Official figures released this afternoon show that the UK death toll has increased by 545 in the last day bringing the total number of deaths to 35,341.

Figures released earlier today show the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK rose by 2,412 overnight, taking the total to 248,818.

Key Stories

  • Environment Secretary George Eustice led the daily Government briefing this afternoon.
    • Eustice detailed the efforts DEFRA are taking to support this year’s harvest throughout the pandemic.
    • He said every year large numbers of migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania arrive in the UK to pick the harvest. A third of these workers are already here and a small number were expected to travel but British workers would be relied upon for help.
    • He encouraged Britons to take up a second job, particularly those who are furloughed, and do their part in the crisis.
    • He mentioned the newly launched Pick for Britain job website and urged those who were interested to apply for jobs here.
  • The number of people claiming unemployment benefits reached 2.1 million in April, up by a 856,500, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned it was not obvious there will be an immediate bounce back for the UK economy. “We're likely to face a severe recession, the likes of which we have not seen, and of course that will have an impact on unemployment,” he told a House of Lords committee today. New figures also showed the number of job vacancies fell by nearly a quarter to 637,000 in the three months to April.
  • The Government is still planning to repatriate over 20,000 Britons who are stranded overseas. Both commercial routes and charter flights will be used to help bring residents back to the UK, two months after the lockdown began. Anyone returning will have to self-isolate for 14-days when they land, aligning with the enforcement of the blanket restrictions on all arrivals.
  • Ministers are reportedly considering an extra bank holiday in October after the idea was floated by tourism trade body Visit Britain. Speaking in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Visit Britain’s strategy director Patricia Yates said the tourism industry had lost the advantage of two bank holidays this month due to the lockdown. She said an extra bank holiday in October would allow the industry to extend the season.
  • Professor Martin Green of Care England has criticised the Government’s failure to do more to protect thousands of elderly people in care homes during the pandemic. Green said care home residents should have been prioritised from the beginning – and warned there were still problems with PPE and testing in many care homes. His comments came as new figures suggested over 11,600 people have died from the virus in care homes.
  • Members of the World Health Organization have agreed to launch an inquiry into the response to the coronavirus pandemic around the world. The inquiry will also look into the Organisation’s own role in tackling the crisis. The new inquiry comes after the WHO faced criticism that it was too slow in declaring a global health emergency.

Market Update

  • Market rally stalls as investors assess pace of economic recovery
  • Nasdaq to tighten requirements for companies seeking to list
  • UK jobless claims rose by 856.5k in April (compared to 5.4k in March)
  • Despite soft lockdown, Sweden’s finance minister says its economy will shrink 7% this year
  • GBP/USD 1.22 +0.36%
  • Oil price (Brent) -0.69% to USD 34.57
  • Oil price (WTI) +1.73% to USD 32.37

UK market

  • The FTSE 100 closed down 0.77% at 6,002.23
  • The FTSE 250 closed up 0.55% at 16,320.08
  • The FTSE 350 closed down 0.55% at 3,345.00

US market at 1pm EST

  • The S&P 500 is up 0.05% at 2,955.29
  • Nasdaq is up 0.60% at 9,289.95
  • Dow Jones is up 3.85% at 24,597.37

FTSE 350 top performers

  • Hyve Group +11.16% at 14.54p
  • Hochschild Mining +9.89% at 198.90p

FTSE 350 bottom performers

  • Greencore -7.15% at 140.30p
  • Imperial Brands -6.50% at 1,545.50p

Company announcements and sector news

Consumer/retail

  • US retailer Walmart said “unprecedented demand” for essential products had delivered a 10% increase in sales in the last quarter
  • Amazon is in talks to buy bankrupt JC Penney’s entire 846 store estate
  • UK Fashion wholesale agencies and distributors are calling to be included in the business rates grant and relief schemes

Financial services

  • In a memo to staff, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon highlighted that the bank has lent over $30bn to more than 250,000 businesses as part of the United States’ coronavirus aid programme. Dimon also said that the coronavirus pandemic must serve as a “wake-up call” to build a fairer society
  • Citigroup is launching a new business unit dedicated to environmental sustainability

Industrials

  • EasyJet reveals cyber-attack exposed 9m customers' details, adding that there is “heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams” as a result of COVID-19
  • Ovo Energy, Britain’s second biggest energy supplier, is to cut 2,600 jobs and close offices as the coronavirus lockdown drives more customer services online
  • German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp to shrink radically by shedding businesses in drive to survive

TMT

  • YouTube says people are watching instructional videos more than ever as they seek new skills during lockdown
  • Disney’s head of streaming, Kevin Mayer, has been appointed CEO of short-form video app TikTok