and 31 points respectively.
The FTSE 100, meanwhile, is down 64 points (1.0%) at 6,516 and heading south at a rate of knots.
As earlier, travel and banking stocks are suffering most but DIY retailer Kingfisher plc (LON:KGF), in danger of losing its FTSE 100 status in this month’s reshuffle, is also taking a hammering, down 5.3% at 179.35p.
Greenpeace activists have shut down over 95 @Barclays branches up and down the UK.
Banks are continuing to fund fossil fuel companies & Barclays is the worst in Europe.
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) March 2, 2020
11.35am: Gains all but disappear as OECD slashes growth forecasts
After a flying start, the FTSE 100 is barely in positive territory after a gloomy pronouncement from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
London’s top-shares index was up just 16 points (0.2%) at 6,596 after the OECD slashed its G20 growth forecast for 2020 to just 2.4%, from 2.9% predicted three months ago.
There are no prizes for guessing the reason for the less optimistic outlook: the coronavirus.
The OECD downgraded its 2020 growth forecast for China to 4.9% from 5.7% previously, while it eased back the growth forecast for the US to 1.9% from 2.0%. The OECD lopped two-tenths of a percentage point off its growth forecast for the UK, which now stands at 0.8%.
Economists at least had some UK economic news to cheer in the form of the UK manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for February, which showed manufacturing activity at a 10-month high.
“The headline PMI overstates the strength of the manufacturing sector as a marked positive contribution came from a sharp increase of supplier delivery times. This is normally seen as positive and reflecting strong demand- but in this instance, it was due to the disruption to supply chains stemming from coronavirus,” cautioned Howard Archer, the chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club.
Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the UK manufacturing sector simply cannot catch a break.
“The output index picked up to 52.2 in February, from 50.1 in January consistent with the official measure of production stabilising in Q1 [first quarter], after a 1.2% drop in Q4. The 51.9 level of the new orders index suggested that demand was broadly flat too, while manufacturers were the most upbeat about the 12-month outlook for demand since last May but disruptions to supply chains caused by the Covid-19 outbreak look set to depress production over the coming months,” Tombs said.
“The suppliers’ delivery times index fell the most in February in the survey’s 28-year history, signalling that firms will struggle to fulfil orders. Stocks of purchases and finished goods also have begun to fall rapidly. Note too that 80% of responses to Markit’s survey were received by February 19–the cut-off for the flash reading–and so were received before financial markets went into a tailspin and the virus spread to Western economies. Accordingly, we have to brace for a sharp fall in manufacturing output over the spring,” Tombs warned.
10.20am: The rally continues to fade
UK mortgage approvals rose to 70,888 in January from 67,930 in December, according to figures from the Bank of England.
The January figure was the highest since February 2016 and above the consensus forecast of 68,000.
The annual growth rate in unsecured consumer lending was unchanged from December’s level at 6.1%.
Net consumer credit rose by GBP1.2bn in January, compared with the consensus forecast of a GBP1.0bn increase.
“The highest rate of mortgage approvals in almost three years and particularly so early in the year is yet further proof, if it were ever needed, that buyers are returning in their droves following December’s election result,” said Marc von Grundheer, a director of Benham and Reeves.
“It is this huge influx of demand that has seen prices increase at such notable rates of late and as a result, the market is now in the best shape it’s been since the EU Referendum itself.
“Not only are seeing performance exceed expectations but there is a very real chance of an interest rate cut on the horizon, which will further boost buyer sentiment, borrowing, and overall market performance,” he added.
Forecasting unit Pantheon Macroeconomic said is it now more likely that the Bank of England‘s monetary policy committee (MPC) will cut its benchmark rate but the market should expect a more timid response than from other central banks.
“The BoE won’t want to be an outlier, if, as now seems likely, all the other major central banks loosen policy to fight the virus. As a result, we now think that the MPC will cut Bank Rate to 0.50% this month, from 0.75%, and would not rule out a move coming before the Committee’s next scheduled meeting on March 26,” said Pantheon’s chief UK economist, Samuel Tombs.
“Liquidity operations likely will form part of the stimulus package too. Nonetheless, we think the BoE will signal that the rate cut is a temporary measure which will be reversed soon after virus-related disruption has faded,” he added.
