Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said a more detailed picture of the economy in the first quarter showed GDP shrank more than originally estimated. He said: “This is now the largest quarterly fall since 1979.”

He continued: “Information from Government showed health activities declined more than we previously showed.

“All main sectors of the economy shrank significantly in March as the effects of the pandemic hit.

“The sharp fall in consumer spending at the end of March led to a notable increase in households’ savings.”


9.13am update: Engineering giant announces job cuts

Engineering giant Smiths Group said it will cut jobs as part of a major restructure aimed at slashing costs across the business.

The FTSE 100 firm said it hopes the restructuring will improve margins and deliver £70 million in benefits each year from 2022.

It came as the group announced a 1 percent rise in underlying revenue for the four months to May 31, on the back of good momentum from the first half and “strong order-books” at the start of the pandemic.

8.45am update: FTSE down 28.65 at 6197.12

The FTSE-100 index is down 28.65 at 6197.12.

8.27am update: FTSE 100 falls amid fresh lockdown fears

The FTSE 100 was down early doors amid growing fears of another coronavirus lockdown.

The 0.3 percent fall took the shine off one of the strongest quarters for British stocks since the global financial crisis.

Oil giant Shell was among the biggest losers after it said it would write down the value of its assets by more than £17bn on a lower outlook for oil and gas prices.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 reversed small gains at the open to trade down 0.1 percent. Auto, banks and energy firms were among the biggest decliners in early trading.

Homebuilder Redrow tumbled 5.6 percent to the bottom of the FTSE 250 after saying it expected its turnover to drop more than a third this year.

8.01am update: FTSE opens unchanged at 6225.77.

The FTSE-100 index opened unchanged at 6225.77.

7.50pm update: Shell braced for £17.9bn impairment charge hit

Oil giant Shell said it expected to be hit with £17.9 billion in impairment charges for the current quarter after lowering its expectations for oil and gas prices.

The British-Dutch firm predicted that it will book an impairment of between £12.2 billion and £17.9 billion after commodity prices were hit by coronavirus and the Saudi-Russia price war.

Shell also said that it expects oil production to be higher than previously predicted, saying it hopes to produce between 2.3 million and 2.4 million barrels of oil per day.

7.45am update: FTSE unchanged at 6225.77.

The FTSE-100 index was unchanged at 6225.77.

7.32am update: Hong Kong shares on the up despite Chinese security law fears

Hong Kong shares tracked other Asian markets higher today as upbeat data from the US and China data renewed economic recovery hopes and offset worries about Washington’s sanctions against the city over Beijing’s national security law.

At the lunch break, the Hang Seng index was up 0.9 percent to 24,516.44, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index, which tracks Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies, was 0.6 percent higher at to 9,818.17.

Chinese shares also climbed with Shenzhen’s tech-heavy start-up board ChiNext jumping more than 2 percent to reach four-year highs amid heightened Sino-US tensions.

On the mainland, the blue-chip CSI300 index rose 1.1 percent to 4,154.29. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.6 percent to 2,978.56.

7.02am update: Global stocks rise after investors shake off worrying new virus outbreaks

Global stocks rose today after investors shook off fears of new virus outbreaks.G

Japan’s benchmark Topix index rose 1.2 percent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.3 percent. China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks was up 0.8 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.9 per cent. Futures markets predicted the S&P 500 to climb 0.2 per cent when US trading begins later in the day.

Chris Varvares, co-head of US economics at IHS Markit, told the FT it was “too early to tell” about new US coronavirus cases and deaths leading to lockdowns, which would be a blow to the economy later this year.

He said: “We are watching very closely the course of the pandemic and looking for a tipping point.

“Chinese equities were buoyed by a pick-up in activity at the country’s factories, with the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index beating economists’ predictions in June.”

6.11am update: China’s factory activity quickens, but pandemic drags on exporters and recovery

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) came in at 50.9 in June, compared with May’s 50.6, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed on Tuesday, and was above the 50.4 forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis.

The uptick was underpinned by the quickening pace of expansion in production. The forward-looking total new orders gauge also brightened, rising to 51.4 from May’s 50.9, suggesting domestic demand is picking up as industries from non-ferrous metals to general equipment and electrical machinery all showed an improvement.

But export orders continued to contract, albeit at a slower pace, with a sub-index standing at 42.6 compared to 35.3 in May, well below the 50-point mark.

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