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Today's markets: Return to business as usual, but not as we knew it, Apple update, Pearson benefits & more

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Today's markets: Return to business as usual, but not as we knew it, Apple update, Pearson benefits & more

Oscars in person

Lights, camera, action. The 93rd Academy Awards show took place last night, harking back to a time of pre-pandemic normality.

‘Nomadland’ was the biggest overall winner, with three Oscars including best picture. But it was a significant night for the streamers too. Amazon’s (US:AMZN) Prime Video service won two awards. And Netflix (US:NFLX), which only received its first nomination eight years ago, won seven accolades altogether on Sunday, including ‘Best cinematography’, ‘Best production design’ and ‘Best costume design’.

It has been a landmark year for the streaming companies in other ways, too. With the closure of cinemas under Covid-19 restrictions, several film houses have switched focus from theatrical debuts to the small screen. At the same time, questions have abounded about whether beleaguered cinema chains will enjoy revive ticket sales as restrictions ease.

That said, Netflix has shown signs of struggling to grow in an increasingly competitive market and amid virus uncertainty. The company’s shares stumbled last week after it missed on net subscriber add numbers and delivered soft second-quarter guidance.

The Oscars set-up was, inevitably, rather different this year. Unlike other recent awards ceremonies, stars were encouraged to attend in person rather than ‘dialling in’. But coronavirus restrictions still hampered a return to ‘show business as usual’. While most of the ceremony took place in Los Angeles, international venues were also used.

It’s no secret that the events industry has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic. Small wonder, perhaps, that cancellations pushed Informa (INF) into a pre-tax loss of more than £1bn last year.

Attempts at 'normality'

But there are glimmers of recovery beyond the Oscars. The Brit Awards are due to take place in front of a 4,000-strong live audience next month. Just yesterday, Manchester City beat Tottenham in the EFL Cup Final with 8,000 real-life spectators at Wembley stadium. This formed part of the UK government’s events research programme which explores how venues can welcome crowds back safely.

You can find our analysis of today’s developments below: