Businesses across the board generally welcomed the clarity Boris Johnson gave in the roadmap out of lockdown, but also urged that a lot more needs to be done to help ailing sectors.
Industry bodies are urging the Government to focus on continuing to support businesses - via furlough and loan extensions - until restrictions are fully eased.
Among them, the British Chamber of Commerce called for key support schemes to be extended through the summer. The Federation for Small Businesses urged Rishi Sunak to do "whatever it takes" to keep companies afloat until the summer, including bringing more people under support measures and extending business rates relief.
Separately on Monday, the pound slightly extended its world-beating rally, holding above $1.40 after breaking the threshold for the first time since 2018 at the end of last week.
Sterling stood at about $1.407 at the European close, having made bigger gains than any other major currency so far this year.
It shrugged off Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s presentation of a roadmap for Britain’s exit from Covid-19 restrictions, with investors continuing to favour the UK thanks to the fast rollout of vaccines.
ING currency analyst Francesco Pesole said investor positioning around the pound still does not appear “particularly overstretched”, adding there should be a continued build-up in “long” positions on the currency over the coming weeks.
The slight rise in the pound was enough to keep the FTSE 100 just shy of flat as international earners felt forex pressure. But the blue-chip index recovered strongly from an early drop to close almost unchanged.
As has been the trend at several points over recent months, it was the companies that stand to gain the most from reopening that captured the biggest gains. British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines rose 12.4p to 178.1p, buoyed further after taking steps to boost the flag carrier’s liquidity by £2.45bn.
Engine maker Rolls-Royce also rose, closing up 6.8p at 105.5p against a backdrop of reopening hopes and fresh headaches for Boeing that regulators said are related to problems with a rival company’s engines.
Making up the rest of the top five FTSE 100 risers were events group Informa, caterer Compass and Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels.
Insurer Aviva rose 0.3p to 374.8p after Bank of America analysts upgraded the group from “hold” to “buy”, saying its shares were valued “well below” those of its peers. Analyst Blair Stewart said the company’s effort to sell off non-core businesses was making a meaningful difference to its prospects.
Once again, Ocado was left to carry the can amid optimism about a return to normal. The grocery group’s shares fell 158p to £24.01.
Opening-up hopes similarly dictated many of the biggest moves on the FTSE 250. Mitchells & Butlers led risers with a 46.1p jump to 337.5p after confirming plans for a £351m cash call. Shore Capital’s Greg Johnson said the group should be in a strong position to expand once restrictions ease.
Other pub groups also performed well as the PM offered up April 12 as a planned day for outdoor hospitality offerings to resume – JD Wetherspoon rose 102p to £13.38. Other mid-cap winners included Cineworld, easyJet and Wizz Air.
G4S was the FTSE 250’s biggest faller, tumbling 26.4p to 242.6p after suitor Gardaworld refused to raise its takeover bid.
That is all from us, after an eventful afternoon. Here are some of our top stories:
Thank you, as always, for joining. Louis will be back with you in the morning!
BRC: chances are increasing of stores not being able to reopen
Retailers welcomed the additional clarity of being allowed to re-open up to 401,690 non-essential sites on April 12th, but some may never be able to.
My colleague Laura Onita reports:
Stores forced to shut in December will have been closed for at least 16 weeks, longer than the first lockdown last year. The cost of lost sales to non-food stores is now over £22bn and counting.
“Every day that a shop remains closed increases the chances that it will never open again, costing jobs and damaging local communities,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said.
The BRC urged the Government to remain flexible and bring forward the date if the data suggests it is safe to do so as most shops are ready to reopen.
Retailers will miss another crucial shopping event - the Easter bank holiday - after bricks-and-mortar firms closed just days before Christmas, missing out on their most profitable time of the year.They also have to wait another week to see if the Chancellor will extend the business rates holiday and furlough.
“It is imperative that the Government maintains continued financial support,” said Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers in London.
