It comes after Asian shares climbed to a one-month high on Thursday, as renewed hopes for more US stimulus helped restore investor confidence. Markets now pricing in a Democratic victory during elections in November. Polls suggest Joe Biden is likely to win over a number of states following the presidential debates. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent for its fourth straight session of gains to a level not seen since early September.

Australia’s benchmark index jumped 1.1 percent to a one-month high helped by a larger-than-expected fiscal stimulus announced in federal budget on Tuesday night.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.5 percent.

“It’s another good day for risk and equities have powered up,” Pepperstone strategist Chris Weston told Reuters. 

“Some talk of fiscal has been in play again, but this has become tiresome and the markets don’t need a reason to rally, they just don’t need to hear negative news. So, in the absence of any, we see equities flying and US Treasuries offered.”


10.55am update: UK regulator seeks to review O2-Virgin deal

The British competition regulator has asked to review the merger between Liberty Global’s Virgin Media and Telefonica’s O2 instead of Brussels because any impact on consumers will be felt in the UK and after Brexit.

“Ultimately, this is a decision for the European Commission, but as the merger will only impact UK consumers, and any effects would only be felt after the end of the transition period, it is only right for the CMA to request it back,” said Andrea Coscelli, head of the Competition and Markets Authority.

10.05am update: Cineworld screens to go dark on Thursday

The cinema chain announced it will temporarily close 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK.

Chains Odeon and Vue have shared their concerns over the situation.

9.45am update: FTSE-100 down

The FTSE-100 index at 9:45am was down 4.65 at 5941.60.

9.30am update: Rocky start to day’s trading

FTSE has dropped during the first 90 minutes of trading, a growing pattern this week.

The UK index closed at 5,946 yesterday. After opening at 8am this morning it has since fallen to 5,930.

8am update: Currency latest

The pound at 8am was 1.2951 dollars compared to 1.2913 dollars at the previous close.

The euro at 8am was 0.9095 pounds compared to 0.9111 pounds at the previous close.

7.45am update: EasyJet faces huge losses

Low-cost airline easyJet has warned it is set to slump to an annual loss of up to £845 million due to the pandemic in what will mark the first full-year loss in its history.

The group said it is braced for losses for the year to September 30 of between £815 million and £845 million.

The Luton-based carrier said losses reached between £295 million and £325 million in its fourth quarter, which were lower than those in the previous three months when planes were grounded during the lockdown.

It said it continued to keep its finances under review and “assess further funding opportunities” amid reports it has warned the Government it may need further financial support if the pandemic continues to batter demand.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “This year will be the first time in its history that easyJet has ever made a full-year loss.”

He added: “Aviation continues to face the most severe threat in its history and the UK Government urgently needs to step up with a bespoke package of measures to ensure airlines are able to support economic recovery when it comes.”

More to follow… 

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