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William Hill warns on Covid closures, Segro rental collection strong

By Josh White

Date: Wednesday 21 Oct 2020

(Sharecast News) - London open

The FTSE 100 is expected to open eight points higher on Wednesday, having closed up 0.08% on Tuesday, at 5,889.22.
Stocks to watch

Bookmaker William Hill said 10% of its UK betting shops were located in 'high level' Covid-19 alert areas as the government started to introduce tougher measures to combat a resurgence of the coronavirus. It added that core earnings would fall by £2m if 100 shops were shut for four weeks. The group, currently subject to a £2.9bn takeover offer from Las Vegas casino operator Caesars Entertainment, reported third quarter group revenue down 9%, offset by a strong performance in the US.

Segro reported 'strong' rental collection in its fourth quarter on Wednesday, currently at 85% of total rent billed, which was higher than at the equivalent date in the second and third quarters. The FTSE 100 commercial landlord said a further 13% had been deferred by agreement with its tenants, most of which was now payable monthly, meaning that the majority of that would have been received by the end of the year.

Newspaper round-up

Royal Mail postal workers will for the first time collect parcels on the doorstep, in one of the biggest changes to the service as it adapts to the decline in letters and rapid growth in online shopping. From Wednesday customers across the UK will be able to pay a fee of 72p on top of standard postage costs for every package under the new "parcel collect" service. Pre-paid return items will cost 60p per item. - Guardian

Waitrose and the Co-op are cutting prices on hundreds of essential goods this week as supermarkets prepare to battle it out for customers ahead of a budget Christmas season. On Wednesday, Waitrose is lowering the prices of more than 200 of its basic own-label products, including beef mince, tea and washing-up-liquid, by an average of more than 15%. - Guardian

Concerns have been raised about the strength of the government's clampdown on pre-pack administrations after it ordered mandatory independent reviews of sales to connected parties. The organisation that represents insolvency professionals has warned that the new system would be at risk of abuse while the property industry has expressed concerns about "opinion shopping", with buyers trying to find reviewers who will back their plans. - The Times

Poundstretcher has become the latest retailer to lose its auditor after a risk assessment by one of Britain's biggest accounting firms. BDO resigned as auditor of the budget chain after reviewing its client portfolio and assessing the "commercial risk and reward associated with the audit of the company", a letter filed to Companies House this month shows. - The Times

UK airports are losing £83m a week due to Covid-19, according to an industry analysis, as they urged the Government to suspend air duty on passengers and retain VAT-free sales airside. The Airport Operators Association said the Covid-19 pandemic had brought international aviation to a near standstill with a projected loss by the end of the year of £4.3bn for 2020. - Telegraph

US close

Wall Street stocks closed higher on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were making progress in their ongoing stimulus talks.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.40% at 28,308.79, while the S&P 500 was 0.47% firmer at 3,443.12 and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 0.33% stronger at 11,516.49.

The Dow Jones closed 113.37 points higher on Tuesday, reversing some of the losses recorded in the previous session after Pelosi gave Mnuchin just 48 hours to reach a deal on a stimulus package before the 3 November election.

Stimulus talks remained in focus throughout the session, with Tuesday marking the final day of Pelosi's deadline.

"Hopefully by the end of the day, we'll know where we all are," said Pelosi. "But I'm optimistic."

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