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FTSE and pound gain ground as Bitcoin rebounds

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 19/05/2021 Louise Moon, Morgan Meaker
Bei-Er Bao sitting on a couch: A university student, a member of a club studying cryptocurrencies, attends a meeting at a university in Seoul - KIM HONG-JI /Reuters © KIM HONG-JI /Reuters A university student, a member of a club studying cryptocurrencies, attends a meeting at a university in Seoul - KIM HONG-JI /Reuters

Future shares surged to their highest level since November 2000 – four months after it listed, during the dotcom boom – as strong results prompted analysts to raise their forecasts.

On Wednesday the magazine publisher behind Country Life brushed aside Covid advertising pressures to more than double profits to £57m after sales rose 89pc to £273m for the six months to March. Berenberg analyst Edward James yesterday described the performance as “exceptional” and raised his target price from £26.50 to £31.40 on the expectation of further growth. Deutsche Bank also raised its price target on the stock.

Shares rose 254p, or almost 10pc, to £29.04, pushing it to the top of the FTSE 250 risers. The performance helped lift the mid-cap index into the green, recording a 157 point gain to 22,392.

St Modwen Properties climbed 11p to 545p, joining Future on the risers’ board, after the property group agreed to a £1.2bn takeover offer from the US private equity giant Blackstone worth 542p a share.

At the opposite end of the scale was Trainline, which slumped to the bottom of the index with losses of 99.4p to 328.6p – its lowest level since November. The biggest one-day fall was sparked by the Government announcing plans to launch a state-backed ticketing platform as part of a wider overhaul of the railways.

London’s markets rebounded on Thursday, eventually setting aside concerns on Wednesday over cryptocurrency volatility and inflation despite a choppy start to trading. Having fallen back below the 7,000 mark, the FTSE 100 added 69.5 points to close at 7,019.7.

“By lunchtime optimism was in the driving seat again, partly fuelled by a rally in Bitcoin and given an afternoon shove by US markets responding nicely to better-than-expected jobs news,” said AJ Bell’s Danni Hewson.

Meanwhile, sterling rose against the dollar as it benefited from optimism on the strongest factory orders since late 2018. The pound rose 0.2pc to $1.418 and was up 0.15pc against the euro at €1.160.

The optimism extended to industrial stocks, with the wider industrial index adding 2.4pc to help lift blue chips.

Separately, the price of oil slipped for the third consecutive day amid speculation that sanctions could be eased against Iran, resulting in an increase in oil supply from the region as well as over the continued impact of the coronavirus on demand.


Video: What is Bitcoin's value? (dw.com)

Brent crude decreased 2.3pc to settle at $65.11 a barrel after struggling to sustain the $70 level it briefly topped earlier this week.

Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and BP, however, rose by 5.4p to £13.30 and 2p to 310.3p respectively. Both were among the biggest fallers in the previous session.

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05:27 PM

Wrapping up

That is all from us today - here are some of our top stories:

Thanks for joining and see you again in the morning!

05:02 PM

Oatly soars on market debut

Oatly © Provided by The Telegraph Oatly

Swedish plant-based food and drink maker Oatly - which produces alternatives to dairy products using oats - has soared in its market debut today in New York, under the ticker OTLY.

Shares opened at $22.12, in a 30pc jump from their $17 listing price, which was at the top of expectations. It said investors sold more than 84m American depositary share, raising over $1.4bn.

A price of $22.12 values Oatly at about $13.1bn. 

Susannah Streeter from Hargreaves Lansdown comments:

"Investors swallowed what could be considered a frothy price tag, confident that the company will be able to capitalise on the growing demand for plant based products.

"Oatly, based in Malmo Sweden boasts a quarter of a century experience in delivering milk free goods, so it has significant first mover advantage. With net zero ambitions being embraced not just by governments but armies of consumers, the potential in the plant based drinks and food market is huge".

She adds: "More shoppers seem to want an alternative to soya milk, and oat milk is revered for being high in fibre and vitamins, although it has higher levels of calories and carbohydrates compared to plant based milk alternatives.

"However, there is now stiff competition in the market, with plenty of big, established food players getting in on the act. Nestle targets shoppers with its Nescafe gold alternative lattes, offering almond, oat and coconut options as well as a milk made from peas.

"As demand for alternative milk products heats up, Oatly may well find some of the cream is licked off its share price, unless it can keep rolling out fresh product lines to keep its growing customer base loyal.’’

04:48 PM

Tencent surges despite China's crackdown on tech giants

Ma Huateng wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Tencent © Provided by The Telegraph Tencent

Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent surged past expectations with a 65pc rise in profits, despite a growing crackdown by China’s regulators on its star technology companies.

My colleague Matthew Field has more:

The company reported profits of $7.4bn for the first three months of the year, while revenue increased around 25pc to just under $21bn.

Tencent is the owner of WeChat, the most popular Chinese social network, and the world’s biggest games publisher by revenues. It owns stakes in dozens of Western technology companies, including Fortnite owner Epic Games and UK DNA mapping start-up Oxford Nanopore. It also has substantial investments in the music industry with stakes in Universal Music and Spotify.

