Mixed International Markets
The DJ30, SPX500 and NASDAQ were all looking good yesterday, with Facebook pushing the SPX500 and NASDAQ100 higher with a daily gain of 7.3% – an all-time high. DISH Network led the SPX500 with an 8.3% gain. DISH stock is now up more than 20% in the past month, and more than 50% over the past three months. Ford was one of the big SPX500’s names that fell by more than 6% yesterday.
eBay’s shares went down by more than 10% after it delivered its update, as its growth rate appears to be trending back to normal after a boost from the pandemic. Amazon, enjoyed a 3% plus share price increase in after-hours trading following its earnings release. In Q1 2021, Amazon’s sales were 44% higher than Q1 2020, and growth seems to be continuing.
Yesterday, for the second time in seven days, the UK100 remained static. At the top of the index, bank Standard Chartered and medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew both turned in 5% plus daily gains. NatWest Group and information analytics firm RELX, both fell by around 3% after they released quarterly earnings. For its part, Standard Chartered, which is focused on Asia, reported a record quarter from its wealth management arm. NatWest also beat expectations, but investors may have been put off by a warning that a money laundering case the bank is facing could lead to significant costs.
Cryptos are mostly higher with Binance Coin and XRP in the lead, climbing 10%, whilst Bitcoin is still trading around $54,000. Oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron will both deliver quarterly earnings today, with each sitting on a 25% plus share price gain in 2021 so far. While yesterday, Black gold was still holding above $64. The FTSE 100 blue-chip index has made a positive start to the day ahead of the Budget statement, climbing 75 points to rise 1.14% to at 6,689.
Concerns about lifting lockdown restrictions
The UK still plans to lift restrictions on Britons’ movements as of the 17th of May and start opening borders to allow for foreign travel, and although this is a huge reason to celebrate, some people are bracing themselves for the consequences. Healthrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye has said that Border Force needs to ‘get a grip’ of arrival checks before lockdown is eased.
His main concern is that the UK’s Border Force will not be able to handle the additional COVID checks if all foreign travel resumes on the set date. With the sudden influx of travellers into airports and having to implement the new COVID checks, things might not run as smoothly as passengers would like.
More concern about the lifting of restrictions was shared by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change – albeit for different reasons. They feel that Ministers should consider a delay to the final easing of lockdown restrictions on the 21st of June, unless a slowdown in the coronavirus vaccination programme can be reversed. Their recommendation is that the dropping of all restrictions on social contact, should be delayed until the summer school holidays, when transmission rates are expected to be lower. A new report shows that this delay could save an estimated 15000 lives.
Cutting foreign aid
Boris Johnson continues to make questionable decisions. The latest being the cut of the aid-spending target to 0.5% of the national income from 0.7%. This is of course in breach of a manifesto pledge and a legal requirement. His argument is that it is necessary due to the negative effect the pandemic has had on Britain’s economy. The counter argument by development officials is that this decision is not only morally wrong, but extremely short-sighted.
UK, US and Norway join forces
Following on from last week’s update, it appears that the UK has not lost momentum in fulfilling its role to protect the planet. Alongside the US and Norwegian governments, the UK is part of a $1bn fundraising joint initiative to support the world’s tropical rainforests as part of a bid to tackle deforestation and reduce harmful emissions in the atmosphere by 2030.
The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (Leaf) Coalition was unveiled at US president Joe Biden’s virtual White House climate summit on Earth Day last week and with the aim of harnessing public-private financing to secure investment in safeguarding the natural world.