SMMT: "deeply disappointed" showrooms closed until at least April
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has slammed the fact that retail showrooms have to remain closed until at least April.
"[It is] deeply disappointing given these facilities are Covid-secure, large premises with low footfall and able to operate on an appointment-only basis.
“Whilst “click and collect” can continue, this does not replace the showroom experience on which so many retail customers depend, especially in the all-important March plate change month that represents 1 in 5 of annual new car registrations.
"Unfortunately, the continuing decline in retail business will translate into reduced production volumes as well as giving rise to other operational issues."
EASA not following the UK’s ban on Boeing 777
In a break from businesses reactions to Johnson's lockdown roadmap...I bring you updates on how Europe are reacting to the UK's decision to ban Boeing 777s (see Louis' post at 3:10pm).
My colleague Alan Tovey reports:
European aviation safety regulator EASA is not following the UK’s ban on Boeing 777 fitted with the type of engine which exploded on a flight in the US at the weekend.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK is temporarily banning 777s with the Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines from its airspace, adding he was “working closely” with British regulator the Civil Aviation Authority.
However, EASA made no similar announcement, saying “there are no affected European registered aircraft currently in operation” and that affected aircraft authorised to operate into Europe are “currently either stored, or temporarily pulled out from operation”.
Mr Shapp’s announcement this afternoon of the ban is largely moot, as airlines which operate the affected aircraft have already been banned from flying them by their own regulators or had voluntarily withdrawn them from service.
British Property Federation: office opening guidance needed
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation said today's announcement has given great clarity to high street businesses to be able to plan ahead. But, she said, the same needs to be done for offices.
“Office workers underpin our town and city centre ecosystems – many high street businesses, from cafes to gyms, depend on footfall from nearby offices.
"While the future of the office will no doubt include a home-office hybrid for more employees, offices will remain a hub for collaboration, creativity and productivity, and a safe return is vital to recovery.”
London Chamber of Commerce also calls for more support
Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has added to calls for support to continue so businesses can "survive and be the bedrock of our recovery".
“It’s clear that footfall, commuting, business travel, domestic and international tourism will stay suppressed for some months to come. Across the country, but in London particularly, this will bring detrimental economic impact.”
Airlines look forward to detail on how current restrictions can be removed
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents UK-registered carriers, was positive about the announcement that has reassured his sector:
“[The roadmap] will provide much needed reassurance not only to airlines in desperate need of a summer season but families looking to visit friends and family and take a long-awaited holiday, and we know there is enormous pent-up demand for when we can restart operations."
But, he said, detail is needed about what happens next for airlines. Rules around when international travel might resume have been left relatively vague.
The Government's Global Travel Taskforce is due to report recommendations on April 12 to facilitate a return to international travel as soon as possible. It has said there will be no international travel before at least May 17.
Mr Alderslade added:
"We now look forward working with Ministers and as part of the proposed Taskforce on the practical detail of how current restrictions – which are amongst the toughest anywhere in the world – can be removed, and how the sector can be provided with as much advance notice as possible before any restart.
"As we have always said, this must be risk-based and proportionate but based on the overriding assumption that as the vaccine rollout accelerates a phased easing of restrictions is achievable.”
FSB urges continuation of business support
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the "clarity" Johnson's roadmap has provided for small businesses, but stressed the importance for the plan to protect against a fourth wave and any further lockdowns which would be "devastating" for businesses.
At the same time, he said, more support continues to be needed:
“The Chancellor must deliver on the Prime Minister’s “whatever it takes” pledge at next week’s Budget. On one side of the coin we have continued restrictions – on the other, we need corresponding business support.
“Whatever it takes means bringing those overlooked by current support measures into the fold, including suppliers, directors and the newly self-employed. Upwards of a million small business owners and sole traders are currently receiving no direct help whatsoever.
“Extension of business rates reliefs and measures to mitigate the burden of emergency debt will provide small firms with some urgently-needed breathing space as they fight to make it through to the summer.