But at home, Tencent is facing pressure from Chinese competition regulators, who have threatened to fine the technology company and could force it to sell some of its assets, according to Reuters.

Tencent has also been hit by China’s aggressive stance on video games, which has included freezes approvals on new games between 2018 and 2019 and censorship of published titles. Its shares trading in Hong Kong remained flat on its results. They are up 6pc so far this year.

04:30 PM

A positive end to a choppy day

The FTSE 100 ended up 1pc today, above the 7,000 marker, after a choppy morning. The FTSE 250 also added 0.7pc.

AJ Bell's Danni Hewson comments on the day's movements with a bit more detail:

“It’s been a bumpy day for the London markets which couldn’t make up their minds initially if they were going to shake off yesterday’s lows or not. By lunchtime optimism was in the driving seat again, partly fuelled by a rally in Bitcoin and given an afternoon shove by US markets responding nicely to better-than-expected jobs news. The FTSE 100 ended the day comfortably back above the 7,000 mark at 7,019.

“Consumer demand will be mulled over on Friday as the UK’s Office for National Statistics releases its latest retail update. April saw non-essential shops re-open and the figures will give some insight into how much pent up demand is out there and whether shoppers can be tempted away from their tablets and back into bricks and mortar stores.”

04:19 PM

Purplebricks to repay furlough cash

a man sitting on a sofa: Purplebricks © Provided by The Telegraph Purplebricks

Another company (see post re Marshalls at 9:10am) has decided to repay money it received as a furlough grant at the beginning of the pandemic.

My colleague Ben Gartside has more:

Estate agent Purplebricks received £1m in funds from HMRC, to subsidise workers who could have been made redundant.

Chief Executive  Vic Darvey said the board had always intended to pay the money back, and that he hoped it would be used to help fund the NHS.

Mr Darvey said: “We were one of the sectors to benefit from the Government changes around stamp duty, which underpinned a healthy and buoyant housing market.

“The decision to repay was inline with our values, and we thought the money could be better spent on things like the NHS”.

Purplebricks also announced that total instructions were up 12pc on a year before, with the company expecting to meet market expectations at it’s full year results in July. Mr Darvey said the housing market was in recovery following last years uncertainty and that growth would continue as Coronavirus restrictions eased.

04:04 PM

LSEG warns Reuters that paywall breaches terms of Refinitiv takeover

London Stock Exchange Group © Provided by The Telegraph London Stock Exchange Group

The London Stock Exchange Group has warned Reuters that the media company's plans for a new paywall breaches the terms of its $27bn (£19bn) takeover of market data provider Refinitiv.

My colleague Simon Foy has more:

In a letter to Reuters dated May 13, executives at LSE and Refinitiv said the plan was “not permitted” under the 2018 agreement.

David Craig, Refinitiv’s boss, and Andrea Stone, chief customer proposition officer at LSE, said requiring readers to pay for Reuters content “would cause Refinitiv significant loss and material and irreparable harm”.

The news agency announced last month that it was moving to a subscription model for its website by charging $35 (£25) a month for access, the same as rival Bloomberg.

The letter, which was first reported by Barron’s, requested “a prompt meeting to facilitate a resolution” between the sides, adding that Refinitiv has the right to take action permitted under the terms of its news agreement with Reuters.

In a joint statement, spokesmen for LSE and Thomson Reuters said: "We have a long standing and valued partnership. Just as with any commercial agreement, there are ongoing and private discussions about our business approach and products. The foundation of our partnership is strong and we will continue to work together to deliver for all of our customers."

03:43 PM

FTSE rebounds above 7,000

The FTSE rose 1pc this afternoon, breaking above 7,000, with investors comforted by brighter economic outlooks and easing coronavirus concerns. 

03:33 PM

Landlords braced for tax fines as 30-day rule catches out one in three 

One in three people who sold a second home last year fell foul of stringent new tax rules, reports my colleague Harry Brennan

He writes: 

As of April 2020, landlords and others selling a second home must declare and pay any capital gains tax due within 30 days. This newspaper revealed last month how thousands of landlords had been hit with fines for missing the new one-month window.

A damning report from the Government’s own tax adviser, the Office of Tax Simplification, has now shone a light on the true scale of the problem.

Some 51,300 CGT tax returns were filed between April 2020 and January of this year. Two thirds – 34,500 – were on time. The remainder – 16,800 – were late. 

The OTS said the large numbers tripped up by the new requirements were a “cause for concern” and said the 30-day window was “ambitious”. It added it was virtually impossible for normal taxpayers to calculate their bills in such a short space of time, resulting in some simply guessing what they had to pay. It said others may not be aware of the rule change at all. 

Read his full story here

03:26 PM

ITV warns over cyber threat 

The chairman of ITV has warned that cyber warfare could plunge the nation into an information blackout without safeguards for the future of terrestrial television, reports Ben Woods.

Sir Peter Bazalgette fears a permanent switch from TV masts to broadcasting over broadband could stop news and government messages reaching the public if a cyber attack brought down the internet. 

He pointed to the ransomware attack earlier this month that temporarily shut down the transfer of fuel along America's Colonial Pipeline as evidence of the risks nation's face. 

