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Markets Today: Businesses prepare for big reopening

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Markets Today: Businesses prepare for big reopening
  • Retail and hospitality reopens in England 
  • Netflix thrives at Bafta while BBC deals with more criticism
  • David Cameron responds to Greensill scandal 
  • Microsoft eyes AI acquisition as another tech company looks for London listing
  • Companies news: Hammerson disposal, Astra failure

Welcome to the IC live blog on reopening day - the long awaited date for the removal of some restrictions in England which will see non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality open its doors for the first time since December. 

But reopening under the continued shadow of Covid-19 will also be a big test. Companies in the hospitality space have seen their balance sheets stretched to breaking point by lockdown. Only two in five hospitality venues have outdoor space and many have had to invest significantly in innovative ways to serve guests outdoors. They are now facing the challenge of pitting safety against profits - will social distancing regulations make it too difficult for these businesses to function as they used to? 

Read more about the outlook for hospitality here:

Fuller Smith & Turner taps shareholders for funds

Beverage companies rue a lack of hospitality

Wetherspoon chairman takes aim - everywhere

The retail arena is facing the problem of a permanent change to shopping habits. The pandemic has sent people online, will they come back? Yes, judging by the 7am queues outside Primark on Oxford Street this morning. But not all stores command the same affection from their customers. 

Read more about the outlook for retail here:

Alpha: The investment cases for ASOS and Next

Asos profits triple as it plans to invest in international growth

Next and the great e-commerce ‘shove’

Can JD Sports survive the threat of direct-to-consumer shopping?

As the UK continues its gradual reopening, spending in the US is happening at pace. Joe Biden’s stimulus cheques are intended to help the country get back on its feet after the financial shadow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But could there be unwanted side effects? Denmark’s Saxo Bank thinks so. Mark Robinson has examined the investment bank’s analysis here. 

Time for the FCA to crack down on platform transfers?

When Mary McDougall wrote about Hargreaves Lansdown a few weeks ago, and said that its 93 per cent client retention rate suggested its customers were happy, someone wrote to her offering an alternative explanation: “Basically they are so obstructive that it is very hard to get out.”

Pursuing the matter, Mary writes, the reader might have a point. Except this is not just a problem with Hargreaves. The transfer process across a number of platforms is too often far below any reasonable expectation. Read Mary’s full story here.

Read more about this morning's top news stories in our blog below.