Boris Johnson announced the forced closure of pubs, bars and restaurants on Friday evening.

Calls are growing for some form of 'lockdown' (e.g. as seen in Italy) to slow down the spread of the virus further.

The FTSE is currently (7am) set to open down 4% at 4940.

More to follow.




The RNS feed is crazy today, I've never seen anything like it before.

Dozens of companies have felt the need to update the market with their latest situation, given the ongoing human, economic and financial calamity. Announcements today fall under a number of broad headings:

  • delayed results (per FCA guidance)
  • cancelled dividends or share buybacks
  • trading updates

I'm not sure where to begin so I will focus on those companies we have commented on before, to maintain continuity.

(This list is provisional.)

Extreme Uncertainty

In this extraordinary time, when vast swathes of economic activity have been cancelled, who would be an investor? It's impossible to predict what will happen in six weeks, let alone in six months.

And now the Financial Conduct Authority has made the strange decision to request "a moratorium on the publication of preliminary statements for at least two weeks".

I don't understand the rationale. If some companies feel unable to publish their statements, due to the rapidly changing situation, they are free to delay. I don't see why all companies should delay? Surely this will mean investors have even less information with which to make decisions?

The FCA says "the audit profession are facing unprecedented practical challenges during the Coronavirus crisis". That's probably true, too - but again, why does it mean that all companies should delay the publication of their preliminary statements?

Less information means that companies are worth even less, since we have to deal with even more uncertainty.

Having so little information to work with, and in a situation where the economic outlook is shrouded…

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