He urged ministers to protect terrestrial TV irrespective of the boom in streaming services as a means of "public resilience".

Speaking at the Freeview Outside the Box conference, Sir Peter said: "If we go to internet distribution only, and the internet is one day compromised - either in a cyber attack or some kind of extra terrestrial war going on with satellites being shot out of space - we would need another form of distribution. 

"Of course that distribution is what Freeview uses: digital terrestrial TV (DTT). One other means of distributing TV should be kept maintained in the future as a matter of national resilience."

British broadcasters ultimately want the laws updated to prevent them being squeezed off streaming menus, or forced into costly agreements for prominence, as tech manufacturers become the gatekeepers of television. 

03:09 PM

Robinhood to give US users access to IPOs

Trading app Robinhood said today it is starting to roll out a platform that will allow users to buy into initial public offerings as well as Wall Street funds, a step in its quest to "democratize" finance.

The US company made the decision to postpone its UK launch indefinitely in 2020, in the wake of several technical issues and concerns about whether the app encourages people to take uninformed financial risks.

02:52 PM

GlaxoSmithKline exits US drugmaker in £277m deal

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has sold its entire stake in Innoviva back to the US company for around £277m.

The company is simplifying operations before it splits into two businesses, one focused on over the counter products and another for prescription drugs and vaccines. More details about the split are expected in June. 

02:42 PM

Virgin Galactic shares surge ahead of test flight on Saturday 

a plane sitting on top of a runway: SpaceShipTwo Unity completes a runway landing at Spaceport America, in New Mexico on Friday, May 1, 2020 - Virgin Galactic  © Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Unity completes a runway landing at Spaceport America, in New Mexico on Friday, May 1, 2020 - Virgin Galactic 

Shares in Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic have surged up to 20pc this morning in Neew York after the space travel company said its next test flight for SpaceShipTwo Unity will take place on Saturday, depending on weather and technical checks. 

Around 600 hopeful space tourists have waited more than a decade, paying up to $250,000 (£177,000) per ticket, to travel on a Virgin Galactic flight.

But the company, which started selling tickets a year after it launched in 2004, has faced repeated setbacks and delays. Branson himself is due to take a test flight himself this year but the date for this trip was pushed back in February. 

02:23 PM

'Pandemic mindset' lingers in leading economies, says survey

a man talking on a cell phone: A guest has his temperature checked as he arrives at the Shangri-la Hotel at The Shard as it re-opens to the public  - Getty Images Europe /Leon Neal  © Getty Images Europe /Leon Neal A guest has his temperature checked as he arrives at the Shangri-la Hotel at The Shard as it re-opens to the public  - Getty Images Europe /Leon Neal 

People living in the world's leading economies, including Britain, are nervous about returning to pre-virus habits in a trend a new survey has dubbed "pandemic mindset". 

A mid-year update of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which for two decades has polled thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, claimed 65pc of people described themselves as being "still in a pandemic mindset".

That meant that only 16pc felt safe flying commercial airlines, 23pc staying in hotels and 28pc dining indoors in restaurants. In each case, those tallies rose only incrementally among those who had been fully vaccinated.

The survey of 16,800 people in 14 territories - Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States - was conducted between April 30 and May 11.

02:16 PM

Pound and FTSE lift as Bitcoin's revival gains pace

The FTSE 100 is up 0.4pc and the pound lifted 0.29pc against the dollar, as Bitcoin clawed back its losses from yesterday. 

01:58 PM

Wall Street in green after US jobless claims

a traffic light and street sign in front of a building: Wall Street stocks have been buoyed by a further sign the US jobs crisis is easing - iStockphoto  © iStockphoto Wall Street stocks have been buoyed by a further sign the US jobs crisis is easing - iStockphoto 

US markets have opened higher after fresh data showing the number of US jobless claims fell to a new pandemic low last week.

The Nasdaq jumped 1pc while the S&P 500 rose 0.55pc higher, with the Dow up 0.2pc shortly before 3pm.

US jobless claims fell to 444,000 (seasonally adjusted) for the week to May 15, 34,000 lower than the previous week's revised figure, which until today had marked the lowest level since March 2020 when coronavirus struck.

"The message from the data remains one of a gradual decline in layoffs, although the level is still elevated," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said.

"With reopening ramping up and businesses less constrained by restrictions, filings should ease further as the economy moves closer to normal capacity."

The latest jobs report follows on hot on the heels of fears that quickly rising inflation will persuade central banks to hit the brakes on stimulus to support the world's economic recovery. Minutes from a recent Federal Reserve meeting suggested some officials at the US central bank were open to the idea of scaling back assistance in future meetings. 

“While inflation has been the star of the show, keep in mind that the Fed’s mandate is two-fold—with employment as the other side,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial. “The jobless claims read shows once again that that we’re heading in the right direction, but we’re a ways away from where we were pre-pandemic.”

01:41 PM

Bitcoin hits $42k, Dogecoin recovers after Musk tweet

graphical user interface, website: Dogecoin is based on a popular meme but has grown in value amid support from Elon Musk - Gabby Jones/Bloomberg © Gabby Jones/Bloomberg Dogecoin is based on a popular meme but has grown in value amid support from Elon Musk - Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Bitcoin is now up to about $42,000 as crypto traders 'buy the dip'.

