Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher sees sales soar
Shares in Kingfisher (KGF.L) leapt more than 5% on Wednesday as the B&Q and Screwfix owner said sales had soared over the past three months.
The company, which also owns Castorama and Brico Depot in France, saw “underlying” sales jump 21.8% as shoppers embraced DIY during the coronavirus lockdown.
It declined to give guidance for the full-year, but released the sales figures for its second quarter to 13 June. It also said like-for-like sales had been at least 25% higher year-on-year since the second week in May, when they had been down 74% in the first week of April.
The company also released its 2019 results, with adjusted profits down 5.2% to £544m ($682m) and total sales down 1.5% to £11.5bn.
Online sales have seen a significant rise, and its UK and French stores reopened fully from the second half of April, Reuters reports.
William Hill and De La Rue raise cash
It said the funds would boost its rapid expansion in the US, following de-regulation of sports gambling rules.
Meanwhile ailing passport and banknote maker De La Rue (DLAR.L) said on Wednesday that it was hoping to raise £100m ($126m) from investors to bolster its balance sheet and help it implement its cost-cutting plan.
The company, which also announced that it would cease banknote and passport printing at its Gateshead facility near Newcastle, noted that it had seen only “moderate disruption” from the coronavirus pandemic.
HSBC (HSBA.L) has resumed plans to cut 35,000 jobs globally, ending a hiatus provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief executive Noel Quinn told staff in a memo on Wednesday morning that the bank would “lift the pause on job losses”.
“We could not pause the job losses indefinitely — it was always a question of ‘not if, but when’,” Quinn wrote in the memo, seen by Yahoo Finance UK.
Lower fuel prices and a slump in demand during the coronavirus pandemic saw inflation in the UK tumble to 0.5% in May, its lowest level since the Brexit referendum.
The year-on-year growth in prices, down from 0.8% in April, represents the slowest price growth since June 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
While the inflation rate fell in line with analyst expectations, the usually less volatile measure of core inflation — which excludes energy, food, alcohol, and tobacco prices — fell to 1.2%, lower than predicted.
European stocks rallied as markets opened on Wednesday, as a coronavirus treatment “breakthrough” outweighed new fears of a second wave.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) called a clinical trial led by Oxford University “great news.” It said the study was the first treatment shown to reduce the number of deaths among severely ill patients reliant on ventilators.
WHO director-general Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the trial, using the cheap, widely used steroid dexamethasone, marked a “lifesaving scientific breakthrough.”