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Slow crawl back to normality

A mixed bag of trading updates, earnings reports and dividend news is keeping the FTSE in slightly negative territory despite a more positive global background of declining infection numbers and the ongoing reopening. The current set of corporate earnings, though already not positive, is only a warmup for what is to come later this year as it is showing the impact of the only the first month of the corona lockdown in the UK and Europe.

Still, in amid the negative revenue reports and the general trend towards cutting dividends, any company that is keeping its dividend in place is quickly becoming very popular. This is the case with consumer debt checker Experian, which has bounced nearly 7% this morning after it said that it would leave the dividend unchanged this year.

Retailer Marks & Spencer reported a 21% hit to annual profits as clothes sales at its major stores were hit during the pandemic, but the company’s decision to speed up its turnaround programme helped lift shares 5%. The stock still has a long way to go to make up for this year’s losses at it trades just a whisker above 90, down from 215 at the start of the year.

Airlines and aerospace components makers took a further dive this morning as global travel still remains largely restricted and the likely pace of recovery for the rest of the year is looking as if it will be fairly slow.

Property firms also took a hit this morning despite government data showing that house prices held up fairly steadily in England, regardless of the onslaught of the coronavirus. On average house prices in England slipped only 0.1% from February with London prices rising 4.7% .

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