March 20, 2020 / 7:46 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 20

(Adds FTSE futures move, company news items)

March 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 58 points higher on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 4%.

* INCHCAPE: UK’s Inchcape on Friday suspended its 150 million pound ($176.04 million) share buyback programme launched last month, citing the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic.

* TRAVIS PERKINS: Travis Perkins, Britain’s biggest building materials group, said on Friday it was putting the separation of its Wickes home improvement unit on hold and suspending its full-year dividend, citing extreme market volatility due to the coronavirus pandemic.

* J D WETHERSPOON: Pub operator J D Wetherspoon on Friday cancelled its dividend and said it expects profits below market expectations as long as the coronavirus crisis continues.

* IHG: Holiday Inn owner IHG said on Friday demand for hotels was currently at the lowest levels it had ever seen, announcing a series of measures to cut costs and ride out the worldwide shutdowns and travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus.

* CMC MARKETS: Trading platform CMC Markets on Friday upgraded its annual earnings targets for the fourth time in less six months, as the frantic selling driven by the coronavirus drove huge rises in financial market volatility and trading volumes.

* M&S: British retailer Marks & Spencer said on Friday trading over the next 9-12 months in its clothing and homewares and international businesses was likely to be “severely impacted” by the coronavirus.

* HEATHROW: Britain’s Heathrow Airport said it would shrink its operation as part of a plan to keep open for some cargo and passenger flights during the coronavirus crisis, which has brought most air travel to a standstill.

* BOE: The Bank of England said on Friday it was cancelling this year’s stress test of eight major banks and building societies to enable them to focus on providing lending through the coronavirus crisis.

* BRITISH AIRWAYS: British Airways pilots will face a 50% pay cut to their basic salary for April and May, as the airline seeks to reduce its cost to try and survive the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

* BRITISH AIRWAYS: British Airways planes could be seen parked up at London’s Heathrow Airport on Thursday, as the airline begins the process of grounding a large part of its fleet.

* ECONOMY: Britain will take further desperate measures to stem the collapse of its economy on Friday, when finance minister Rishi Sunak will outline plans to prop up companies and workers who face hardship from the coronavirus outbreak.

* CITY AM: London-based City AM newspaper will temporarily suspend its print operation as the publishing industry faces the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

* CARNIVAL: Carnival Corp on Thursday reported first-quarter loss compare with a year-ago profit, hurt by canceled and disrupted trips due to the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

* BP: Oil major BP said on Thursday it is not experiencing “any serious disruption” to its operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

* CORONAVIRUS: The prime ministers of Ireland and Britain agreed in a phone call on Thursday to align in so far as possible the neighbouring countries actions to help slow the spread of coronavirus, a spokesman for the Irish government said.

* BOE: The Bank of England promised 200 billion pounds of bond purchases and cut its key interest rate to 0.1% in a second emergency move in just over a week to try to mitigate the hit to Britain’s economy from the coronavirus outbreak.

* GOLD: Gold prices rose 1% as safe-haven buying offset a rush for cash amid fears over the economic hit from the coronavirus, but bullion was headed for a second weekly drop as investors sold the metal to meet margin calls in other assets.

* COPPER: London copper prices fell sharply, erasing gains made late in the previous session, as the coronavirus-driven sell-off resumed despite growing economic stimulus across the globe.

* OIL: U.S. crude oil prices rose over $1, extending steep gains from the previous session, after U.S. President Donald Trump hinted he may intervene in the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia at an “appropriate time”.

* Britain’s top shares ended a volatile session higher on Thursday after the Bank of England cut interest rates to a record low and ramped up its bond-buying programme in a bid to rescue the economy from the coronavirus crisis.

TODAY’S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines (Reporting by Shanima A and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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