- G4S cuts 1,000 jobs in cash handling division
- FTSE 100 climbs on recovery optimism
- Boohoo's share price slumps again
- Heathrow passenger traffic still down 95pc in June
- US and Asian markets rally
- Roger Bootle: Sunak’s largesse may come back to bite us, but it is still the right choice
- Sign up here for our daily business briefing newsletter
Well, that's all from us for today, I'm off to go and write today's market report.
Here a quick summary of what happened today.
World stock markets advanced today, helped by investor confidence in upcoming US quarterly earnings and the business outlook, and by hopes for progress towards a coronavirus vaccine.
A spike in COVID-19 infections across the globe kept a lid on gains.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index stood more than 400 points higher in the late New York morning.
Key European stock markets were well over one percent up by the close.
Earlier, Asia had led the way with solid gains across the region.
Oil prices fell on festering fears over demand-destroying coronavirus, and before this week's expanded OPEC+ technical gathering of key crude producers who are expected to curb production cuts.
Coming up tomorrow:
- Interim results: Ashmore, McColl’s Retail, Ocado
- Full-year: AO World, Halma, McBride, Polar Capital Technology Trust
- Trading statement: QinetiQ
- Economics: May GDP, BRC retail sales, OBR fiscal sustainability report (UK); trade balance (UK and China); industrial production (eurozone); inflation (US)
Gas and electricity networks could be hit by fines
A number of gas and electricity networks, including the National Grid, could be hit by fines of more than £140m by the energy watchdog after they were accused of failing to put forward business plans that looked out for consumers.
Ofgem said in its recent price determination, in which it sets out how much networks are allowed to take in profits for the next five years, that a number of network companies should be fined millions of pounds for submitting plans that lacked sufficient detail and clarity.
National Grid confirmed in an interview that it was one of the companies fined by Ofgem.
Nicola Shaw, executive director of the National Grid, said: "Ofgem has told us that we didn't provide what they asked for, but they don't realise that maybe that has something to do with them."
Ms Shaw said the regulator had only given its latest guidance one month before the company was due to submit its business plan.
She confirmed that the National Grid had been hit by "tens of millions of pounds" in fines.
FTSE gains 1.33pc
London's benchmark index closed 1.33pc higher at 6,176.19 while the FTSE 250 closed up 1.19pc as equity markets enjoed a bullish run on the back of Covid-19 vaccine hopes.
In the eurozone, the Frankfurt DAX and Paris CAC closed up 1.32 and 1.73pc higher respectively.
David Madden of CMC Markets says:
Pfizer and BioNTech are working together to produce drugs that will hopefully go on to be vaccines for Covid-19. Earlier today it was announced the Food and Drug Administration, the US regulatory body, has fast-tracked two of their four drugs.
There are no guarantees that anything will come of this, but it’s a step in the right direction, and that has lifted market sentiment.
On Friday, it was revealed that Remdesivir, the anti-viral drug produced by Gilead Sciences, can reduce the fatality rate in Covid-19 patients by 62%, so at the moment there is a sense of hope on the health front.
Tesla shares surge as it becomes 12th most valuable listed company in US
Tesla shares have continued their charge with the electric car company now the 12th most valuable listed company in the US, my colleague Alan Tovey writes.
Investors drove up the price of Elon Musk’s business by more than 14pc in lunchtime trading in the US.
As the London exchange was winding down, Tesla shares were trading at $1,766, valuing the business at $328bn.
This places it just below the little known Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which is currently worth $331bn, and above household name Procter & Gamble, at $309bn.
However, it's way behind the top two businesses - Apple with a value of $1.72 trillion and Amazon at $1.66 trillion.
Still, it is far more than any other automotive company in the world - the next most valuable is Toyota, at about $205bn.
All the more astounding is that Tesla has built just over 1m cars in the 12 years since it started production, whereas Toyota produces more than 10m vehicles annually.
However, this could drop in the next few weeks. The company is due to quarterly results July 22 and the shares could tumble if hopes of strong deliveries and production are not met.
Nasdaq hits fresh high
Just before we take a look at how European markets closed, the Nasdaq has hit a fresh all time high:
- DOW 26476.59 +1.54%
- SPX 3226.7 +1.31%
- NDX 11052.9 +2.00%
- RTY 1428.67 +0.42%
- VIX 27.78 +1.80%
Convictions in Unaoil bribery case delivers win for SFO
Two former oil executives have been convicted for conspiring to give corrupt payments to secure valuable contracts in Iraq in a much-needed victory for the embattled Serious Fraud Office.