Cryptocurrencies crashed yesterday in response to a Chinese crackdown on financial firms accepting the cashless tokens, leaving Bitcoin as low as $30,000 at one point and an overall fall of 14pc. It typically volatile fashion Bitcoin has bounced back today with a 23.9pc jump to $42,324 as analysts credited so-called dip buyers with propping it back up.

Traders took confidence from crypto backers such as ARK Invest boss Cathie Wood, who told Bloomberg she stood by her forecast that Bitcoin will one day hit $500,000.

Other crypto supporters backed her up. "People consider this as a 'buy the dip' moment, and many consider this as 'the last chance to buy bitcoin cheap'," said Ruud Feltkamp, chief executive at crypto trading bot Cryptohopper. "The next few months will show if the bull market will continue or if it's the start of the end of its run."

Meanwhile Tesla boss Elon Musk helped send Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency based on a joke, up almost 20pc by tweeting about it this afternoon.

However, analysts warned the crypto rout was not necessarily over.

"It's too early to say if the rebound we've seen off the lows in crypto has legs," said Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne.

"I question if we will get a chance to catch our breath or is there more volatility in store?"

 

01:23 PM

Mood music improves across Europe

a woman standing in front of a building: The FTSE 100 rose almost half a per cent in afternoon trading - FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock  © FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock The FTSE 100 rose almost half a per cent in afternoon trading - FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 

The FTSE 100 remained in the green heading into afternoon trading, up almost 0.5pc after a rough morning of trading and a fall of 1.2pc yesterday.

Europe also posted rises - Germany's Dax rose 0.94pc while France's CAC jumped 0.86pc and the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 climbed 0.77pc higher.

In London, Experian led risers with a 3.9pc increase for the day, followed by Primark owner Associated British Foods and support services giant DCC, up 2.92pc and 2.45pc respectively.

But miners Antofagasta and Fresnillo both posted drops of over 2pc, while Tesco led fallers with a decline of 2.7pc.

"The more upbeat tone in Europe comes as authorities across the region are easing pandemic restrictions due to a falling number of Covid cases and rising vaccine rates," said Oanda analyst Sophie Griffiths.

"ECB Governor Christine Lagarde noted the improving Covid picture in Europe while insisting that monetary and fiscal support should not be withdrawn too soon."

12:56 PM

Money round-up

Here's the best stories from The Telegraph's money team today: 

12:41 PM

US weekly jobless claims drop below economists' estimates

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and below economists' estimates of 452,000. 

In a sign the job market is strengthening as consumers start spending again and business restrictions ease, today's Labor Department report showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 478,000 a week earlier.

The number of weekly jobless claims, considered a rough measure of the pace of layoffs, has declined steadily since the year began.

However, the level of claims remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels which signals the labour market is still far from a full recovery.

12:34 PM

Australian beef producer predicts ten fold increase in exports under UK free-trade deal

Australia's biggest beef exporter said it planned to dramatically increase UK sales if the two countries strike a zero-tariff, zero quota trade deal. 

"In the event of a free trade deal that removes tariffs and quotas we could see exports double or tripe," said Hugh Killen, chief executive of the Australian Agricultural Company, in an interview with the Financial Times.

"In fact, given exports are so small now it's possible they could even increase tenfold."

The deal, however, is controversial. The UK's National Farmers' Union has warned it risks throwing British farmers "under the bus". 

My colleague Lucy Fisher reported on the furious row erupting in Cabinet over the deal earlier this week. Read it here

12:13 PM

Warhammer maker shares £12m bonus between staff

Details of figures at a Games Workshop store  - Matthew Lloyd /Getty Images Contributor  © Matthew Lloyd /Getty Images Contributor Details of figures at a Games Workshop store  - Matthew Lloyd /Getty Images Contributor 

Games Workshop unveiled a £12m share bonus for staff after sales soared at the miniature wargames maker during lockdown, reports Sam Hall. 

The bonus is £10m more than the one issued during the previous financial year and will be shared equally between each member of staff. 

The maker of the Warhammer series of tabletop games announced that sales had increased by 30pc to “not less than” £350m for the year to 30 May 2021. Profit before tax also increased to £150m from £89m in the previous year. 

The profit figures included licensing royalties which were estimated to be approximately £15m. 

Games Workshop, based in Nottingham, said the share bonuses were made "in recognition of our staff's contribution to these results".

It also announced that it would deliver a dividend of 50p per share, to be paid on 5 July, taking its total dividends for the year to 235p per share, up from 145p per share during the previous year. 

Despite being forced to close or restrict the majority of its 529 physical stores at numerous points during the pandemic, the company offset a fall in retail income by increasing sales on its online platforms by 88pc to £46m, while wholesale trade sales also went up by 34pc to reach £104.9m. 

11:56 AM

Bitcoin claws back to $40,000 after crash

Bitcoin has clawed its way back above the $40,000 benchmark in the past hour. But according to Deutsche Bank, that does not mean investors can expect the coin's volatility to subside any time soon. 

