City of London
Whitbread slides after sinking to £1bn loss
Shares in Whitbread have fallen 2pc in early trading after the Premier Inn owner sank to a mammoth £1bn loss.
The company said the loss was due to the vast majority of its estate being forced to shut for much of the first six months of the financial year ending February 25.
Recent lockdowns have also hit the business, with occupancy levels at just 23pc in January and 29pc in February.
But bosses are hopeful that a boom in “staycation” bookings will help the company recover this summer, with business travel and event-led stays coming back to the sector later in the year.
They added that structural advantages – from rivals and smaller independents going bust – could also help future growth.
FTSE opens higher
The FTSE 100 has opened slightly higher after some robust first-quarter corporate results offset concerns about the risks to growth from spiking Covid-19 cases in parts of the globe.
European market data – Bloomberg
Oil price recovery powers BP
Oil giant BP has swung to a mammoth $ 3.3bn (£2.4bn) profit in the first three months of the year from losses a year ago thanks to “significantly” higher oil prices.
The turnaround compares with losses of £452m a year earlier when the coronavirus struck and sent the price of crude plummeting.
On an underlying basis, BP’s replacement cost profits – the group’s preferred measure – surged to £1.9bn in the three months to March 31 from £569m a year earlier.
BP said: “This result was driven by an exceptional gas marketing and trading performance, significantly higher oil prices and higher refining margins.”
HSBC beats expectations
HSBC has beaten analyst expectations to post a pre-tax profit of £4.18bn in the first quarter – up 79pc on the same period last year.
The London-headquartered HSBC surpassed a forecast of a profit of £2.41bn from independent analysis the bank had compiled.
Revenue fell 5pc to £9.37bn, with the bank adding this was due to the impact of 2020 interest rate reductions in global businesses.
Europe’s largest lender said all regions were profitable in the first quarter, with its UK arm reporting a pre-tax profit of £720m. Read more here.
Market rally falters
Good morning. Markets have stumbled a little this morning after Wall Street closed on another fresh high. Asian markets were mixed while the FTSE 100 was tipped to open fractionally lower ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting later.
5 things to start your day
1) Tesla posts biggest ever profit after record electric car sales Company books $ 110m profit on sale of Bitcoin bought just months earlier
2) Fresh blow for SFO as Serco tagging trial collapses Two former executives have been found not guilty after the Serious Fraud Office admits to ‘errors’ in disclosing materials for trial
3) Covid triggers surge in virtual ‘presenteeism’ Employees working from home are working even when they’re ill
4) Spotify to raise prices for families and students Hikes come as Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek is expected to make £1.8bn bid for Arsenal football club
5) Sanctions and food shortages raise fears of North Korean famine Ratings agency Fitch warns the country is facing its harshest economic slump in decades
What happened overnight
Asian shares fell and US stock futures were steady on Tuesday as caution ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting and a slew of corporate earnings offset growing optimism about the global economic recovery from the Covid blow.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.14pc. Australian stocks dropped 0.51pc, but shares in China were little changed. Stocks in Tokyo edged 0.11pc lower.
S&P 500 e-mini stock futures rose 0.07pc.
Oil rebounded in Asian trading after major oil producers stood by their demand forecasts, but there are still downside risks due to surging Covid cases in India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer.
Analysts said some investors may be taking profits on equities, but sentiment remains positive due to rising coronavirus vaccination rates in many countries.
Despite the hopeful signs, a bullish session on Wall Street failed to inspire Asian markets. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs on Monday, fuelled by heavyweight growth stocks ahead of a deluge of earnings reports this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.18pc lower.
Coming up today
Corporate: Whitbread, Aveva (Full-year); HSBC, IWG, BP (Interims)
Economics: Consumer confidence, GDP, housing price index (US)