The convictions form part of a sprawling three-year investigation by the SFO into illegal payments made by the oil consultancy Unaoil in a saga that has already engulfed giants such as Rolls-Royce and Halliburton.
Ziad Akle, a manager at Unaoil, and Stephen Whitely, an executive at Dutch oil company SBM, were found guilty on Monday by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of paying bribes worth more than $500,000 to secure a $55m contract in Iraq following the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
Both men were ensnared in what has been described as one of the biggest corporate bribery schemes, centring on the Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil and involving law enforcement agencies in Australia, the US and the Netherlands.
PepsiCo gives hope at start of US earnings season
If not quite at their initial highs, the markets nevertheless remained strong all session, including, inexplicably, the Dow Jones.
Connor Campbell of SpreadEx says:
PepsiCo, one of the first major firms to update, helped set the stage for a potentially better than forecast season in general. Revenues at the drinks and snacks giant fell 3.1% in Q2 to $15.95 billion –far greater than the $15.38bn forecast. Adjusted earnings per share saw a similar beat, at $1.32 against analysts’ £1.25 estimates.
While the drinks division is suffering from the impact lockdown has had on restaurants, a snack-happy populace has lifted sales of Cheetos and the like.
Though not part of the Dow’s illustrious 30, PepsiCo’s report generated enough residual goodwill to help push the index 350 points higher, returning it to 26400.
PepsiCo’s performance could just be a one off, however. The bigger picture will start to emerge from Tuesday, when JP Morgan, Barnes & Noble and a surely dreadful Delta Air all report. Domino’s Pizza, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are then on Thursday, with BlackRock on Friday.
That's all from me for today. My colleague LaToya Harding will steer you through the European close and the rest of the evening.
Thanks for following!
Barclays gave Roger Jenkins £50m payoff, court hears
A star banker for Barclays was handed a £50m payoff when he left in 2009 after forging a crucial rescue deal for the bank at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, a court has heard.
My colleague Lucy Burton reports;
The bumper package for Roger Jenkins was in addition to his annual pay of about £39m.
Known as "Big Dog" by some of his colleagues, he was viewed as the gatekeeper to Barclays’ relationship with Qatari investors and played a crucial role in securing their cash as part of the rescue deal.
The huge payoff meant Mr Jenkins, who co-hosted a lavish charity party with actor George Clooney at his £30m Mayfair mansion just after securing the deal, would have taken home almost £80m just a year after the crash and been one of the world's best-paid bankers.
Details of his exit package were discussed in court just days after it emerged that he had referred to financier Amanda Staveley, who was also involved in the crisis-era fundraising and is suing Barclays, as "the tart" and "that dolly-bird" while discussing the cash injection with a colleague at the time.
Ms Staveley's client, Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, became the bank's largest shareholder after contributing £3.5bn to the rescue deal. She is suing Barclays for £1.6bn over claims that Sheikh Mansour and her firm PCP Capital Partners were unfairly treated.
Quiz suspends Leicester-based supplier over illegal wage claims
Fast-fashion brand Quiz has severed ties with a major supplier after admitting that a factory in Leicester could be paying illegal wages to workers.
My colleague Laura Onita reports:
The retailer said it is extremely concerned by allegations that a partner firm is paying employees as little as £3 an hour.
Bosses have carried out an initial investigation and believe that one of Quiz's suppliers has used another firm for the work, breaching its code of conduct.
Quiz said: "It is this subcontractor that is subject of the national living wage complaint."
The firm has stopped working with the main supplier while it looks into the claims further.
It comes a week after similar claims wiped £1.8bn off the value of rival Boohoo, and has put the UK supply chain under the spotlight once again.
Glasgow-based Quiz runs more than 70 stores across the UK and has another 174 concessions at department stores such as Debenhams. It employs more than 1,500 people in the Britain and Ireland.
City watchdog takes legal action over claims gang illegally repossessed property from struggling mortgage customers
The City watchdog has launched legal action against two property investment companies and their owner over claims they swindled vulnerable borrowers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
My colleague Michael O'Dwyer reports:
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is demanding the return of properties to the alleged victims and the repayment of money it claims they lost as part of a scam.