“Fundamentally, the implementation of, and deadlines for, business support measures need to reflect this road map to avoid forcing the great businesses of tomorrow under before they’ve had a chance to realise their potential.”
It’s time for me to hand over to my colleague Louise Moon, who will steer the blog into the evening. Thanks for following along today!
BCC: Roadmap ‘helpful’ – but more is needed
Adam Marshall from the British Chambers of Commerce has offered a tentative welcome to the Prime Minister’s roadmap, saying:
It is helpful that many businesses across England can now see a path to restart and recovery. Absolute clarity and honesty will be needed every step of the way over the weeks ahead, so that businesses have a fighting chance to rebuild. The stop-start dynamic of the past year, which has so damaged businesses and communities, must come to an end.
Even with the Prime Minister’s new roadmap, the future of thousands of firms and millions of jobs still hangs by a thread.
He called for an the key support schemes to be extended through the summer.
HSBC looks east with finance boss pay rise
HSBC’s finance boss has been given a £150,000 pay rise after being handed the reins for dealmaking as the bank strives to boost its performance and expand operations in Asia.
My colleague Lucy Burton reports:
Ewen Stevenson will be tasked with sealing future takeovers by the bank on top of his existing role. Sources told Sky News that his pay rise, which takes his base salary to almost £1.1m, will go to charity this year.
Mr Stevenson joined from NatWest, then still known as Royal Bank of Scotland, in 2019.
HSBC, which bought the UK’s Midland Bank in 1992, has made some disastrous acquisitions in the past. It took over one of America’s largest subprime lenders Household International in 2003 for $15bn. HSBC agreed to a huge package for its boss which included a private jet and dental care, but by 2009 it closed the business.
What’s opening on April 12th?
Here’s a quick rundown of which business may be reopening on April 12th (per Bloomberg):
Non-essential shops, hairdressers and nail salons, outdoor attractions including zoos and theme parks, indoor gyms and swimming pools, and hospitality for outdoor service. Self-catered holiday accommodation would also open at this point.
Non-essential shops to open from April 12th
Two key points from the Prime Minister’s statement today:
The English public will be asked to work from home until June 21st
Non-essential shops and hospitality will re-open from April 12th
Two households will be allowed to mix from May 17th at the earliest
Johnson to announce roadmap out of lockdown – follow live
Boris Johnson is unveiling his long-awaited roadmap out of lockdown, which includes four stages and four tests that must be met as part of the "irreversible" path back to freedom.
My colleague Cat Neilan reports:
The four stages will roughly correspond to the months of March, April, May and June. March 8 marks the first of these stages, with all schools reopening, while organised outdoor sport will be permitted from March 29.
However, the lifting of lockdown will be gradual, spread over at least four months with social distancing rules and guidance to work from home remaining in the near term.
Follow live updates here: Politics latest news: Lockdown rules to start easing from March 8 – watch Boris Johnson live
I’ll bring you any interest business reaction we get here.
Full report: Trouble-prone 777s banned from UK airspace
My colleague Alan Tovey has a full report on the decision to ban Boeing 777s with the engine linked to a number of incidents over the weekend from British airspace.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the 777s with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines will be prevented from entering UK airspace temporarily and that he is “working closely” with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Boeing has said it supports the grounding of 777s with the affected engine by Japan Civil Aviation Bureau and the US Federal Aviation Administration, meaning that United Airlines, Japan Airlines ANA cannot use their aircraft.
Two other operators, Korean Air Lines and Asiana, followed suited voluntarily, while a third Korean carrier, Jin Air, is waiting for recommendations from the Seoul government. The UK ban is unlikely to have much impact though, with major regulators having already acted meaning that it is unlikely that 777s with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines will get near UK airspace.
EASA, the European regulator, has yet to ban the aircraft, but says it is in contact with the FAA.
Wall Street opens lower
US stocks started the week in the red with investors pricing in stronger growth and faster inflation as the global economy recovers from the pandemic.
