Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
Suspension of sport hits BT profits
BT (BT-AL) sales and profits fell in the three months to the end of June, as the telecoms giant warned it had been “impacted heavily” by the coronavirus and suspension of major televised sports.
“With limited sport to broadcast, revenues from both residential customers and pubs and clubs declined,” said the company.
The company’s shares dropped 1.7% as it reported on its first-quarter results on Friday. Pre-tax profits dropped 13% year-on-year to £561m, with revenue down 7% to £5.25bn ($6.9bn).
It highlighted the return of the Premier League on BT Sport, and the reopening of the majority of its retail stores. But it warned: “COVID-19 will continue to impact our business as the full economic consequences unfold.”
Adjusted revenue is expected to fall between 5% and 6% in the current financial year.
Profits at NatWest Group (NWG.L), formerly Royal Bank of Scotland, were wiped out in the first half of 2020 as the banks set aside an extra £2bn ($2.6bn) to cover an expected rise in losses in the coming months.
NatWest said on Friday it made a pre-tax loss of £770m in the first half of 2020, compared to a profit of £2.6bn last year. Losses attributable to shareholders were £705m.
It came as the bank set aside a further £2bn to cover loans, credit cards, and mortgages going bad as a result of the COVID-19 crisis — far higher than the City predicted. Analysts had expected NatWest to set aside around £940m for additional loan provisions in the second quarter, although estimates varied widely.
The owner of British Airways has announced plans for a rights issue of up to €2.75bn (£2.5bn, $3.6bn), as it warned the airline industry will take years to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
International Airlines Group (IAG.L), which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, revealed the fundraising measures as it also posted losses in both the second quarter and first half of the year.
With the pandemic hammering air travel, the company said operating losses came in at €1.365bn (£1.24bn, $1.63bn) in the three months to the end of the June.
The figures were only slightly lower than analyst forecasts reported by Reuters of €1.395bn, but marked a stark reversal of the €960m profits in the same period last year. It recorded a further €812m in exceptional costs.
European stocks edged higher on Friday, after suffering their worst day in a month on Thursday as fears heightened over the toll of the coronavirus on the global economy.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) was up 0.3% in early trading, after sliding almost 2.2% the previous day.
The markets appeared calmer after suffering heavy losses on Thursday. New figures showed a post-war record decline in French second-quarter GDP of 13.8%, but it was still less catastrophic than expected by officials or analysts.
Meanwhile in the US, quarterly earnings at Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL) came in better than expected. In Asia overnight, manufacturing output grew at a faster pace in July in China, while Japanese factories returned to growth.