The watchdog has secured an interim injunction to halt the firms’ activities and freeze 17 homes worth about £3.9m. Another £867,770 worth of the defendants’ assets have also been frozen.
The regulator is taking civil proceedings in the High Court against London Property Investments (UK) Limited (LPI) and NPI Holdings Limited as well as Daniel Stevens, their owner and sole director, and his father Anthony Kafetzis.
It claims the firms were not authorised to offer high interest loans to customers who were at risk of losing their homes to lenders.
The FCA claims the loans increased victims’ debts and that their terms and the relationship between the two firms was not explained. When customers wanted to sell their homes, LPI would tell them NPI was willing to buy the house and rent it back to them, it is claimed.
The defendants could not be reached for comment.
Brexit paperwork chaos leaves hauliers in the dark
Mass confusion over freight paperwork could trigger long tailbacks at Britain's borders and damage the flow of vital goods, Whitehall officials have admitted in a leaked document.
My colleague Lizzy Burden reports:
Lorry drivers without the right details risk being stopped from boarding ferries bound for the European Union or when they land at EU ports, according to the 206-page study – with hauliers fined or sent back to Britain as a result.
The Border With The European Union document acknowledged this could “lead to significant queues and delays on the roads approaching ports in the UK if a high volume of HGVs do not have the correct documentation”. It is due to be made public later today.
Haulage groups said that the new Brexit guidance fails to answer critical questions about the customs checks which more than 10,000 lorries will face every day as they head through UK ports after the transition period ends.
There are particular concerns around the Smart Freight System, a web portal where every lorry driver leaving Britain will be required to submit information about goods travelling to the EU from January, regardless of whether there is a trade deal.
Wall Street opens in the green
US stocks started the week in positive territory as investors brace for the beginning of earnings season.
Bailey says UK won't become a fully cashless society in the 'forseeable future'
Considering Andrew Bailey is speaking to school children, the discussion so far has been quite relaxed and age-appropriate.
But one interesting thing he did mentioned was his view that the UK will not become a fully cashless society in the "foreseeable future".
He added that cash remains "a fall back for all of us".
G4S to axe more than 1,000 jobs
After cheering investors this morning with an upbeat announcement on profit forecasts, G4S said it is set to cut jobs in its UK cash business.
Trade union GMB said that more than 1,000 jobs were at risk, adding that it was in talks with the London-listed firm "to try and save as many roles as possible."
While G4S' trading has remained robust during the pandemic, its cash business has struggled with falling demand for paper money.
Paul van der Knaap, G4S' managing director for cash solutions in the UK, said: "Following a review of our Cash Solutions operational footprint in the UK, we are proposing to reshape the business."
In February, the private security services provider in February sold the majority of its cash handling businesses to US peer Brinks.
Andrew Bailey's speaks as part of 'Speakers for Schools' initiative
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey is currently speaking as part of a "Speakers for Schools" programme.
Follow his talk via the link in the below tweet:
SAVE THE DATE: Meet #AndrewBailey from @bankofengland His #VTALK to students at 2pm on MONDAY 13th July will reveal the world of banking! This FREE event is open to all UK Schools & Students! ADD TO CALENDAR HERE: https://t.co/YpIQRcLszs@JasonElsom @prentonhigh pic.twitter.com/IJtWWSW3NZ— Speakers for Schools (@speakrs4schools) July 10, 2020
Pepsi jumps after Americans stack up on snacks
Pepsi reported a stronger-than-expected spring as homebound consumers looking for comfort stocked up on snack foods.
Bloomberg has the details.
As Covid-19 raged across the US, Americans seeking out familiar flavours filled their shelves with salty, crunchy treats, driving double-digit sales growth for brands like Tostitos, Fritos and Cheetos.
Even newer snacks like fruit-chips line Bare and Off The Eaten Path, a maker of black bean and chickpea crisps, saw double-digit growth as households loaded up.
Beverage sales were one key weakness, as both in-restaurant and grab-and-go gas station sales lagged during the lockdowns.
“Our snacks and food business has performed very well, while our beverage business was challenged but continued to improve its competitive positioning,” Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta said in pre-recorded remarks about the second quarter.
“Consumer eating habits continue to evolve with consumers spending more time at home, which benefits the at-home breakfast, snacking and dinner occasions.”
PepsiCo shares rose as much as 3.3% in early U.S. trading. The stock was little changed this year through Friday.