S&P 500 -0.7pc
Dow Jones -0.5pc
Boeing 777s with Pratt & Whitney engines banned from UK airspace
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has temporarily banned Boeing 777s with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 series engines from entering UK airspace.
Read the full story here on Boeing's latest crisis here
LVMH takes 50pc stake in Jay–Z’s champage brand – WSJ
Luxury goods giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has taken a bought a stake in rapper Jay–Z’s champagne business, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The paper reports:
LVMH, the world’s biggest producer of Champagne, has taken a 50% stake in Armand de Brignac, the high-end Champagne brand owned by Jay-Z, the rapper and mogul. The brand, one of the youngest in the famed sparkling wine region, is known for its metallic bottles that cost hundreds of dollars each.
The investment, LVMH and Jay-Z said, is aimed at growing Armand de Brignac through LVMH’s global distribution networks while drawing upon the conglomerate’s vast resources within Champagne wine country. It comes at a difficult moment for Champagne: The pandemic canceled weddings, soirees and other occasions to pop corks, cutting sales of the wine by around 20pc last year. The two sides didn’t disclose the value of the transaction.
With just over an hour until the US open, European markets remain solidly in the red — although they are off the lows touched earlier in the session.
Hayes’ conviction for Libor rigging under review
Tom Hayes’ conviction for rigging Libor interest rates is being examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, a body set up to review allegations of miscarriages of justice.
My colleague Simon Foy reports:
The former UBS trader who served five and a half years in prison, has said fresh evidence will prove his conviction was unsafe after he filed a 2,300-page application that is being considered by the commission.
The 41-year-old said the jury that convicted him was presented with a “false narrative and they reached a conclusion based on those facts”.
“I believe had they been presented with full evidence they would have reached a very different conclusion,” he told the BBC.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said he was found guilty by a jury and the Court of Appeal had upheld the conviction.
Read more: Tom Hayes’ Libor conviction under review
Bitcoin dips after hitting new records at weekend
The world’s most popular cryptocurrency fell more than 6pc on Monday, after surging to record highs the previous day.
My colleague Hannah Boland reports:
Analysts said the dip in Bitcoin prices was not linked to any specific news events but instead reflect a new trend where weekend rallies are proving not to be sustainable.
Bitcoin was last trading down 4.4pc at $54,941. Another cryptocurrency, ether, also fell 7pc to $1,798 after reaching a new record on Saturday.
Read more and this and the day’s other top tech stories here: Bitcoin extends two-month rally to surpass $58,000
Marston’s boss warns more pubs likely to go under
The boss of Marston's has warned that more pubs will go under without urgent help as the Government prepares to unveil its roadmap for lifting lockdown.
My colleague Simon Foy reports:
Ralph Findlay, chief executive of the pub chain, said it was "inevitable" that more pubs will run out of money before they could reopen, adding that many had already done so.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “There has been government support for business but as a sector we have had no income for nine months – we’re still incurring costs. So each week as more money is being spent, there is only so long that can go on for... I do think it is really important for us to get back to normal.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to present his plan for gradually lifting restrictions on Monday afternoon. The earliest pubs are expected to reopen in any meaningful sense is May, although they could be allowed to serve outdoors from April.
Read more: More pubs set to go bust before reopening
Black British Business Awards seek UK’s top black business leaders
Nominations are open for this year’s Black British Business Awards, an annual event that celebrates the achievements of some of the country’s top corporate bosses and entrepreneurs.
My colleague Matthew Caines reports:
Now in its eighth year, the awards highlight “commercial excellence” among black professionals in six areas: arts and media; consumer and luxury; start-ups; financial services; professional services; and STEM (science, tech, engineering and maths).
A “rising star” and “senior leader” award will be presented for each category during a digital ceremony in October.
Sophie Chandauka, co-founder of the awards, said: “This is a community that has remained resilient and focused on contributing to the UK economy in the face of a pandemic, racial unrest and personal pain. This is our time to reward and recognise these unsung heroes.”
