Thursday, April 2: The FTSE 100(+0.47%) inched out the day higher, lifted by oil majors on the back of Trump’s tweet. The US President said he had spoken with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had discussed cuts to crude output of c.10m barrels with President Putin, putting an end to the oil price war. Oil majors BP(+6.13%) and Royal Dutch Shell(+9.41%) were higher on the news, tracking gains in Brent crude oil which spiked 13% to $29.58. Prior to the news, US jobless numbers far exceeded consensus expectations and weighed on the FTSE 100, whilst bad news regarding UK COVID-19 deaths also made for a glum day of trading before the oil news lifted the index.
The FTSE 250(-0.76%) found itself another leg lower due to weakness in travel, retail and leisure sectors. One of the largest detractors from performance was fresh food producers Bakkavor(-10.80%) after it revealed that the outbreak of coronavirus led to falling orders and a dividend cut. The Group cited challenging operational issues initially in China, and in more recent times the US & the UK impacting daily order levels and labour availability. UK operations, representing c. 90% of Group EBITDA noted a fall in sales across all categories, most notably in salads & food-to-go products. A general order reduction was experienced in the US, and consequently the product offering has been streamlined. The impact of the outbreak in China was severe in the early months for Bakkavor, though the situation has now stabilised, with customers now re-opening stores, and the Group’s sites are gradually resuming service as order rebuild.