As one of the first big packaged-food companies reporting results for the spring months, PepsiCo is being closely watched by investors for a look at how consumers are responding to 2020’s upheaval. The company is well-positioned because of its high global share of the market for snack foods, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Unite Students plan 300-bed site in Edinburgh
One of the UK's biggest student landlords has signed a deal to develop a new 300-bed site in Edinburgh.
Unite Students said the development will cost £24m and it hopes tenants will be able to move in during the academic year starting in 2023.
Unite already has 2,200 beds in the city that is home to 55,000 full-time students across Edinburgh's four universities.
"The scheme will be funded through the proceeds of our recent placing, and delivers enhanced returns relative to pre-Covid-19 levels," chief executive Richard Smith said.
Wetherspoon is set to slash the price of food and drink
Wetherspoon is set to slash the price of food and drink across the majority of its pubs as it prepares to pass on the Chancellor’s VAT cut to customers.
My colleague Hannah Uttley reports:
The pub chain will begin reducing prices on pints of real ale, coffee, soft drinks, breakfasts, burgers and pizzas from Wednesday, with the price cuts to be fully implemented by July 20.
Tea and coffee at Wetherspoon’s pubs will cost an average of 16p less at £1.29, while breakfasts will be reduced to £3.49, down 41p.
The Chancellor’s VAT cut from 20pc to 5pc only applies to hot food, coffee and soft drinks, but Wetherspoon has chosen to reflect some of the savings in the price of its real ale.
As a result of the VAT cut, a pint of Ruddles Bitter will cost £1.29, an average reduction of 50p, while Doom Bar will be an average of 31p lower at £1.79. Abbot Ale will be reduced by an average of 40p and guest beers by 26p to £1.99.
The price reductions on real ale will apply to 764 of Wetherspoon’s pubs, with the price of an equivalent pint £1 higher at its remaining 103 pubs which are located in town and city centres, airports and stations.
However, these pubs will have price reductions of at least 10p per drink and 20p per meal, Wetherspoon said.
Founder and chairman Tim Martin said the reduction in VAT would help create more jobs and support struggling high streets.
“Lower VAT and tax equality will eventually lead to lower prices, more employment, busier high streets and more taxes for the government,” he said.
“Congratulations to Chancellor Rishi Sunak for a sensible economic initiative, which is long overdue.”
Bermuda to reveal true owners of its companies
Bermuda is set to unmask the true owners of companies in the territory following years of criticism and fears that secrecy could fuel international crime.
My colleague Michael O'Dwyer reports:
The beneficial owners of Bermuda’s 15,000 companies will be disclosed on a new register as international pressure grows on regulators to do more to combat and prevent financial crime.
The British Overseas Territory plans to publish proposals within a year of a review of the EU’s fifth anti-money laundering directive, due in January 2022.
The Atlantic island previously resisted naming the owners of its companies fearing such a move would damage its economy.
Bermuda is one of the world’s largest insurance hubs, offering low tax, favourable regulation and easy access to the US.
UK-registered companies have been required since 2016 to keep a register of people with significant control to help boost transparency and combat fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Former British prime minister David Cameron campaigned for Bermuda and others to remove a “cloak of secrecy” by maintaining a public register. He argued that opaque ownership structures facilitated questionable practices and illegality.
On Monday, Curtis Dickinson, Bermuda’s current finance minister, said the move “underpins our commitment to ensure that Bermuda remains a jurisdiction of choice for quality and compliant business”.
He said: “Bermuda has always led by example. We have a long-standing commitment to compliance with international standards on tax cooperation, transparency, and combatting money laundering, terrorist financing, and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.”
Rise in retail footfall more than doubled to 10.6pc last week
The reopening of the hospitality industry led to a 10.6pc rise in footfall across all UK retail destinations last week, more than double the 4.1pc increase in the previous week.
There were also positive signs for the UK's embattled high streets, with footfall jumping 16.5pc on the previous week, according to new data from Springboard.
However, footfall is still more than 50pc below the level it was at for the same period last year.
Diane Wehrle at Springboard said:
The first complete week following the reopening of hospitality in England demonstrates the contribution that this sector makes to footfall in retail destinations. The result was also supported by the positive impact on footfall from the easing of restrictions in other nations.