Copper continues strong gains
Copper has continued to make strong gains today amid concerns rapidly-increasing demand may lead to a shortfall in supply.
Prices rose above $9,000 a ton earlier today according to one measure of futures prices, amid a broader tear for metals prices as investors bet on a strong rebound in global demand.
The metal’s revival marks a turnaround from earlier in the month, when copper hit turbulence as investors signaled the need for more details about stimulus measures and on concerns about a softening in Chinese demand. But prices rose during China’s Lunar New Year as factory production was more buoyant than usual.
Rio Tinto boss received 20pc pay rise despite heritage site disaster
Rio Tinto’s former boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques had a 20pc pay rise last year despite the Juukan Gorge disaster which led to his resignation.
My colleague Rachel Millard reports:
He took home a total pay packet of £7,224,000 including salary of £1.16m and share awards worth £5.7m.
Jacques stepped down on January 1 following the outcry over Rio Tinto’s blowing up sacred Aboriginal caves in Australia in search of iron ore.
He was docked his short-term bonus and £1m worth of long-term share awards in response to the disaster.
But the rest of his long-term share bonuses have benefited from a significant increase in Rio’s share price since the bonus scheme was set up in 2016.
He is on gardening leave until March 31 and is eligible to receive payments in lieu of notice.
Sam Laidlaw, chair of the remuneration committee, said the board “fully recognised the gravity of the destruction at Juukan Gorge but was mindful that the three executives did not deliberately cause the events to happen, they did not do anything unlawful, nor did they engage in fraudulent or dishonest behaviour or wilfully neglect their duties.”
Here are some of the day’s top stories from the Telegraph Money team:
Move over Cornwall – Britain’s new holiday let capital is Wales: Levels of second homes in Wales are soaring, with buyers drawn by the rugged scenery and more affordable property.
Five tax traps that mean you pay more than a millionaire: For some people a small pay rise can end up costing them far more than they gain.
The best value places to buy property in the countryside – where prices are rising fastest: You can get more house for your money in the countryside, but with prices rising post-Covid this value gap may not last much longer.
G4S drops 10pc as Garda walks away
Shares in security group G$S have dropped about 10pc after would-be suitor GardaWorld poured cold water on the prospect of a bidding war by refusing to raise its offer.
Pound recovers after dip below $1.40
Sterling has recovered back above $1.40 following a dip this morning amid caution over the pace of the Government’s re-opening roadmap. It topped the threshold for the first time since 2018 on Friday, and is the best-performing major global currency so far this year.
German business sentiment improves
German business sentiment improved slightly this month, coming in with stronger-than-expected readings despite the backdrop of continued restrictions and uncertainty.
The Ifo Institute’s gauges of current conditions and expectations both improved slightly on January, although they remain weak by historic standards.
Expectations: 54.2 (prev. 91.1, survey 91.7)
Current assessment: 90.6 (prev. 89.1, survey 89.1)
Business climate: 92.4 (prev. 90.1, survey 90.5)
Ifo Institute president Clemens Fuest said:
Companies assessed their current situation as worse than last month. Their expectations were also more pessimistic. The second wave of coronavirus has brought the recovery of the German economy to a halt for now.
FTSE extends losses
After less than an hour of trading, the FTSE 100 has extended its losses and is now now more than a percentage point.
M&B launches £351m amid heavy cash burn
Mitchells & Butlers said it is burning through as much as £35m per month during lockdown as the pub chain formally launched a £350m fundraising effort.
My colleague Simon Foy reports:
The company said it had a cash balance of just £113m as of January 16, with all facilities drawn, and needs to make a £51m interest payment on its debts by March 15.
It came as the All Bar One owner officially launched a £351m open offer, calling it “critical for the continued operation of the group and its immediate financial stability”.
It has also agreed with pension trustees to delay monthly contributions from January to March.