My colleague, James Cook, reports: 

Bitcoin will remain “ultra-volatile” because of its “limited tradeability,” Deutsche Bank has warned in a note published today.

“A few additional large purchases or market exits could significantly impact the supply-demand equilibrium,” the bank said, highlighting the issue of significant swings in Bitcoin’s value that many fear will make it unusable for widespread use in transactions.

The price of Bitcoin crashed as much as 28pc earlier this week after Chinese authorities warned financial institutions not to work with cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin has lost over a third of its value since hitting a record high of almost $65,000 (£46,000) in April, and has erased all the gains notched up since February when Elon Musk said Tesla would accept it as payment.

“The root causes of Bitcoin’s volatility include small tactical asset allocations and the entries and exits of large asset managers,” Deutsche Bank wrote.

11:50 AM

US stock futures decline 

US stock futures are down in premarket trading today, in anticipation of new jobless claims data expected to provide more hints about the labour market's recovery. 

Futures tied to the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were down 0.4pc, pointing to a fourth consecutive day of declines ahead. The tech heavy Nasdaq was also down 0.3pc. 

11:29 AM

ONS data: Glimmers of an economy coming back to life

The number of workers on furlough has fallen by half since January as businesses bring back staff to join the reopening of the economy, reports Tim Wallace

Last week 10pc of companies’ workers were furloughed, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That is down from a third lockdown peak of 20pc in late January.

It indicates the economy is coming back to life, though the number on the Job Retention Scheme is not yet down to the low point of 7.7pc seen in October, before the second lockdown.

Businesses however are not yet back to life as normal. The ONS found 83pc of businesses are currently trading. This is not yet back to levels seen in December or October.

However another 5pc say they intend to reopen in the next fortnight, which would take the share trading up to a new high for the pandemic era.

Some industries are almost back to normal. More than 96pc of those classed as “other services businesses” - a category which includes consumer-facing firms such as hairdressers - are now trading.

However more than one-third of hospitality businesses were still temporarily closed in the fortnight to 16 May, as the sector struggles to get back to normal.

The reopening of indoor dining in England, Scotland and Wales on 17 May boosted customer levels. In the week up to and including that day, the number of seated diners rose to almost three-quarters of usual levels, according to OpenTable.

There are major differences by region, however, with London’s pubs and restaurants still down below half their 2019 level and Manchester up at almost one-quarter above numbers seen two years ago.

Overall credit and debit card spending remains a few percentage points below its pre-Covid levels, according to data from the CHAPS payment system, with social spending around one-fifth below old levels.

Footfall on high streets is 39pc below pre-Covid levels, shopping centres are down 29pc and retail parks down 5pc, according to SPringboard.

Despite the lukewarm rebound, there are signs businesses are planning for more growth. There are now more advertised job vacancies than there were before the pandemic, with Adzuna finding positions running at 114pc of their February 2020 level.

11:11 AM

Oil drops as Irans says deal to end sanctions reached

Hassan Rouhani wearing a hat: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  - Anadolu Agency  © Anadolu Agency Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  - Anadolu Agency 

Brent crude has extended its declines after Iran’s president said the broad outline of a deal to end sanctions on its oil had been reached.

President Hassan Rouhani said the deal would see oil, shipping, insurance and central bank sanctions lifted although he noted there were still some issues to be discussed.

His remarks echoed those made by European Union officials yesterday.

Futures in London lost 1.8pc, after slumping 3pc yesterday. 

10:49 AM

UK Manufacturing output grows at fastest rate since 2018

British manufacturing output in May grew at fastest rate since 2018, according to the CBI's monthly industrial trends survey.

Output grew in 12 of 17 sub-sectors, with growth driven by chemicals, electronic engineering and metal products, according to the CBI. 

Total order books were reported to be "above normal" for the first time since February 2019 while export order books were largely unchanged. 

However manufacturers also reported the weakest stock adequacy since July 2017, likely reflecting supply chain pressures and higher commodity prices. 

Price growth is expected to pick up rapidly in the coming quarter, the CBI said, with expectations at their strongest since January 2018. 

Anna Leach, CBI Deputy Chief Economist, said: 

Manufacturing activity rebounded this month, with strong improvements seen across total order books and output volumes. But firms are still feeling the chill as supply shortages fuel cost pressures, reflected in expectations for strong output price inflation in the coming quarter. 

10:43 AM

FTSE 100 wobbles

The FTSE 100 is having a choppy day of trading today, faltering between the red and green after yesterday's cryptocurrency crash and hints of inflation. 

After rising on opening, the index then dropped into the red but is now up 0.015pc. 

The FTSE 250 is up 0.08pc. 

10:30 AM

Dip-buyer and celebrity backers help Bitcoin recover losses

Bitcoin is creeping back towards $40,000 as dip-buyers and celebrity backers help the cryptocurrency recover from yesterday's sell off where the price plunged up to 30pc. 

Prominent crypto backers including Ark Invest's Cathie Wood and Tesla's Elon Musk both declared their support for the coin yesterday despite the crash.