Billionaire Manfred Gorvy's juice empire returns to profit
My colleague Rachel Millard reports:
Property entrepreneur Manfred Gorvy’s holding company Hanover Acceptances swung from a £14m loss to a £30m profit last year.
The group, which owns property in the south-east of England and London and also produces fruit juice, said trading had remained strong despite political uncertainty during 2019.
The profit swing was due to an increase in value of its property investment portfolio. It reported a rise in rental income, from £31.3m in 2018 to £35m last year.
Hanover Acceptances owns the developer Dorrington as well as the venture capital firm Fresh Capital.
In accounts published last week at Companies House, it said its office portfolio was only partially occupied due to Covid-19 but its residential portfolio was largely unaffected.
Market update: Europe retreats from earlier highs
European markets have pared some of their earlier gains but are still trading firmly in the green.
The FTSE 100 is being led by miners Fresnillo and Evraz.
ICYMI: How North Korea’s army of hackers stole $2bn through cyber bank heists
North Korean hackers are attempting to raise money for the regime by stealing from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.
They even managed to steal the credit card information of Claire's Accessories shoppers during lockdown and have been posing as recruiters in the UK on LinkedIn.
My colleague James Cook reports:
Towards the end of last year, a series of seemingly innocuous LinkedIn messages were sent to employees of aerospace and military companies in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
“We welcome elites like you. I want you to work for our company” said one message which appeared to have been sent by a recruiter working for a rival business .
Curious engineers who replied to the job offers were sent further messages urging them to download files to find out more about the opportunities.
“As you are a reliable elite, I will recommend you to our very important department,” the recruiter promised before encouraging them to open the file they had sent.
The file contained a list of available jobs and the salaries for each role. While recipients read through the list of highly paid positions, their computers were silently taken over by hackers who implanted software that allowed them to peer through all of their files and emails.
The lucrative jobs weren’t real, and neither were the recruiters.
Ripping out Huawei could cause outages and risk fibre rollout, warns BT boss
Ripping out Huawei from the UK's telecoms infrastructure could cause mobile outages and take 10 years to complete, the boss of BT has warned.
Earlier, we reported:
Philip Jansen said: "If you get into a situation where [replacing] things need to go very, very fast, then you’re into a situation where potentially service for 24 million BT group mobile customers is put into question – outages would be possible."
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he added that Huawei had been part of the telecoms infrastructure for about 20 years, and is a big supplier to BT and many others in the industry. Therefore the Government's decision on whether to ban it is "all about timing and balance".
It comes as the Government looks set to halt the involvement of the Chinese tech giant in the UK's 5G network over security concerns.
Mr Jansen also said that removing all Huawei products from the network would take about 10 years, while taking it out of the 5G infrastructure could be completed in five to seven years.
The BT chief executive also stressed that removing Huawei from the network poses security risks in the short term and it could jeopardise full fibre rollout by 2025.
German economic recovery only in early stages, says government
Germany’s economy continues to recover following the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions, but remains well below capacity, according to a government report.
Bloomberg has the details:
While the recovery began in May, the second quarter will still show negative growth.
“The economic recovery is still at the beginning,” the economy ministry said Monday. “Capacities are still clearly under-used.”
“Only in the third quarter will gross domestic product register positive rates again,” the ministry said in a statement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has launched a €130bn (£117bn) stimulus plan that includes tax incentives, aid for childcare and municipal governments as well as spending on cleaner energy and digitalization, to help pull the country out of its worst recession since the end of World War II.
Short-term initiatives include a temporary cut in value-added tax and a cash bonus for parents of €300 per child.
The package of measures will raise €218bn euros in new debt this year.
According to preliminary figures from the labor ministry, some 6 million workers were enrolled in the government’s short-term employment program in May, down from 6.8 million a month earlier.
Germany’s economy is projected to contract by more than 6pc this year due to the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
European Commission approves €3.4bn Dutch bailout for KLM
The European Commission has approved the €3.4bn (£3.1bn) bailout package promised by the Dutch government to airline KLM last month.
Reuters has the details:
After months of wrangling with France over the role each country should play in a coronavirus rescue deal, the Netherlands said it would support the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM with €2.4bn in bank loans with guarantees, and a €1bn direct loan.
Man City's European ban lifted
Some big breaking news in the sporting world that has significant financial implications for Manchester City.
The club's two-year ban for breaking "financial fair play" rules, which are designed to stop clubs from overspending, has been lifted.
