SSP Group offers reinvestment plan, Forterra to cut 225 jobs
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 64 points higher on Wednesday, having closed up 0.87% at 6,220.14 on Tuesday.
Stocks to watch
Transport catering firm SSP Group offered a reinvestment plan to investors entitled to a dividend before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic became known in an effort to conserve cash. The company, which runs outlets at airports and train stations, swung to a £34m half year loss from a profit of £53m a year earlier and pulled its interim dividend as international travel collapsed after global lockdowns were imposed.
Forterra said it would cut about 225 jobs and mothball a manufacturing facility because of reduced demand caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The construction materials maker said it would consult employees about closing the facility in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, which makes hollowcore flooring. Group revenue fell 39% in the five months to the end of May from a year earlier. The decline was 86% in April and 62% in May.
C&C Group reported 7.8% growth in net revenue in its final results on Wednesday, to €1.72bn (£1.53bn), while its operating profit was ahead 10.4% at €116.4m. The FTSE 250 hard and soft drinks maker said adjusted diluted earnings per share were 10.5% higher year-on-year for the 12 months ended 29 February at 29.4 euro cents, while basic earnings per share were impacted by exceptional items, coming in at 2.8 cents. It paid an interim dividend of 5.5 cents per share, but said it would not be declaring a final distribution in a bid to conserve cash amid the current Covid-19 crisis.
The UK automotive industry has been in confidential talks with the government over a possible £1.5bn scrappage scheme or “market stimulus package” that it insists should encourage the purchase of diesel and petrol cars on an equal footing with cleaner vehicles. The plans under consideration by industry and government would take £2,500 off the price of a car and put a further 600,000 new vehicles on the road. – Guardian
British retailers struggling during the coronavirus pandemic have cut their prices by the most in a month since 2006, according to industry figures revealing the scale of the economic fallout. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen said shop prices fell by 2.4% in May following a decline of 1.7% in April as people continued to stay away from the high street during lockdown. – Guardian
Travelodge will launch a radical overhaul of its business on Wednesday in a bid to force landlords to swallow rent cuts of more than £140m. The beleaguered hotel firm is hiring accountant Deloitte to oversee a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with creditors, marking the latest twist in an acrimonious battle between Travelodge’s hedge fund shareholders and the owners of its hotel sites. – Telegraph
Urgent action is needed to save firms from the post-Covid debt mountain that will await them when taxpayer support comes to an end, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has warned. Debt doled out to small companies during the crisis should be treated like student loans are, the IoD said, with repayments only taken when businesses have started turning a profit and stretched over a period of time based on earnings. – Telegraph
Households repaid a record £7.4 billion of unsecured debt in April as business borrowing remained near record highs, according to official data that revealed the dramatically different experiences of individuals and companies during lockdown. Consumers paid off £5 billion of credit card debt and £2.4 billion of personal loans over the month, a rate of repayment never seen before, Bank of England figures showed. – The Times
US stocks closed higher on Tuesday as market participants remained optimistic about the reopening of the US economy despite a wave of civil unrest spreading across the country.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.05% at 25,742.65 and the S&P 500 was 0.82% firmer at 3,080.82, while the Nasdaq Composite was 2.02% stronger at 9,608.37.
The Dow Jones closed 267.63 points higher on Tuesday, extending gains recorded on Monday that came after major averages registered their first back-to-back monthly advances since late 2019.
While futures briefly fell after Donald Trump threatened to deploy the US military to silence protesters if states and cities failed to do so, investors seemingly shrugged off their concerns at the opening bell and continued to focus on the reopening of the nation's economy.
Heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing were also in focus as China requested state-owned companies to cease purchases of soybeans and pork from the US after the President said the White House would seek to revoke Hong Kong's favoured trade status due to a new security law passed by the Chinese parliament.
However, a report that Chinese companies had purchased at least three cargo loads of US soybeans boosted sentiment later on.