Weekly Client Update – Friday, 1st of April

‘Pubs open for Easter!’ was the surprise headline this week as Ministers announced on Tuesday that they were accelerating plans to reconnect. Islanders will be able to enjoy a Good Friday drink in a pub without the need to order food as drinks only seated service will be allowed. Establishments serving alcohol will also be able to extend their opening hours until 11.30pm and Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham said that he hoped to return to normal licensing hours from 12 April however this was dependent on further updated advice from STAC; The scientific and Technical Advisory Cell. The Jersey Hospitality association has urged islanders to work with management and staff of licensed premises and observe the 2 metre distancing over the Easter bank holiday.

Also physical-distancing requirements are to be replaced with Guidance from 12 April. Work from home will lapse, and restrictions relating to gatherings and sports events will also be eased. There will be no limit on spectators at sporting events from 12 April and also no limit on the size of gatherings at Weddings, funerals and theatre performances although masks will still have to be worn indoors. Care home residents can now have additional named visitors and there has been further amendments to visitor requirements, full details are available at gov.je/shielding

Lyndon Farnum said that he was delighted to see more of the local economy opening up again. Islanders will be able to enjoy the Easter break safely and within remaining guidelines he said. Chief Minister John Le Fondre added ’We can now afford to bring forward the relaxation of restrictions and look forward to further reconnection with confidence.

This is all in stark contrast to our nearby neighbours in France who, it was announced yesterday by President Macron, will enter into a country wide three week Lockdown from Easter Saturday onwards which includes an evening curfew of 7pm.

In Jersey the vaccination programme continues on track with over 50,000 islanders now having received their first vaccination with over a quarter having received their second dose. In Jersey there are 4 known active cases of Covid. Guernsey has no known active cases at this time.

This week the US warned it could put tariffs of up to 25% on a host of UK exports in retaliation for a UK tax on tech firms.

Ceramics, make-up, overcoats, games consoles and furniture could all be hit, The duties are designed to raise $325m (£235.8m), the amount the US believes the UK will raise from US tech firms. A UK government spokesperson said it wanted to “make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax”. They added: “Should the US proceed to implement these measures, we would consider all options to defend UK interests and industry.” Washington is pressing ahead with the action, initiated under President Donald Trump. It argues the recently introduced digital services tax – which taxes tech firms on their revenues – has “unreasonable, discriminatory, and burdensome attributes”.

New Luggage success but no where to go

Although aviation and hospitality industries have borne the brunt of the present crisis,  travel restrictions have had a huge knock-on effect on the retail landscape including the luxury goods Market.. One such brand is British luxury luggage company Globe-Trotter, known for its chic vintage-inspired trunks and carry-ons.  The company’s sales were down by a whopping 70% this time last year, but  three months into 2021 they have seen a dramatic turn round with double digit growth, so given that we have nowhere to pack for how did this happen? Well the company was acquired by Oakley Capital last spring just as the pandemic hit, so had to adapt quickly. They hatched a plan to enhance Globe-Trotter’s identity as a lifestyle brand with a multi-strand structure, combining its “old-world” glamour with an exciting sense of “newness” that encapsulates the uniting cultural and emotional experience of travel. In short, they simply upped the romance, selling the notion of escapism rather than the promise of real-time travel and it worked. This all goes to prove that those companies that have adopted have survived the pandemic and will be stronger after it.

Stocks and markets

European shares continued to rally on the last day of trading before the Easter break, as new US plans for massive infrastructure spending offset worries about a third Covid lockdown in France.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.44% in early trading with most major bourses higher. Wall Street stocks were on the rise overnight as US President Joe Biden unveiled a $2.3rtn spending plan on roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacture.

This spurred a rise in European chip companies including ASML, ASMI and Infineon Technologies and BE Semiconductor. The sector was also boosted by an upbeat revenue forecast from US chipmaker Micron Technology.

News that France was back in full lockdown hit retailers and travel stocks with catering companies Sodexo and Elior dropping almost 2%. Shares in UK fashion retailer Next rose 3% after the company lifted annual profits guidance on the back of soaring online sales in the first eight weeks of the current fiscal year while 2020/21 profits were halved due to the pandemic.

Property, mining, gambling stocks hold back UK100

The UK100 mirrored the SPX500 at the start of the week with a 0.1% daily loss. Property-linked stocks and mining stock were some of the main drags on the index. Housebuilder Persimmon fell 3.1% and engineering firm Smiths Group dropped 3%. At the top of the index, engineering company Renishaw turned in the best day, at +4.2%. The firm’s share price is around 50% higher than its high before the pandemic-induced crash early last year.

The past week has been a rollercoaster for oil prices as it plunged twice below $58 a barrel before climbing back above $61 a barrel.

While the JPN225 was down at the beginning of the week, both the China50 and HKG50 indices registered gains.

Chinese online learning platform GSX Techedu yesterday fell more than 18.5%, after plunging more than 40% on Friday. The losses are attributed to the recent SEC regulations, which impact Chinese companies traded on the US stock markets. The recent losses came despite CitiBank upgrading the stock from a “Sell” to a “Buy” rating.

The UK100 opened 22 points higher this week, with the GER30 up 51 points and the FRA40 14 points higher

And Finally

It is of course the 1st of April today, also known as April Fools’ Day, the day of pranks and practical jokes. On this day, companies often make hoax announcements. German car giant Volkswagen voiced regret Wednesday over a publicity stunt that duped major media outlets and was criticised by AFP, the world’s oldest news agency as a “breach of trust”. The outrage came after Volkswagen just a day earlier said in a press release it would be changing the name of its US subsidiary to “Voltswagen” to highlight its shift towards electric cars. Seems a perfectly good idea but timing is everything