Official figures released this afternoon show that the UK death toll has increased by 338 in the last day bringing the total number of deaths to 36,042.

Figures released earlier today show the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK rose by 2,615 overnight, taking the total to 250,908.

Key Stories

  • This evening, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, led the Downing Street briefing – outlined below are the key points from the press conference:
    • Matt Hancock urged people to look after their mental health, as part of Mental Health Awareness week.
    • The UK has now carried out over three million tests for COVID-19.
    • Hancock said the Covid Alert Level is still at Level 4, but the country is "in a position" to start moving to Level 3.
  • The Government has agreed a deal with Roche to ensure anti-body tests for COVID-19 will be available on the NHS. Health and social care staff will be the first in line to receive the test. However, there have also been warnings about the use of anti-body tests being sold by retailers. Superdrug today launched an anti-body test for £69 with those who purchase the test taking a sample of blood at home and sending it off to a lab.
  • The Scottish Government has today announced a five phase plan for easing lockdown restrictions. The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has stated that the rules will come into force next week. She said a test, trace, isolate and support system - called Test and Protect - is being trialled and "will be a crucial tool in controlling the virus".
  • This afternoon, Downing Street announced a new Permanent Secretary with specific responsibility for COVID-19 had been appointed. Simon Case, the former Private Secretary to Theresa May, and Prince William has been appointed to the new role. The appointment of Case is likely to draw questions around the role of Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sedwill, who revealed last week he had suffered from COVID-19 without telling the public.
  • The UK’s economic downturn appears to be slowing down after figures released by the IHS Markit/Cips purchasing managers index. Whilst the figures showed some hope for the economy, it still suggested output was largely in a depressive state, but sentiment was starting to shift. The figures suggest that even with lockdown restrictions being lifted, a return to “normality” still could take some time.
  • A further 2.4m Americans listed for unemployment benefit for the first time last week taking the total of unemployed to 38.6m since the start of the crisis. The figures are likely to place pressure on President Trump and Congress to take further monetary fiscal action to help the US economy rebound.

Market Update

  • Global stocks slip as US-China tensions add to economic concerns
  • US pledge as much as $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca to help make the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine
  • Trading was relatively light with markets in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland closed
  • Oil gains for a sixth session after American stockpiles shrink
  • Eurozone flash PMI rebounded in May, though remains in contractionary territory
  • GBP/USD 1.22 -0.10%
  • Oil price (Brent) +0.73% to USD 36.01
  • Oil price (WTI) +0.48% to USD 33.65

UK market

  • The FTSE 100 closed down 0.86% at 6,015.25
  • The FTSE 250 closed up 0.11% at 16,385.96
  • The FTSE 350 closed down 0.70% at 3,353.28

US market at 1pm EST

  • The S&P 500 is down 0.52% at 2,956.06
  • Nasdaq is down 0.57% at 9,321.95
  • Dow Jones is up 1.52% at 24,575.90

FTSE 350 top performers

  • Puretech Health +9.44% at 255.00p
  • BMO Commercial Property Trust +8.13% at 66.50p

FTSE 350 bottom performers

  • Whitbread -13.44% at 2,461.00p
  • Inchcape -7.75% at 457.20p

Company announcements and sector news

Consumer/retail

  • Pets at Home pays dividend but warns on outlook
  • Mars sues Pret and Panera-owner JAB over ‘stolen’ trade secrets
  • On the Beach Group has announced a share placing alongside Covid-19 update

Financial services

  • American insurance policy comparison website SelectQuote raised $360m in its IPO
  • KKR is in advanced talks to buy a $1.5bn stake in the Indian company Jio Platforms

Industrials

  • EasyJet to resume flights next month
  • Carmaker McLaren clashes with bondholders over emergency financing
  • Giant Kazakhstan oilfield threatened by surge in coronavirus cases

TMT

  • Samsung has announced construction of an $8bn production line in South Korea for chips used in 5G, AI and high-performance computing
  • Indian ride-hailing business Ola is cutting 1,400 jobs in India, 35% of its home market workforce