The FTSE 100 continued to give up early gains in mid-morning trading, subsiding to 6,652, up 71 points (1.1%) on the day.
10.00am: February’s manufacturing PMI is revised down slightly
The UK manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for February was revised to 51.7 from the flash estimate figure of 51.9; January’s reading was 50.0.
A reading above 50.0 indicates an expansion in activity; February’s reading was the first time in 10 months the index had risen above 50.
IHS Markit/CIPS, which conducts the survey, said growth strengthened in both the consumer and intermediate goods sectors but the downturn at investment goods producers continued.
“The main factor underlying output growth was improved intakes of new work. Business optimism also strengthened, hitting a nine-month high, reflecting planned new investment, product launches, improved market conditions and a more settled political outlook,” IHS said
The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak had a noticeable impact on supply chains during February, IHS added. Average vendor lead times lengthened to the greatest extent since July 2018, while the eight-point drop in the level of the seasonally adjusted Suppliers’ Delivery Times Index was the largest in the 28-year history of the survey. Recent storms and flooding in the UK also had an impact.
“The UK manufacturing sector remained in recovery mode in February, as reduced levels of political uncertainty following last year’s general election translated into further growth of output and new orders,” said Rob Dobson, a director at IHS Markit.
“Supply-chain disruptions were emerging rapidly, however, as the COVID-19 outbreak led to a substantial lengthening of supplier lead times, raw material shortages, reduced inventories of inputs, rising input costs and reduced export orders from Asia and China in particular.
“The expansion of output was nonetheless the fastest since April 2019, as stronger demand from the domestic market led to the steepest increase in new work in 11 months. Business optimism also improved to a nine-month high; however, the upturn remains confined to the consumer and intermediate goods sectors, as the downturn at investment goods producers continued.
“This suggests that business confidence levels have yet to recover sufficiently to support a sustained rise in capital spending. With supply-chain headwinds rising, and trade negotiations with the EU starting, it remains to be seen whether the recovery can stay on course during the coming months,” he added.
UK manufacturers indicated a faster overall upturn in February, with the PMI rising to 51.7 (50.0 – Jan). Output rose at a quicker pace amid stronger domestic demand. Supply chain delays emerged, however, placing pressure on inventories and costs. More: https://t.co/r8SBcgrvQZ pic.twitter.com/rcohrX7GyK
— IHS Markit PMI(TM) (@IHSMarkitPMI) March 2, 2020
Duncan Brock, the group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), said the manufacturing sector was “on a slightly firmer footing” in February.
“Optimism rode high, as domestic clients set aside major fears about the economy, Brexit and political uncertainty to get production moving again,” Brock said.
“Though overall activity in the sector did pick up the pace in February, the weakest performance by suppliers since July 2018 as measured by the suppliers’ delivery times index showed a startling deterioration in the performance of global supply chains. This domino effect resulted in shortages of raw materials and the highest input price inflation since June, as not all supplies could be redirected to suppliers who were able to fulfil requests.
“With no clear end to the disruption in sight, the gains made by the manufacturing at the beginning of the year could soon be lost. A vortex of poor UK weather conditions, underlying remaining Brexit fears and now the Coronavirus will strip the sector of any significant wins if supply chains continue to disintegrate in the coming months,” he added.
The FTSE 100 continued to slowly relinquish some of its handsome early gains; the Footsie was up 140 points (2.1%) at 6,721.
9.40am: More widespread infection is inevitable and could happen soon
Some news from Public Health England to give you pause over brunch this morning.
Professor Paul Cosford, the director for Health Protection and the medical director of Public Health England, said in a telly interview this morning that it is likely “we will see more widespread infection in the UK”.
“At the moment, the vast majority of cases we see in the UK are still linked to countries where there is more widespread infection, either in Italy or south-east Asia.
“It is true to say there is a small number now where it is much more difficult to find that link, and that is leading us to think we may well see more widespread infection in the UK fairly soon.
“It could happen in the next few days or it could take a little longer,” he advised.
The total number of cases globally rose by 2,358 yesterday, almost double the 1,289 average over the previous five days, said Pantheon Macroeconomics in its daily coronavirus update.
“China, South Korea, Italy and Iran account for 90% of new cases; other countries reported 246 cases yesterday, a record and more than double the 119 average for the previous five days, but still very low in absolute terms.