This means it will be able to compete in the lucrative Champions League next season.
The club, which is owned by City Football Group, an Abu Dhabi-controlled business, will also have its £30m fine reduced to £10m.
Manchester City's two year ban from European football has been lifted— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) July 13, 2020
Heathrow passenger traffic still down 95pc in June
Heathrow's passenger numbers were still down 95pc in June compared to the same month last year, with just 350,000 people travelling through the airport.
The transport hub said demand for inbound travel was "immediately" hit when the Government's controversial quarantine policy came into force on June 8.
Across all destinations, the number of flights fell 82pc, with its North American and African markets seeing the biggest declines.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's chief executive, said:
Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kick-start the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world.
We're ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from 'red' countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane. "This requires a common international standard for testing, which the UK government could take a global lead in setting up.
Total passenger numbers for the first half of the year were down 60pc.
G4S says earnings will be 'significantly' above expectations
Security firm G4S said first half earnings will be "significantly above market consensus" due to a resilient trading performance in June.
The company has been boosted during the pandemic by providing security services to Covid-19 testing sites and NHS Nightingale hospitals.
Shares rose 9.1pc as G4S said it will bring forward its first half results announcement to the week commencing 20 July.
Boohoo plunges again
Yet another bad morning for Boohoo investors.
The stock has shed another 12pc in early trading after the Guardian reported over the weekend that its co-founder has links to the Leicester factory accused of paying less than the minimum wage and failing to protect staff from coronavirus.
The Aim-listed stock has lost nearly two-fifths of its value since the beginning of the month.
Centamin 'on track' to meet full year guidance
Gold miner Centamin said it was on track to meet its full year guidance after second quarter revenue jumped 54pc, driven by stronger production and higher prices for precious metal.
The firm sold 130,745 ounces of gold, a 16pc increase compared to the same period last year.
Shares rose 1.3pc in early trading.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi to launch in October
European budget carrier Wizz Air has joined forces with ADQ, one of the Middle East's largest holding companies, to launch Wizz Air Abu Dhabi – a national airline of the United Arab Emirates.
The joint venture will launch in October with two Airbus A321neos to six new routes including Alexandria, Athens and Odesa.
József Váradi, Wizz's chief executive, said:
This announcement is the first step of a long and much awaited journey as we are dedicated to developing our presence in Abu Dhabi, contributing to Abu Dhabi's economic diversity strategy while offering ever more affordable travel opportunities on our low fare network.
We much appreciate the support we have been given by the government, its affiliated organizations and our local business partners in Abu Dhabi.
Europe jumps at the open
European markets have started the week firmly in the green ahead of the start of earnings season,
Agenda: Stocks set to start week higher
Good morning. European stocks are set to start the week higher on hopes of a quicker-than-expected economic recovery.
It comes as investors await the start of an earnings season that will provide more clues on how companies are coping with the pandemic.
Meanwhile some states in the US, such as Florida and Texas, continue to report record daily increases in virus cases.
5 things to start your day
1) A Telegraph poll found that businesses believe a VAT deferral scheme which expired in June should be extended to help businesses stay afloat as economic pain continues to bite.
2) Halfords has benefited from an uptick in bike sales and expects to gain further as motorists begin driving again, but is pushing ahead with plans to close 60 sites.
3) A consultation on free ports will end this week, but it already faces critique from the industry for being too small in its ambitions. A letter to the Chancellor seen by the Telegraph raises concerns that the plan for only 10 sites will "distort competition".
4) The gambling industry received a boost from the House of Lords, which said it was "sympathetic" to calls to increase the maximum number of gaming machines allowed in casinos.
5) Smaller accounting firms are likely to follow the Big Four in spinning off their auditing arms, a move which follows a series of scandals around lax auditing practices at British businesses.
What happened overnight
Asian shares crept toward five-month peaks today as investors wagered the US earnings season would see most companies beat forecasts given expectations had been lowered so far by coronavirus lockdowns.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.15pc, having climbed sharply last week on the back of surging Chinese stocks, which added another 1pc on Monday.
Japan's Nikkei gained 1.7pc and South Korea 1.2pc. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.5pc even as some US states reported record new cases of Covid-19, a divergence that shows no sign of stopping.
EUROSTOXX 50 futures added 1.1pc and FTSE futures 0.8pc.
Coming up today
Andrew Bailey delivers speech on Libor