Wood said in a Bloomberg interview she was still sticking to her forecast that the crytpocurrency would hit $500,000. On Twitter, Musk used emojis to reiterate Tesla was holding on to its bitcoin investments.

Bitcoin is currently at $39,860. 

10:14 AM

Pub owner Young's expects to bounce-back by June

text: A shuttered Young's pub in London in June last year - SIMON NEWMAN /Reuters © SIMON NEWMAN /Reuters A shuttered Young's pub in London in June last year - SIMON NEWMAN /Reuters

Pub owner Young's said it expects business to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of June, after experiencing sales that  were "better than planned" when the business restarted outdoor trading at 144 pubs. 

The company, which runs 273 pubs across the UK, said sales over the past five weeks have been "encouraging" and were at around 85pc of previous levels despite bad weather and virus restrictions.

However, Young's also revealed it plunged to a £45.2m pre-tax loss for the year to March after the heavy impact of the enforced closures. Revenues for the period also plummeted to £90.6m from £311.6m for the previous year.

It said it has decided it will not pay out a dividend for the year due to the significant loss.

The group said that an additional £88.4 million in financing has shored up its balance sheet, and allowed it to invest £17 million into its estate.

It came as new spending data from Barclaycard revealed that hospitality venues have seen a 43pc increase in revenues week on week for the period since Monday.

09:55 AM

Virgin Media-O2 merger

My colleague Ben Woods has more on the £31bn merger of Virgin Media and O2, which was backed by the competition watchdog earlier this morning.

He writes: 

The deal is now poised to be completed by June 1, creating a cable and mobile operator with £11bn of sales that can challenge industry leader BT. 

The tie-up of O2, owned by Spain’s Telefonica, and Virgin Media, the broadband provider controlled by Liberty Global, will create a telecoms giant with 46m customers. 

In a joint statement, Liberty Global boss Mike Fries and Telefonica chief executive José Maria Alvarez-Pallete said it was a "watershed moment" for the UK telecoms industry. 

They said the merger will create "real choice where it hasn't existed before" through investment in fibre broadband and faster 5G mobile connectivity. 

Competitors feared the lines leased by Virgin to support mobile operator's networks could become more expensive, provide a poorer service, or be withdrawn from the market. Similar concerns were also raised over the impact on O2, the UK's biggest mobile operator that wholesales its network capacity to Sky Mobile and Lycamobile. 

The CMA has dismissed those fears, however, saying O2 would have to keep its wholesale service competitive as a number of companies provide similar services. 

09:41 AM

Home gin and tonics spur Fever Tree's off trade sales

a man and a woman sitting at a table: Fever Tree co-founders Tim Warrillow and Charles Rolls pictured in 2016 - Neil Hall/Reuters © Neil Hall/Reuters Fever Tree co-founders Tim Warrillow and Charles Rolls pictured in 2016 - Neil Hall/Reuters

Tonic maker Fever Tree reports off trade sales in shops and supermarkets were 10pc higher in UK for the 13 weeks to April compared to last year, due to an increase of consumers mixing their own drinks at home. 

The British brand experienced particularly strong off trade in the US, with sales rising 38.2pc in the 12 weeks to 27th March.

The company said it had been affected by coronavirus restrictions and the increasing cost pressures on logistics but as long as pandemic rules continue to be relaxed, it expects to trade in line with full year expectations. 

09:27 AM

Oil markets rattled by prospect of returning Iranian output

Brent oil extended its declines as investors assessed prospects for a boost in Iranian supply and the continued impact of the coronavirus on demand. 

Bloomberg has more details: 

Futures in London lost 1.7pc, after slumping 3pc on Wednesday. A top European Union official said the U.S. and Iran are close to reviving a nuclear deal, which would allow the OPEC producer to increase oil flows. That’s being reflected in Brent’s prompt timespread, with its backwardation narrowing in a sign that market tightness may be easing.

While Brent briefly topped $70 a barrel earlier in the week, it has struggled to sustain that move. The market has been rattled by the prospects of returning Iranian output -- though a timeline for a deal is unclear.

There’s also been a selloff in global markets, while the coronavirus continues to impinge on Indian demand, trimming sales of gasoline and diesel by as much as 20pc for top refiner Indian Oil Corp.

“Revival of Iranian oil exports takes a lot of attention currently,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB AB. “A revival of the Iranian JCPOA nuclear deal seems highly likely. The key question is when.”

09:18 AM

Future shares surge this week

Future shares are leading the FTSE 250 for gains today, up 8pc after the UK publisher reported record revenues yesterday of £273m. 

09:08 AM

Lockdown's DIY enthusiasts drive B&Q sales up 82pc

a man standing in front of a building: A custumer wearing a protective face mask pushes a shopping trolley outside a B&Q DIY store - JOHN SIBLEY /Reuters © JOHN SIBLEY /Reuters A custumer wearing a protective face mask pushes a shopping trolley outside a B&Q DIY store - JOHN SIBLEY /Reuters

B&Q owner Kingfisher raised its first-half profit outlook this morning, after reporting £3.4bn in sales for this year's first quarter.

