Official figures released this afternoon show that the UK death toll has increased by 363 in the last day bringing the total number of deaths to 35,704.

The latest number of infections was not available at 5pm.

Key Stories

  • This evening Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden took the Downing Street press conference. Outlined below are some of the key points:
    • The Government yesterday conducted its largest number of tests to date, 177,216.
    • The UK is currently at level four, meaning the epidemic is still in general circulation and transmission is high.
    • The public have raised around £800m in fundraising campaigns since the start of the pandemic.
    • The next review of Government restrictions will be on 28th May.
  • The Government has confirmed that not all state schools will open on 1st June. The return of schools is dependent on an effective track and trace system being in place, and although the Government has hired 25,000 people to support its tracing of the virus, the app that will support this will be delayed beyond 1st June. Furthermore, 11 councils (including some Conservative-led authorities) have refused to reopen schools from 1st June as they do not feel it is safe to do so.
  • It has been reported that public health officials failed to tell care home operators about the infection rate in the sector through March and April, despite knowledge of the R rate increasing. It has also been claimed that some care home operators have complained that they have come under pressure from NHS staff to take hospital patients who had not been tested for coronavirus.
  • The Government has today sold negative yield bonds for the first time. £3.8bn of three year gilts were sold at -0.003%. The sale of the bonds comes as the Bank of England is looking into following Japan and the European Central Bank in introducing negative interest rates.
  • The Conservative Party is reportedly looking into cutting its Head Office operations after a halt in funding as a result of the coronavirus. The Party already has existing plans to decentralise its operations into the regions as part of its levelling up agenda, but COVID-19 may accelerate these plans. The news comes after it cut its paid Deputy Chairman roles yesterday.

Market Update

  • US stocks rise, FTSE reverses initial losses as investors weigh up doubts over potential vaccine trials and the easing of lockdowns worldwide
  • UK joins Japan and Germany as it sells government bonds with negative yield for first time
  • EU’s Michel Barnier says UK has “no automatic entitlement to any benefits that the EU may have offered” to other partners
  • Nasdaq reached its highest point since mid-February
  • GBP/USD 1.23 +0.09%
  • Oil price (Brent) +2.94% to USD 35.67
  • Oil price (WTI) +3.91% to USD 33.21

UK market

  • The FTSE 100 closed up 1.08% at 6,067.16
  • The FTSE 250 closed up 0.29% at 16,367.48
  • The FTSE 350 closed up 0.95% at 3,376.84

US market at 1pm EST

  • The S&P 500 is up 1.85% at 2,976.92
  • Nasdaq is up 2.17% at 9,383.98
  • Dow Jones is up 1.69% at 24,615.24

FTSE 350 top performers

  • Hyve Group +13.89% at 16.56p
  • Marks & Spencer +10.77% at 95.04p

FTSE 350 bottom performers

  • PPHE -8.04% at 1,030p
  • McCarthy & Stone -7.94% at 63.80p

Company announcements and sector news

Consumer/retail

  • US retailer Target reported revenues up 11.3% to $19.6bn in Q1, digital sales climb 141%
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals jumped 9% after the company shared positive news about its Covid-19 DNA vaccine

Financial services

  • Aviva and QBE face lawsuit from Hospitality Insurance Group Action, formed of leisure companies denied Covid pay-outs
  • Morgan Stanley launches wealth management business in Canada

Industrials

  • Norwegian air drops 30% following recapitalisation that sees lessors AerCap and Bank of China owned BOC Aviation become largest shareholders
  • ONS says property values rose by 2.1 per cent in the year to March