“China cases rose by 575; the trend may be re-accelerating but it’s too soon to be sure.
“Non-China cases rose by 1,783, more than double the 889 average over the previous five days,” Pantheon reported.
The FTSE 100 was up 140 points (2.41) at 6,721.
9.25am: BoE monitoring developments
The Bank of England has got with the zeitgeist and said it is prepared to do something to ginger-up the economy if it is hit hard by the coronavirus fall-out.
A spokesman for the central bank said, “The Bank continues to monitor developments and is assessing its potential impacts on the global and UK economies and financial systems.
“The Bank is working closely with HM Treasury and the FCA – as well as our international partners – to ensure all necessary steps are taken to protect financial and monetary stability.”
The FTSE 100, which got off to a flyer this morning, was having a pause for breath, as it tends to do after half an hour’s trading, and had ebbed to 6,736, up 156 points (2.4%).
At 8.30 there was just one Footsie constituent – platinum refiner Johnson Matthey PLC (LON:JMAT) – in the red; now there are 11, including travel-related stocks International Consolidated Airlines (LON:IAG), Carnival PLC (LON:CCL) and easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ), down 4.7%, 1.7% and 0.6% respectively.
Mid-cap airline Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ), up 1.0%, was out of step with its sector peers, edging higher after it concluded the definitive agreement with its partner Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding to jointly establish Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Banks are also getting it in the neck, slightly, as a cut in interest rates does them no favours. Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) was down 1.1%; Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (LON:RBS) was off 0.8% and Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) was 0.2% lower.
8.40am: Off to a fast start
Although doubts remain just how much more central banks can do, the Footsie has opened sharply higher on expectations of further stimuli.
Travel-related stocks have been hit hard by the coronavirus fears, as have mining stocks and the latter also feature prominently among the big Footsie gainers.
“A new wave of policy stimulus is on the way. Central banks across the globe are re-opening their toolboxes with the BoJ [Bank of Japan] announcing action to provide liquidity, the Fed projected to cut interest rates and most developed and emerging market monetary policy makers ready to act. Governments are also taking action with Italy announcing fiscal measures to mitigate the covid19 outbreak’s impact,” said Lukman Otunuga, the senior research analyst at FXTM.
“So far, it seems the reassurance of combined monetary and fiscal measures are calming the financial markets. After initially dropping in early Asia trade, most equity markets are recovering from last week’s steep sell-off. China’s Shenzhen is up more than 3% at the time of writing, Japan’s Nikkei is 1% higher, UK’s FTSE 100 future added 2.3% and all three major US indices are indicating a higher open.” he added.
The company, which is a supplier to troubled US aeroplane maker Boeing, managed to beat market expectations with its 2019 profits but warned that the company its performance in 2020 will continue to be affected by the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX.
Proactive news headlines:
Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has agreed to farm-out a 24.5% working interest in its Thali licence in Cameroon to Australia-based private company OiLR. The farm-out will provide US$7.5mln towards the cost of the NJPOM-3 well at Thali, which has an estimated total cost of US$15-16mln.
Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX) said late on Friday that bid discussions with Yesod Bio-Sciences Limited have been terminated and, separately, revealed that it has secured funding via a share subscription. In a statement, the board of the AIM-listed drug discovery and development company said it had decided that the possible offer from Yesod substantially undervalued Redx and its assets.
Tekcapital PLC (LON:TEK), the UK intellectual property investment group, said its portfolio company Salarius has signed a distribution agreement for its Saltme! snack brand. The agreement covers North America and is with one of North America’s largest natural food wholesalers. Tekcapital has a 91.7% stake in Salarius.
Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) (OTCMKTS:SMCDY) remains in good shape, according to its managing director John Peters. He was commenting in an update on operations, in which the company highlighted its continuing access to cashflow from the Cobre stockpile, progress at the company’s Leigh Creek copper mine development, and continuing exploration at Redmoor. There has also been progress on arbitration related to a dispute around a purchaser of material from Cobre, the group added.
BigDish PLC (LON:DISH) said the fourth week of February was a record week for new client additions. The dining deals and discounts offerer revealed that 58 new restaurants signed up to its yield management platform in the final full week of February, taking the total number added in February up to 166.
IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) has entered into an agreement with Major Star to acquire 100% of the Bodite and Bianouan gold licences in Cote d’Ivoire. In return, Ironridge will issue 1,550,388 shares at 18p each to the seller, Major Star. The issue price is at a significant premium to IronRidge’s current share price of 11.75p.
Midatech Pharma PLC (LON:MPTH) is to start a second Phase I study for its child brain tumour treatment MTX110. Columbia University in New York will run the new trial, but use a different delivery system to the ongoing safety and dosing study at the University of California.
SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE) has announced the successful production of 100 tonnes of fuel pellets for large scale combustion testing and the successful completion of large scale milling tests on the 100% waste-derived fuel pellets to be used at the Uskmouth power station, post-conversion. In a statement, the AIM-listed global developer, owner and operator of sustainable energy projects said this is a key milestone for the project and provides further confidence that the energy pellets developed as a high calorific value, low-cost alternative to coal are able to be produced in commercial quantities and can be milled using industry-standard designs.
Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) (NASDAQFIRSTNORTH:FARON) has acquired rights for the potential new use of AOC3 protein inhibitors, the overexpression of which has been connected with many vascular diseases such as stroke. In a statement, the Finland-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company noted that the Invention has been discovered by Faron’s scientific network, with one of Inventors academician Sirpa Jalkanen, the wife of Faron’s chief executive officer, Markku Jalkanen.
MTI Wireless Edge Ltd (LON:MWE) upped its dividend by a third as profits and cashflow picked up strongly over the past year. The antennas and agtech specialist said revenues rose by 13% to US$40mln (US$35.5m), with profits rising by 29% to US$3.4mln as margins benefited from a greater scale.
Bacanora Lithium PLC (LON:BCN) has turned in a pre-tax loss of GBP4.9mln for the six months to December 2019, down from the GBP11mln lost during the corresponding period in 2018. The loss includes US$2.8mln of general and administrative costs, and share-based payment compensation of US$300,000. The overall loss was lower due to reduced corporate overheads.
Anglo Pacific Group PLC (LON:APF) (TSX:APY) has entered into a financing agreement which will see it help fund the construction of Incoa Performance Minerals LLC’s calcium carbonate mine and associated infrastructure in the Dominican Republic, as well as a processing facility located in Mobile, Alabama, in the USA. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said that the financing, made together with Orion Mineral Royalty Fund LP – Series 1 and Orion Mineral Royalty Fund LP – Overflow Series 1, will fund Incoa’s production of high-quality ground calcium carbonate to be marketed principally to the domestic US calcium carbonate market.
NQ Minerals PLC (NEX:NQMI) (OTCMKTS:NQMLF) has agreed a definitive term sheet with the Traxys Group and a leading European natural resources bank for a US$60mln debt facility. The new debt will be used to refinance debt raised to start mining and processing at the flagship Hellyer base and precious metals mine in Tasmania.
Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX), the medical-imaging technology company, with a proprietary drug-device combination product for the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) market, said it will receive approximately US$45,000 after issuing 232,010 new ordinary shares of GBP0.00037 each at par value following the exercise of warrants by Amphion Innovations PLC. Following the exercise, Amphion will hold 232,010 ordinary shares, representing 0.2% of the company’s issued share capital with voting rights, and will not hold any Polarean warrants.
Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) has raised GBP245,000 through a private placement. The proceeds, together with the recently announced proceeds from the sale of shares in Tembo Gold Corp will be used to support ongoing exploration at the company’s Bibemi project in Cameroon.
Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) announced late on Friday that it has agreed amendments to its existing loan facility and equity sharing agreement (ESA) with investors YA II PN, Ltd and RiverFort Global Opportunities PCC Limited – formerly Cuart Investments PCC Limited. In a statement, the AIM-listed firm said the maturity date of the existing loan facility, of which approximately GBP0.7mln in principal remains outstanding, has been extended to June 2021 from December 2020. It added that the terms of the ESA have been amended so that the subscription amount will now be received over a period of 36 months commencing in March 2020, as opposed to over a period of 12 months.
Solo Oil PLC‘s (LON:SOLO) proposed reverse takeover with ONE-Dyas gas fell through due to a failure to renegotiate terms after a slump in European gas prices. In addition, cost forecasts rose, while the share price was knocked by Brexit uncertainty.