The B&Q chain saw like-for-like sales rocket 81.9pc higher in the three months to April 30 as bored Britons occupied themselves with DIY during lockdown. 

Sales for the whole group's first quarter soared 61.9pc, with e-commerce growth also up 250pc over the past two years. 

The company however flagged suppliers have faced challenges keeping up wtih high order levels, a problem that was exacerbated by the Suez Canal blockage. Supply chain issues are expected to continue for the next six months, the group said. 

08:51 AM

FTSE up 0.07pc

The FTSE 100 is trading almost flat, after a nervous session on Wall Street yesterday followed a cryptocurrency price crash and minutes from the US Federal Reserve's April meeting hinted at pulling back central bank support. 

"Today's move is quite indicative of an advanced carry trade in the sense every setback is seen as an opportunity," said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management, told Reuters.

"Something is in disequilibrium, it's building up and the market is in a long-term overshoot. Fear of inflation will have an impact on European equities, but the correction will be much more shallow and not last very long as it's not so expensive relative to the United States."

The FTSE 100 has gained about 7.9pc year-to-date but lately, the index has been trading in a tight range as higher inflation has ignited fears about central banks pulling back support. 

08:28 AM

Trainline's shares crash, down 28pc

Trainline's share price crashed in early trading after ministers revealed plans for a rival ticketing app to be set up by the Government, reports Oliver Gill

Commuters will be able to buy tickets on a "one-stop shop" website run by a new state-owned body called Great British Railways. It will also provide passengers an easier way to access refunds for disrupted journeys.

Trainline shares plunged 22pc in early trade to 329.80p as investors absorbed the implications of the move. 

Read his full story here

08:18 AM

Virgin Media and O2 merger gets green light

The £31bn merger of Virgin Media and O2 has been provisionally cleared by Britain's competition watchdog, paving the way for a new telecoms heavyweight to challenge BT. 

Martin Coleman, CMA Panel Inquiry Chair, said today: 

O2 and Virgin are important suppliers of services to other companies who serve millions of consumers. It was important to make sure that this merger would not leave these people worse off. That’s why we conducted an in-depth investigation.

After looking closely at the deal, we are reassured that competition amongst mobile communications providers will remain strong and it is therefore unlikely that the merger would lead to higher prices or lower quality services.

08:10 AM

Marshall Motor Group pledges to pay back government Covid support 

a man wearing a suit and tie: Marshall Motor boss Daksh Gupta - Heathcliff O'Malley /Telegraph © Heathcliff O'Malley /Telegraph Marshall Motor boss Daksh Gupta - Heathcliff O'Malley /Telegraph

Car dealer Marshall Motor Group has committed to repaying furlough cash and retail grants it received this year as it strong demand for vehicles bolster its performance, reports Alan Tovey

The business - one of the UK’s largest dealer networks with 113 showrooms - said it would return the £2.6m of furlough payments received in 2021 and the £1.4m of other relief which had to be claimed from the government.

Business rates relief of about £5m and which was given to all retail operations will not be repaid.

The announcement came in an update ahead of the Marshall’s AGM today which painted a bright outlook for the business, despite the battering the car industry has taken from lockdowns which shuttered non-essential retailers, such as car dealers.

Daksh Gupta, chief executive, said: “After such significant support from the government it would be inappropriate not to do this as we benefit from tailwinds at the moment.

“We have the opportunity to do the right thing even when we don’t have to and others aren’t.

“We want to reinstate our dividend as soon as possible and without acting this way it would be inappropriate.”

Marshall said that even after the repayments the company is targeting an underlying profit for this year of “not less than” the £22.1m achieved in 2019’s result, a period unaffected by the pandemic.

07:57 AM

'A number of uncertainties' ahead for Royal Mail

An employee places parcels for delivery into a van at the Royal Mail Plc sorting office in Chelmsford, UK - Chris Ratcliffe /Bloomberg  © Chris Ratcliffe /Bloomberg An employee places parcels for delivery into a van at the Royal Mail Plc sorting office in Chelmsford, UK - Chris Ratcliffe /Bloomberg 

Royal Mail declined to offer a forecast or the current year today due to "a number of uncertainties that could significantly influence volumes and cost",according to Keith Williams, non-executive chair. 

That uncertainty caused shares to drop 1.5pc today, despite reporting a 116pc surge in adjusted operating profit to £702m and a 17pc jump in revenue, up to £12.6bn. 

07:49 AM

Experian shares up almost 4pc

Dublin based Experian is leading the FTSE 100 for gains this morning, up 3.9pc after the credit reporting company reported a 14pc rise in profit to $1.08bn yesterday for the year ending in March. 

07:28 AM

Uncapped raises £56m for start-up lending 

A start-up hoping to shake up venture funding by offering rapid loans to early stage companies has raised $80m (£56m) to expand its team, which works entirely from home, reports Matthew Field

Uncapped, founded in 2019 by Piotr Pisarz and Asher Ismail, offers business loans of between £10,000 and £5m to entrepreneurs with a fixed repayment as an alternative to venture capital firms and bank lending.

The debt and equity investment, led by European fund Lakestar, brings its total raised to $120m.

