What to watch: Rightmove sinks, market rout resumes on 'pandemic' fears

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Rightmove estate agent numbers fall. (Andrew Matthews/PA via Getty)

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

Rightmove shares sink as tenant fee ban hits estate agent numbers

Rightmove (RMV.L) saw 4.3% wiped off the value of its shares in early trading on Friday as it revealed a drop in estate agents using the platform.

The number of members selling via the leading property listing site dropped 3% in 2019. It said some estate agents had faced cashflow problems, blaming them on lengthening property transaction times and a government ban on tenant fees.

It anticipates further decline in the short term, as an uptick in the property market this year “may take some time” to trickle down into higher cash flow for its users.

But Rightmove still recorded strong growth, with revenue up 8% to £289.3m and operating profits up 8% to £213.7m. The figures were published in its annual financial report published on Friday.

Stocks fall again amid warnings of coronavirus’ ‘pandemic potential’

European stocks extended their losses on Friday as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the coronavirus outbreak had “pandemic potential,” with cases continuing to climb across the world.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX), which is set for its worst week in well over a decade, fell by more than 2.8% on Friday morning.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down by around 2.6% in London. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) plunged by more than 3.4%, while France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) fell by over 2.9%.

Global stocks are now in so-called “correction territory,” meaning that they have lost 10% since their recent all-time highs.

China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by 3.7%, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down 2.4% in Hong Kong at market close.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) fell by over 3.6%. The KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea, where there have been almost 2,300 cases, closed more than 3.3% down.

IAG and easyJet take hit from coronavirus

Top airlines on Friday warned the global outbreak of coronavirus is denting their business.

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), which owns British Airways and Iberia, and easyJet (EZJ.L) both said the epidemic was forcing them to cancel flights and leading to lower demand.

British Airways has already suspended flights to mainland China and IAG said Friday BA was reducing routes to Hong Kong and Seoul, South Korea.

UBS chief takes pay hit as bank income falls

The chief executive of Swiss bank UBS (UBSG.SW) saw his pay package fall by 11% last year, but still took home millions of Swiss francs.

UBS said in its annual report, published on Friday, that CEO Sergio Ermotti was paid SwFr 12.5m (£10m, $12.5m) in 2019. That figure includes both salary and bonuses and compared with a total take-home of SwFr 14.1m in 2018.

Ermotti’s basic salary and pension contributions were steady at SwFr 2.8m but bonus awards fell by 14% to SwFr 9.7m.

UBS’s remuneration committee largely praised Ermotti but noted the bank “did not fully deliver on growth and return targets, in particular in the Global Wealth Management and Investment Bank divisions”.

UBS’s income fell 3% in 2019 to $28.9bn and operating profit fell 7% to $5.5bn.

What to expect in the US

Futures are pointing to a sharply lower open for US stocks. S&P 500 futures (ES=F), Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM=F), and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) are down around 1.7%.