Level 2

Weekly review

By Josh White

Date: Friday 22 May 2020

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE 100 ended the week up 193.51 points at 5,993.28.
Equity view

Intellectual property developer IP Group said its portfolio company Oxford Nanopore Technologies was in advanced development of a new generation of end-to-end test (assay) for the detection of the virus that causes Covid-19.

United Utilities increased its final dividend but said it would review its dividend policy after £56m of Covid-19 costs contributed to a £5m decline in annual operating profit.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals announced on Friday that its wholly-owned US subsidiary has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its icosapent ethyl capsules at one gram, which is its generic equivalent to 'Vascepa'.

Close Brothers set aside £86.7m for bad debts in its third quarter to reflect the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the economy and the merchant bank's clients.

EasyJet said it would begin to restart flying on 15 June with extra measures to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19.

Intellectual property-based business developer IP Group has sold 12.25 million shares in Ceres Power for 425p each, it announced on Thursday.

Intertek said it would pay its final dividend as the company reported a 4.6% fall in revenue for the first four months of 2020.

FTSE 250 investment platform AJ Bell reported a jump in interim profit on Thursday and held its dividend as customer numbers grew.

Industrial thread maker Coats Group reported a slump in sales on Wednesday as it took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Experian left its dividend unchanged as the information services company said the Covid-19 crisis and currency swings could reduce first-quarter revenue by up to 15%.

Bookmaker William Hill said it could receive a windfall of up to £150m after the industry won a challenge over sales tax on controversial fixed-odds machines in betting shops.

Great Portland Estates reported a 0.3% fall in its portfolio valuation down 0.3% for the year ended 31 March on Wednesday, although developments were up 11.9%, with offices up 1.0% and retail down 3.5%.

Chilean copper miner Antofagasta said on Tuesday that it has cut its 2019 final dividend in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to slow its spread.

Homeserve posted a jump in full-year revenue on Tuesday and hiked its dividend but warned that Checkatrade breakeven will be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DCC increased its final dividend as the marketing and support services company reported a rise in annual profit and "robust" trading in April and May.

Convenience food company Greencore said on Tuesday that demand for its food-to-go categories was beginning to stabilise after a sharp decline due to the coronavirus outbreak, as it announced it was cancelling its final dividend.

Mitchells & Butlers said the waiver agreed with lenders to avoid a breach of its financing terms had been extended for three weeks.

Hochschild Mining said it was restarting operations at its Inmaculada and Pallancata mines in Peru and expected to reissue full year guidance once it hit full production and the overall impact of coronavirus suspensions was clear.

AstraZeneca, alongside its partner Daiichi Sankyo, announced on Monday that 'Enhertu', or trastuzumab deruxtecan, has been granted breakthrough therapy designation in the United States.

GlaxoSmithKline said on Monday that ViiV Healthcare, in which it owns a majority stake, is ending a study early after finding that its long-acting injectable formulation of cabotegravir dosed every two months shows higher efficacy than daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in preventing HIV transmission.

Economic news

The volume of retail sales plunged by a record 18.1% in April as the shutdown of most stores during the Covid-19 crisis took full effect, official figures showed.

Public borrowing soared to an historic high in April, after the government brought in a raft of measures to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, official data showed on Friday.

The UK's private sector struggled in May, a widely-watched survey published on Thursday found, as Covid-19 lockdown measures weighed heavily on the economy.

UK manufacturing output slumped at a record pace in May, the CBI reported on Thursday, as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to batter the British economy.

UK inflation fell to a near four-year low of 0.8% as energy costs fell and clothing retailers cut prices to shift stock during the coronavirus crisis, official figures showed.

Investors paid the UK government to borrow money for the first time on Wednesday as Britain sold a bond at a negative yield.

The UK Treasury on Tuesday extended the size of loans available to larger businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

UK unemployment surged to a 24-year-high of 2.1m in April as employers laid off workers at a record pace during the Covid-19 crisis.

Train companies increased services on Monday to cope with the easing of coronavirus travel restrictions in England as unions called for compulsory safety measures.

Household finances remained under severe pressure in May, a survey showed on Monday, as income from employment fell at the fastest rate on record.

International events

China will not set an economic growth target for this year due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Premier Li Keqiang announced on Friday.

Top White House health expert Anthony Fauci is confident that the US could begin to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by December.

The eurozone economy stayed mired in its deepest downturn in May but the rate of decline eased as parts of the economy started to emerge from Covid-19 lockdowns, a survey showed.

Initial weekly jobless claims in the States continued to rise at an accelerated but revised figures for the prior week revealed a larger than expected slowdown.

Eurozone inflation fell to a four-year low in April as energy prices slid amid the coronavirus lockdown, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday.

Crispin Odey, one of Europe's most prominent hedge fund managers, has said governments might ban private ownership of gold if inflation runs out of control after the Covid-19 crisis.

German investor sentiment picked up in May, according to the latest survey from the ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim.

Nasdaq will unveil new restrictions on initial public offerings as part of an effort to make it more difficult for Chinese firms to debut on its stock exchange, according to Reuters.

Gold prices have soared to a near-eight year high as concerns about the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic mount.

Japan's economy has slid into recession for the first time since 2015, government data showed on Monday.

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