London’s FTSE 100 rallied 1% to 5,649.56 on Thursday as hopes increased that the coronavirus outbreak was peaking across Europe.

In Asian trading Japan’s Nikkei 225 was off 1.4% while in China the SSE was up 0.3%.

Brent crude oil was 1.7% lower at $27.5 and gold prices were 0.4% firmer at $1,722. The pound was 0.2% lower against the US dollar at $1.25.

Budget airline EasyJet (EZY) said it expected the first-half headline pre-tax loss for the period ended 31 March to be narrower amid efforts to cut costs. The company withdrew guidance for the rest of the year, but added that bookings for winter were ‘well ahead’ of the equivalent point last year.

The company said it expected a pre-tax headline loss in the range of £185m to £205m, compared with a loss of £275m on-year. The shares ascended 8.6% to 655p.

International exhibitions and information services group Informa (INF) rallied 0.8% to 419p after it issued new shares worth around 20% of its existing capital and suspended the dividend in efforts to shore-up its finances. The proposed placing will increase total liquidity to £2.3bn.

The company has had constructive discussions with lenders and applied to the Bank of England’s corporate financing facility.

Investment firm Schroders (SDR) reported total assets under management (AUM) fell to £470.5bn at the end of the first quarter of 2020, as group chief executive Peter Harrison pledged not to furlough any employees or enact any redundancy programmes.

Total AUM was down from £500.2bn at 31 December 2019, while the solutions business ended March 2020 with higher AUM, at £157.7bn compared to £142.8bn at the end of 2019.

The shares lifted 4% to £25.

Shares in rat catcher Rentokil (RTO) were 3.5% higher at 305p after it reported a rise in group revenue in the first three months of 2020 and said it has drawn down funds from the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) as part of steps to conserve cash.

The company said it has identified over £100m of cost savings from salary reductions for the board and senior management grades, reduction of the CEO's Q2 salary by 35%, measures including furloughs and other government-funded job protection schemes, lay-offs and salary and hours reductions.

Engineering software group AVEVA (AVV) said it had a satisfactory close to the financial year ended 31 March 2020 with revenue growth expected to be 9% and recurring revenues exceeding the medium-term target of 60%.

The group withheld the decision to pay the final dividend until it reports full-year numbers in early June. The shares rallied 1.6% to £35.5.

Digital services company Kainos (KNOS) said trading continued with positive momentum. Full-year results will be released on 26 May, and are expected to be in-line with current market expectations. The shares rallied 3% to 690p.

International consumer products group PZ Cussons (PZC) reported a decline in revenue during the third quarter of 2020, albeit at a reduced rate compared to the first half of the year as its key markets were hit by consumer fragility and Covid-19.

The company said its full-year profit guidance remained within consensus range, albeit at the lower end, while its balance sheet remained strong. The shares drifted 1.5% to 177p.

Specialist emerging markets fund manager Ashmore Group (ASHM) reported a first-quarter 22% fall in assets under management to $76.8bn from $98.4bn, reflecting negative investment performance of $18bn and net outflows of 43.6bn. The shares fell 0.7% to 332p.


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Issue Date: 16 Apr 2020