China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks rose 0.5 percent in early trading on Wednesday, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 0.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively. Hong Kong’s stock market was closed for a public holiday. The FT reported Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, which is a measure of factory activity, came in at 51.2 for June, marking its second straight month of growth. Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said this gave fresh hope of economic recovery amid the pandemic.
Wall Street’s S&P 500 closed 1.5 per cent higher.
Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1.9 percent.
Wall Street’s S&P 500 is expected to open 0.2 percent lower when US trading opens today.
London’s FTSE 100 could slip 0.1 per cent.
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FTSE 100 LIVE: Global stocks climbed on last first day of quarter
11am update: John Lewis to shut shops as the UK high street faces turmoil
Sharon White, the chair of the chain, issued a statement to the Evening Standard saying: “The difficult reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now.
“As difficult as it is, we now know that it is highly unlikely that we will reopen all our John Lewis stores.
“Regrettably, it is likely that there will implications for some Partners’ jobs.
“We are in active discussions with landlords about ending some leases and renegotiating others to make the terms more flexible.”
10.45am update: UK economy faces “steep climb to recovery”
An expert has warned the UK economy will face a steep climb to recovery amid the looming recession.
Ratings agency S&P warned the economy could shrink 8.1pc in 2020, before returning to a moderate pace of 6.5pc next year.
The group’s analyst said: “We no longer assume the post-Brexit transition period will be extended, but expect the UK and EU will strike a core free trade deal starting 2021.
“The switch to this regime would dampen the rebound in 2021 and slow growth in the following years.”
10.30am update: Virgin Money will resume plans to axe 300 jobs
Virgin Money has announced it will resume plans to shut or merge 52 brances and axe up to 300 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis.
As of August, the group will start shutting 22 branches by merging iunto nearby sites as well as rebradning all Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank branches.
The group said the immediate job cuts are still 200 fewer than previously announced and they will offer staff affected by closures to remain with the group until October 20 to offer support to vulnerable customers.
Lucy Dimes, group business transformation officer at Virgin Money UK, said: “While the decision to recommence these redundancies and branch closures has not been taken lightly, we are committed to integrating Virgin Money under one brand as a sustainable, innovative business that invests in improving its customer offer for the future.
“The measures we’ve put in place during the lockdown will continue to help customers engage with alternative and improved ways of banking with us.”
9.47am update: UK’s manufacturing sector returns to razor-thin growth
As the economy begins to stabilise following the deadly outbreak of coronavirus, the UK’s manufacturing sector has recorded a score of 50.1 in June, which is up from 40.7 May.
According to the IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purhcing manager’s index (PMI), anything above 50 is considered an expansion in the sector.
Compared to other European countries, the UK and France (52.3) are the only ones above 50.
Germany recorded 45.2, Italy 47.5 and Spain 49.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma
9.38am update: UK house prices slowed to a halt in June
According to latest figures from Nationwide found due to the pandemic, UK house price growth slowed to almost a halt throughout June.
The latest house price index revealed prices had fallen 1.4pc in June, leaving them just 0.05pc year-on-year.
Robert Gardiner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “It is unsurprising that annual house price growth has stalled, given the magnitude of the shock to the economy as a result of the pandemic…
“Housing market activity also slowed sharply as a result of lockdown measures implemented to control the spread of the virus.”
9am update: Business Secretary Alok Sharma says reopening the economy is the best way to help businesses
Last month, non-essential shops were given the green light to reopen and as of July 4, cinemas and pubs will be allowed to continue business as long as they are “Covid secure”.
However, many people have raised concerns about a second wave of the deadly virus, but Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, has said today reopening the economy is the best way to help businesses.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The support in the job retention scheme is being provided until October.
“But the best way of providing support for business is to open up the economy, and we have been doing that in a phased and cautious manner.”
8.45am update: Upper Crust, British Gas, Royal Mail, easyJet and British Airways suggest further job cuts
As the pandemic continues to sweep across the nation, companies have suggested further job cuts are expected.
Since lockdown measures were placed in March travel and entertainment companies in the FTSE 250 have taken the biggest hit.
Cineworld is down 72.5 percent, Carnival down 73 percent and one of the world’s largest tour operators TUI falling 61.6 percent.
Now, early indicators for May from the Office of National Statistics suggested the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down over 600,000 compared with March.
And it appears more job cuts are expected.
SSP, the owner of bakery chain Upper Crust, could axe up to 5,000 jobs.
Simon Smith, SSP’s chief executive, told The Telegraph: “In the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow.
“In response to this, we are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations.
“Regrettably, we are starting a collective consultation which will affect our UK colleagues.
“These are extremely difficult decisions, and our main priority will be to conduct the process carefully and fairly.”
Sainsbury’s reports increase in shares in lockdown
8.30am update: FTSE 100 drops by 18.2 percent in six months
According to PA, the FTSE opened the year at 7,542.44 on January 2 and closed on June 30 at 6,169.74, marking a drop of 18.2 percent in just six months.
The figure dipped under the 5,000-point barrier on March 23 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown.
The FTSE 250 index also suffered a dramatic loss.
Starting the year at 21,883.40, it has since suffered a 21.7 percent fall to close on Tuesday at 17,119.16.
8.25am update: Sainsbury’s report increase in shares during lockdown
The supermarket has reported an 8.2pc rise in like-for-like sales during its first quarter, to the end of June.
Simon Roberts, the group’s new chief executive, said: “Our business has changed fundamentally from four months ago.
“We have more than doubled our weekly sales of online groceries in recent weeks, SmartShop [it’s ‘scan on the go’ service] now accounts for more than half of sales in some supermarkets and Argos sales were strong while operating as an online-only business for almost twelve weeks.
“Warm weather boosted food sales and sales in seasonal categories in Argos, but sales of clothing and fuel and trading in city centre convenience stores were all significantly down year on year as a result of lockdown.”
The supermarket saw grocery sales increased by 10.5pc during the period while other merchandise shot up by 7.2pc.
However, clothing plummeted by 26.7pc.
8.16am update: European stock markets open flat
The European stock markets have opened on flat.
The FTSE 100 has opened in green with a slight increase of 0.06 percent increase.
Madrid IBEX 35 has also risen by 0.13 percent.
The CAC 40 was down by just 0.01 percent.
7.55am update: European stocks expected to slip as concerns grow about COVID-19 in the US
The FTSE 100 and European markets are likely to slip during opening hours amid concerns about the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the US.
Last week, Florida and Texas both had to return to strict lockdown measures as the number of cases shot up.
The US government’s top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci warned cases could rise to 100,000 a day.
7am update: Steven Brown takes over from Rachel Russell
6.14am: Asia’s factory pain eases as region emerges from pandemic
Asia’s factory pain showed signs of easing in June, as a rebound in China’s activity offered some hope the region may have passed the worst of the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
But sluggish global demand and fears of a second wave of infections will tame any optimism on the outlook and keep pressure on policymakers to support their ailing economies.
China’s factory activity grew at a faster clip in June after the government lifted coronavirus lockdown measures, a private sector survey showed on Wednesday.
Manufacturing activity also expanded in Vietnam and Malaysia, pointing to a slow but steady recovery ahead.
Japan and South Korea continued to see manufacturing activity shrink, underscoring the heavy blow the pandemic dealt to their export-reliant economies, although the pace of their declines slowed.
“The chance of a V-shape recovery in the manufacturing sector appears slim at this stage,” said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
“We’re still awaiting signs of meaningful improvement in Japan’s manufacturing sector, with the PMI for June failing to stage a substantial recovery.”