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Markets slide as UK banks cancel dividends and factories slump – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, as stocks begin the new quarter with fresh losses

10.49am BST

M&S is offering retail staff who carry on working during coronavirus outbreak a 15% bonus.

It says that taking furlough is voluntary, so those with caring commitments or who are feeling more vulnerable are able to stay at home. Any staff member who is furloughed will do so on full pay.
Store staff also being offered personal plastic face shields which they say are better than masks as they can be easily cleaned and don’t need to be adjusted (which can lead to face touching.

10.49am BST

Economists are alarmed by today’s UK manufacturing PMI report. Here’s some reaction:

“The UK manufacturing sector has essentially come to a standstill. The shuttering of businesses and the complete dissolution of supply chains means that the sector that accounts for around 1/7th of the UK economy is effectively closed for business. While new orders, as well as delivery times, can reverse quickly as businesses rebuild inventories, the worst decline in employment since July 2009 shows that a recovery will not be quite as instantaneous.”

“There is optimism amongst businesses that output will be higher in a year’s time, which the nation will certainly be hoping is the case.”

“Today may be April Fool’s Day but this result is no joke. A PMI score of 47.8 amidst the ongoing Covid19 outbreak is a sign of just how hard manufacturers have been hit.

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“Many firms have had to shut and lots of those that remain open have seen orders or output suffer. Others have switched to making products that are vital to the national attempt to stop the spread of the virus; a testament to why backing manufacturing is so important.

“The economic data coming out of Europe this morning is not comforting, but that’s no surprise. Confidence about the future in Italy and Spain sank to levels not seen before, suggesting worse is to come.

The UK, France and Germany showed similar traits. Equity markets in Europe will be under pressure, compounded by the UK banking sector cancelling dividends.”

Forget about manufacturing PMI for a while indeed. Headline numbers are overstated due to explosion in delivery times. And when the outlook finally improves, shorter delivery times will weigh on the PMI.

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