Customers apply for Uncapped’s loans online, which come with a fixed repayment fee of 6pc of the loan. Customers pay back based on a percentage of their sales over time. The funding also helps start-ups avoid giving away equity early on to fund their business. 

Mr Pisarz said many of the start-ups that had turned to them over the last year were ones that had been rejected by the Government’s CBILs loans scheme.

“Most of our clients were not eligible for CBILs funding,” he says, “99pc of our capital was given away during pandemic times. We have been moulded by it.”

The company currently has 35 staff and is planning to expand to 100 by the end of the year. It plans for all these staff to work remotely, and the company has been entirely remote during the pandemic. Mr Pisarz and Mr Ismail have not met in person in nine months.

07:19 AM

FTSE rises on opening 

The FTSE 100 has lifted 0.3pc on opening, following a jittery day of losses yesterday following inflation concerns that dragged the index below 7,000. 

It is currently trading at 6,977 points. 

The FTSE 250 is also up 0.3pc, trading at 22,305 points. 

07:16 AM

EasyJet expects slow summer start after £701m loss

a group of people standing around a plane: Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal at Gatwick Airport after the ban on international leisure travel for people in England was lifted - Gareth Fuller /PA © Gareth Fuller /PA Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal at Gatwick Airport after the ban on international leisure travel for people in England was lifted - Gareth Fuller /PA

EasyJet is expecting a slow start to the summer season, with the airline forecasting to fly only 15pc of its capacity in Q3 of 2021, compared to 2019. 

In its half year reports, the company reported a loss of £701m for for the six months ending 31 March, as a result of passenger numbers falling  89.4pc compared to the first six months of 2020. Total revenue also dropped 90pc in the same period. 

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC, comments on the results: 

For all the talk of pent-up demand the outlook for Q3 doesn’t look much better with the airline saying it only expects to fly around 15pc of its 2019 capacity, with the hope that this would increase from June onwards as the next stage of lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased.

This would equate to three quarters of capacity below 20pc and its unlikely Q4 would be much better as the weather gets colder, which helps explain why EasyJet declined to offer any guidance beyond Q3.

EasyJet has made progress on reducing its costs, which have fallen 59pc to £844m, and slowing its cash burn, but even with the improvements here it's now pretty certain that the airline is heading for its second successive annual loss.

At the beginning of the year there was a great deal of optimism, that with the vaccine program well advanced there might be a semblance of a return to normal as the summer approached. This optimism now looks rather misplaced.  

06:45 AM

Cryptos struggle to recover

Bitcoin regained some ground on Thursday from the previous session's brutal slide to four-month lows but was weighed down by concerns over tighter regulation in China and unease over the extent of leveraged positions in the cryptocurrency world.

Bitcoin, the biggest and most popular cryptocurrency, rose 8.75pc to touch $40,000, after plunging 14pc on Wednesday to its lowest since late January.

Smaller rival ether was up 6.6pc at $2,600 at 0630 GMT, but in extremely volatile trading after its 28pc tumble on Wednesday.

Wednesday's declines in both digital assets were their biggest daily percentage moves in more than a year as investors rushed to exit trades that until recently were heartily outperforming traditional markets such as stocks and bonds.

The latest catalyst was a statement by Chinese financial industry groups on Tuesday banning institutions from offering cryptocurrency registration, trading, clearing, and settlement.

06:32 AM

Bitcoin bounce

Good morning. Bitcoin has bounced around 7pc after plunging 30pc in a broad rout of crytpocurrencies. 

The FTSE 100 is tipped to open higher after a mixed session for Asian shares.

5 things to start your day 

1) Elon Musk jets in to UK as ministers seek site for new car factory: Tesla founder spends two days in the UK, stoking speculation that the electric car company could make vehicles in Britain.

2) 'British Rail' returns as Government tightens its grip on the trains: A publicly owned body will be formed to centralise operations, in the biggest shake-up of the industry in more than a quarter of a century.

3) Call to replace council tax and stamp duty with new property levy: An annual tax amounting to a share of each home’s value would be fairer, according to a new report by think tank Bright Blue.

4) Network Rail set to slash thousands of jobs: Debt-burdened rail body faces spectre of industrial action as it seeks to overhaul working practices and introduce more technology.

5) John Laing falls to KKR for £2bn in latest private equity swoop: Private equity giant wants to tap into the infrastructure company’s access to high-growth markets such renewable energy.

What happened overnight 

Asian markets were mixed in early trade on Thursday. Tokyo ended the morning slightly down, while Hong Kong dropped as it returned from a midweek holiday to play catch-up with Wednesday's global losses. Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei and Manila also fell but there were gains in Sydney, Singapore, Wellington and Jakarta.

Bitcoin stabilised after Wednesday's wild fluctuations that saw it collapse almost a third in one day before recovering most of its losses. At one point the currency rallied more than 8pc to hit $40,000.

Coming up today

Corporate: Royal Mail, National Grid, NBrown, QinetiQ (Full year); IntegraFin Holdings, easyJet (Interim); Kingfisher, Watches of Switzerland, Helios Towers (Trading update)

Economics: Unemployment claims (US); producer price index (Ger); construction output (EU)

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