Greencoat UK Wind PLC (LON:UKW) announced that its Annual General Meeting will be held at the offices of Greencoat Capital LLP, 4th Floor, The Peak, 5 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1AN at 2.00pm on 30 April 2020.
Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) said it will announce its full-year 2019 results on 19 March 2020. The company said there will be a presentation for analysts and investors at 0900 GMT on the day, with an associated webcast available on the company’s website.
6.40am: Market poised to jump on central bank stimulus hopes
The FTSE 100 is predicted to jump higher on the first day of trading in March on increased expectations that major central banks will cut interest rates in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
London’s blue-chip index is seen rising 111 points on Monday, according to spread betters, a small rebound after heavy blood-letting around global markets resulted in the worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.
Last week, the Footsie ended at 6,580, down over 215 points or 3.2% on Friday and falling 838 points or 11.3% over the week.
Over the weekend, Chinese PMI data for February printed at their lowest levels in history, with the Caixin manufacturing PMI overnight less bad but still coming in well below expectations.
Economists at ING said the “eye-watering” numbers “will shock the market”.
But Asian markets are mostly in the green on Monday on hopes of stimulus measures from central banks, beginning with Australia’s Reserve Bank tomorrow and followed by the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and others.
Markets are now pricing near-100% certainty that the Fed will cut interest rates at its 18 March meeting, while there is seen as around a 50% chance that the Bank of England will make a cut at its planned 26 March meeting and a near certainty of a cut by June.
“We cannot rule out Governor Carney calling an emergency MPC meeting in the coming days, given the rising risk the virus reaches an explosive stage of transmission in Europe, causing more market mayhem and substantial economic costs,” said economist Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
The number of cases of the Covid-19 virus in the UK climbed to 36 on Sunday as 13 new cases were reported, the largest single-day increase of new cases in the country so far.
Later on Monday, PM Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee, known as COBRA, to plan for containing and slowing the spread of the virus, with a coronavirus “battle plan” to be published this week.
As the start of a new month, Monday will also kick off a new swathe of macroeconomic data, with the UK manufacturing purchasing managers index at 9.30am, along with Bank of England money supply figures.
In company news, there is a small smattering of results on the agenda, before numbers pick up later in the week.
Around the markets
Gold: US$1,604.60, up 2.4%
Pound: sterling US$1.2844, up 0.2%
Oil: brent crude US$51.34, up 3.4%
Bitcoin: US$8,642.14, up 1.2%
Significant announcements expected for Monday 2 March:
Economic data: UK manufacturing PMI, US manufacturing PMI
- BoJ spurs Asia markets rebound with vow to fight coronavirus – emergency statement from Japan central bank raises hopes of coordinated monetary action
- UK regulator warns Deutsche over compliance failings – repeated systems and controls failings risk delaying post-Brexit reauthorisation
- UK’s CMA is the most aggressive antitrust enforcer – Competition and Markets Authority frustrated highest share of deals worldwide
- Johnson: We’ll stop at nothing to tackle virus – PM will pledge today that the government will “stop at nothing” to fight coronavirus as ministers prepare the public for drastic measures to tackle the spread of the illness
- Thousands of former Northern Rock shareholders are planning to restart their fight for compensation after the nationalised bank was left with GBP5 billion in surplus equity having repaid its government loans in full.
- A fintech company, backed by Sir Alex Ferguson and veteran investor Jon Moulton, that provides financial services to vulnerable customers has been hit by a spate of customer complaints and questions over why its accounts are five months late
- A swath of highly indebted companies face an incipient funding shock and risk being shut out of the capital markets as the COVID-19 epidemic mushrooms into global crisis, Standard & Poor’s has warned
- Extreme rainfall which has left parts of Britain underwater may push up food prices and pile pressure on farmers’ finances as crops are washed out, agriculture experts have warned
- Waitrose is preparing a new push into grocery delivery to meet the online threat from Marks & Spencer, even as the John Lewis Partnership behind it suffers a steep fall in profits
- The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak exceeded 3,000 on Monday as South Korea reported almost 500 new cases of the disease and a second person died in the US
- The chancellor is planning to scrap a GBP3bn tax relief that mainly benefits the wealthy in a bid to raise cash for an expected increase in public spending in the budget on 11 March
- Pete Buttigieg has ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with a call for Democrats to unite in their fight to beat Donald Trump in the election