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What to Watch: JP Morgan CEO has heart surgery, market slide continues, and Cineworld not hit by COVID-19

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon testifies before the House Financial Services Committee during a hearing, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

JP Morgan CEO has emergency surgery

JP Morgan (JPM) chief executive Jamie Dimon underwent emergency heart surgery on Thursday morning, according to an internal memo first reported by Reuters and seen by Yahoo Finance UK.

Dimon “experienced an acute aortic dissection” on Thursday morning, the memo said, but it was caught early and Dimon is "awake, alert and recovering well" after a successful surgery.

Daniel Pinto, head of JP Morgan’s corporate and investment bank, and Gordon Smith, head of its consumer bank, co-authored the memo. The pair will take charge of the bank while Dimon recovers from surgery.

“We know you all join us in wishing Jamie our very best and a smooth and speedy recovery,” the pair wrote in the memo.

A JP Morgan spokesperson declined to comment.

Dimon, who is also chairman of the bank, is one of the most recognisable chief executives in the world. He has been in charge of JP Morgan, America’s largest bank, since 2005 and is the chairman of the Business Roundtable, the group representing US industry interests.

Markets continue to slide

Stocks continued to slide around the world on Friday, amid fears about the spread of coronavirus and its economic fallout.

US markets closed down over 3% on Thursday night and the sell-off spread to Asia. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed down 2.7%, the Hang Seng (^HSI) in Hong Kong dropped 2.3%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) in China lost 1.2%.

The global risk-off sentiment prompted a lower open in Europe. The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) slipped by 2%, the German Dax (^GDAXI) was down 1.6%, and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) in France fell 1.5%.

“Following renewed selling on Wall Street last night, Asia, Europe and UK stocks traded lower on Friday as markets remained very fearful about the economic and social impact of the coronavirus,” said Russ Mould, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell.

“Sovereign bonds were in hot demand. The US 10-year Treasury yield fell to 0.81% as investors who are seeking safety in falling markets showed a ferocious appetite for government bonds, pushing up their price (and pushing down the yield). The US 30-year Treasury yield also slid below 1.5% for the first time.”

US markets looked set for a continued slide. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were down 1%, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were off 0.9%, while Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were 1% lower.

There have now been over 98,600 cases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 3,300 deaths worldwide.

Cineworld not hit by COVID-19

Cinema chain Cineworld (CINE.L) has reassured investors that the coronavirus epidemic is not yet affecting its business.

Cineworld said in a statement on Friday it had “not observed any material impact on our movie theatre admissions due to COVID-19.”

The release of the latest James Bond movie was recently delayed due to coronavirus but Cineworld said “the studios have advised us that in the countries in which we operate, they currently remain committed to their release schedule for the coming months and remainder of the year.”

“There can be no certainty as to the future impact of COVID-19,” the company said. “We are however taking measures to ensure that we prepare our business for all possible eventualities.

“Should conditions relating to COVID-19 continue or worsen, we have measures at our disposal to reduce the impact on our business including, but not limited to, capex postponement and cost reduction.”

Cineworld released unaudited results alongside the update, saying revenue came in at $4.3bn (£3.3bn) for 2019 and earnings stood at $1bn. Full results are due next week.

Shares in Cineworld fell 7.5%.

JP Morgan splits up staff as precaution

JP Morgan (JPM) has begun putting in place emergency risk management measures in London, amid fears about a possible coronavirus outbreak.

Sales and trading staff in the US bank’s markets team were told in a memo on Thursday that staff would be split between different offices from Monday.

JP Morgan executives said the decision was a “precautionary measure” to limit the number of possible infections in an outbreak. The split will also ensure the bank can continue to operate without disruption if there is an outbreak.

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