Published: 23 February 2021
PM Boris Johnson has set out his ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ for England. He announced that schools will open from 8th March. Two households or six people will be allowed to meet outdoors and the legal stay-at-home order will lapse from 29 March. Non-essential retailers, outdoor hospitality venues, and holiday lets for individual households may reopen from 12 April. International travel and indoor door hospitality will have to wait until at least 17 May to see restrictions lifted. The government hopes to remove "all legal limits on social contact" including weddings, live events and nightclubs from 21 June, potentially using testing to limit infections.
The PM promised continued support for businesses during the exit from lockdown, saying in parliament: "We will not pull the rug out.”
Restrictions on International Travel will only follow a review in April, led by transport secretary Grant Shapps. However, travel and associated stocks, hard hit by restrictions, rose sharply on yesterday’s news. British Airways owner IAG and jet maker Rolls Royce were among the FTSE 100’s top risers. IAG was up almost 7% by 4.30pm in the UK, while Rolls Royce gained 6.5%. The InterContinental Hotels Group gained 3.6%, and Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn, about 3.4%. Budget airline EasyJet gained 7%, while rival Ryanair rose 4.7% and Wizz Air was up 6.7%.
Travel and tourism company TUI surged almost 8%. Cruise-ship operator Carnival also soared over 8%.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the pub and restaurant sector was "devastated that its reopening will be so far away." She warned that thousands of businesses faced going bankrupt before they could reopen, as latest government data show nearly two-thirds of hospitality businesses will run out of cash before May, before they are allowed to re-open. Almost 65,000 pubs and restaurant have been shut since January, according to property group Altus.
Gym chains have voiced their concerns about cash burn under lockdown. Budget franchise PureGym told the BBC their enforced shutdowns had cost them at least £120m. The Gym Group has already announced monthly cash burn during lockdown of £5m.
The UK Unemployment rate rose to 5.1% in the three months December, the highest level since early 2016, according to the latest data available from the Office for National Statistics. More recent payroll data shows employers have now slashed 726,000 jobs since February 2020, although there was an increase in payroll numbers month-to-month. Job cuts have fallen most heavily on 18 to 24 year olds, the ONS said
A former publican and neighbour of Health Secretary Matt Hancock who secured lucrative work worth £30 million producing vials for NHS Covid tests, despite having no prior experience in the medical devices industry, is under investigation by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The Guardian reports officers at his local South Cambridgeshire council raised about hygiene and safety standards at the firm. Alex Bourne secured the contract after sending the Health Secretary WhatsApp messages offering his services.
A new government report shows the UK's growing cyber industry attracted record investment last year. The report headlines the fact that almost 50,000 people are now employed in UK cyber security; the number of active cyber security firms has increased 21 per cent on last year; and that the sector contributed more than £4bn to the economy, attracting £800m of investment.
Yahoo Finance UK reports that Alan Howard, the billionaire cofounder of hedge fund Brevan Howard, has backed a startup building a Venmo-like app for cryptocurrencies. London-based Bottlepay said on Tuesday it had raised £11m in seed funding in total. PayPal said last year it would allow customers to handle bitcoin through its platform and Mastercard followed suite earlier this month. BNY Mellon, America's oldest bank, said it too would handle bitcoin on behalf of clients.
Aviva has agreed to sell its French business to Aema Groupe for €3.2bn in cash as it looks to focus on its strongest businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada.
Shoe Zone finance director Peter Foot has left the business, the company said on Monday, after only seven months in the job and two weeks before the publication of annual results. Shares fell 6.3% on the news.
Cruise line Carnival announced yesterday it will float $1 billion worth of its common stock in a public offering. The company has been losing between $3 and $4.4 billion every quarter since the start of the pandemic. Repeated attempts to re-start cruising have been pushed back and the company fell out of the FTSE 100 on the London Stock Exchange.
Aircraft maker Boeing recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide yesterday, following a catastrophic engine failure event on Saturday. One engine failed on United flight 328 shortly after leaving Denver International Airport en route to Honolulu. The disintegration scattered debris across Denver before the aircraft made an emergency landing. Boeing said airlines using the same type of Pratt & Whitney engine should suspend operations until inspections were conducted.
HSBC has reinstated dividend payments despite annual profits slumping by a third, mostly because of credit loss provisions caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The bank reported pre-tax profits of $8.8bn (£6.25bn) on income of $50.4bn in 2020, a 34% fall on 2019.
Johnson & Johnson has set aside $3.9 billion in litigation expenses in 2020, which the drugmaker says was "primarily associated with talc-related reserves and certain settlements". The company faces 25,000 lawsuits by former users of its baby powder who say asbestos-laced talc in the product caused their cancers. Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. Two US courts have already ordered the company to pay $2.24bn in damages.
Qatar Airways has told pilots made redundant during the coronavirus crisis that they should apply to rejoin the airline as it plans to increase services. In a letter to "former crew colleagues", seen by Sky News, the airline says it is "now looking to restart recruitment activities to adequately resource our Boeing operations, and would like to invite you to rejoin the airline at the earliest opportunity".
Streaming platform Spotify is to launch in 85 new markets, bringing the service to more than a billion extra people. The announcement came via a livestreaming event featuring Justin Bieber, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Most of the new markets are developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean.
InterContinental Hotels has tumbled into the red and scrapped its final dividend after what it called the most challenging year in its history. Total revenues in the year to 31 December came in at $2.39bn, down 48% on 2019, while the operating loss was $153m against a profit of $630m a year previously.
The CEO of Porsche has warned in an interview with CNBC that a global shortage of semiconductor chips could impact production for months. The shortage is affecting the entire automobile industry.
The cleaners’ branch of the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain has told Yahoo Finance UK that it is receiving up to 15 calls a day from members facing redundancy. The IWGB launched a "fair furlough now" campaign last week, backed by more than a dozen Labour MPs, to extend the furlough scheme and make it compulsory in place of lay-offs, unless employers can prove unviability. The wider IWGB, which represents insecure and gig economy workers including private hire drivers and couriers, also reports a "tidal wave of cases relating to mass redundancies."
Gig workers are common in the services sector, but a survey of over 500 financial services businesses by PwC suggests they too could employ already employs up to a fifth of their future workforces as independent contractors or freelancers: 52% expect to have more gig-based employees over the next three to five years. At the moment, gig-economy talent makes up 5% of the current financial services businesses workforce.
China has regained its position as India's top trading partner last year’s bloody border conflict which led India to ban 220 Chinese tech apps. Two-way trade between the Asian countries stood at $77.7bn (£55.2bn) last year.
The Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using its name to sell the firm's classic sports utility vehicles. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr said "it's time" for companies and sports teams to retire Native American iconography from logos, mascots and other products. Jeep has sold vehicles under the name since the 1970s. The current make is one of its most popular vehicles.
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