Between the end of September and mid-January, sales were down 70pc on the same period in the previous year.
Sunak softens on reopening
My colleague Ben Riley-Smith says that the Chancellor – who has been seen as one of the more prominent voices calling for restrictions to be eased – has softened his stance recently:
FTSE opens in the red
The FTSE 100 has opened slightly in the red, in a broad downwards move for European equities following Friday’s moderate gains.
Garda says 235p G4S offer is final
Canadian suitor GardaWorld has ruled out sweetening its offer for UK-based security outsourcer G4S, meaning rival bidder Allied Universal is in pole position to take over the FTSE 250 group.
Garda stuck by a 3250-per-share offering, despite G4S having already accepted Allied’s 245p bid, which values the company’s share capital at about £3.8bn.
Stephan Crétier, boss of GardaWorld, said:
There can be no better owner for G4S than GardaWorld, but we are disciplined buyers and we will not overpay for a company with systemic ESG issues that continue to come to light…
In light of the above, we have concluded that priced above 235 pence per share, there are better and less risky opportunities available to GardaWorld.
Fresh crisis for Boeing as 777s are grounded following debris incidents
Plane-maker Boeing has been plunged into a fresh crisis after multiple incidents involving its aircraft showering debris due to apparent engine issues.
My colleague David Millward reports:
United Airlines grounded 24 of its Boeing 777s on Sunday while Japan also suspended some of its fleet, after two jets using the same family of engines showered debris on the ground shortly after take-off.
The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive calling for the inspection of Boeing 777s, following two separate incidents involving Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines on Saturday.
In the US, one of the engines on a United Airlines Boeing 777 exploded shortly after it took off from Denver en route to Honolulu…
In a separate move, Japanese authorities grounded its Boeing 777s also using Pratt & Whitney engines. Japan said ANA operated 19 of the type and JAL operated 13 of them, though the airlines said their use had been reduced during the pandemic. JAL said its fleet was due for retirement by March 2022.
Boeing has said it recommends airlines suspend usage of the planes, with the decision creating fresh headaches for the company shortly after its 737 Max aircraft was once again cleared to fly following two fatal crashes.
Agenda: Lockdown exit plan
Good morning. The FTSE 100 is set to open in the red as Boris Johnson prepares to announce his roadmap for lifting the coronavirus lockdown.
The plan is expected to involve four steps which will see a gradual reopening of society and the economy from next Monday.
5 things to start your day
1) Alistair Darling warns Sunak off tax raid: the former Chancellor who oversaw Britain's initial response to the financial crisis explains why it is too early to attempt to rebalance the books.
2) UK plc dividends suffer 41pc pandemic plunge: Payouts from banks and oil giants suffered the most, according to data that tells investors to brace for a slow return to pre-Covid levels.
3) Mark Carney joins board of US payments start-up: Stripe welcomes former Bank of England governor as it negotiates a new funding round that could leave it with a $100bn valuation.
4) More John Lewis stores at risk of closure: the employee-owned retailer is under pressure to slash costs after huge losses.
5) Electric car rush drives rare earths arms race: shortage of key materials and rising demand prompt urgent calls for action to avoid supply issues as prices threaten to rocket.
What happened overnight
The bond selloff continued Monday as Treasury yields climbed and sovereign debt in Australia and New Zealand slid on concerns about faster inflation, tempering stock market optimism from positive vaccine news.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields climbed to the highest in about a year. A gauge of Asian stocks edged lower, erasing earlier gains amid a surge in metals that could fan price pressures. Japanese shares outperformed while other key markets lagged. S&P 500 and European futures dipped after the U.S. index slipped Friday.
Copper hit the highest in more than nine years in a sign of optimism about the global recovery. Crude oil climbed to $60 a barrel as the market assessed the fallout from the big freeze across Texas. Bitcoin notched another record over the weekend, spurring a rally in the shares of Asian cryptocurrency stocks.
Coming up today
Ifo survey (Germany)