Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
Sports Direct owner warns on earnings over coronavirus
Fraser Group (FRAS.L), which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and other UK retailers, has warned investors it will not hit its earnings targets over the coronavirus outbreak.
It had previously expected growth of 5% to 15% in earnings growth in its financial year to 26 April. It said it is no longer giving formal guidance because of the scale of uncertainty.
“The board expects that Covid-19 will cause significant disruption to its business, including reducing customer footfall,” it said in an update on Friday.
Travis Perkins suspends dividends on ‘considerable disruption’ fears
The Travis Perkins Group (TPK.L) has suspended a final dividend payout to shareholders it had proposed earlier this month. It blamed current uncertainty levels and “considerable disruption” to the economy and particularly construction.
The planned Wickes de-merger will also be paused “in light of current extreme stock market volatility.”
It said it would cut costs if footfall drops or the government enforces a shutdown of stores, but said trading had “yet shown a significant sales impact” from the pandemic. Its brands Toolstation and Wickes had seen “solid trading” since the start of the year, sending its shares soaring more than 11%.
European stocks climbed on Friday as investors appraised the potential impact of government and central bank measures, hoping they will be enough to shield the global economy from a coronavirus-related recession.
Markets on Thursday reacted positively to new measures from both the ECB and Bank of England, while Norway’s central bank on Friday slashed its main interest rate by 75 basis points.
Meanwhile, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak is soon expected to announce a rescue plan to protect millions of jobs, including an employment and wage subsidy package.
What to expect in the US
Futures were also pointing to a higher open for US stocks, after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced a fund that will provide loans to financial institutions that buy assets from prime money market funds.