Companies will receive £167m of funding over the next three months on the condition that they would provide up to 50 per cent of their services in England
Bus firms’ shares revved higher after the Government offered them a further bailout package.
Companies will receive £167m of funding over the next three months on the condition that they keep running up to 50 per cent of their services in England.
The rescue comes on top of another promise of Government support, worth £230m, giving the transport sector around £400m of breathing room.
Firms report seeing a drop in passenger numbers of as much as 90 per cent since the Government advised against all but essential travel and put the country into a temporary lockdown.
This pummelled revenues and meant firms had to make dramatic cuts to their services. Running around half of services will mean essential workers can still get to and from work.
But, crucially, it also means many will be able to sit a safe distance away from other passengers and avoid being squashed up against fellow commuters. Shares in Go-Ahead Group accelerated 12.9 per cent, or 105p, to 920p, while First Group jumped 10.1 per cent, or 4.8p, to 52.3p.
Stagecoach, which also said it would suspend its inter-city Megabus service in England and Wales by Sunday, April 5, rose 4.5 per cent, or 3p, to 69.35p. National Express (up 3.9 per cent, or 7p, to 184.9p) announced a similar move on Thursday for its coach services.
The same rally couldn’t be seen in the wider stock market, however, with both of London’s main indexes falling into the red. The FTSE100 closed down 1.2 per cent, or 64.72 points, to 5414.5, while the mid-cap FTSE250 fell 2.3 per cent, or 337.59 points, to 14099.21.
The Footsie was partly dragged lower as oil giants Shell (down 4.1 per cent, or 61.2p, to 1418.40p) and BP (down 4.5 per cent, or 16.05p, to 337.3p) sagged. Both firms rallied on Thursday when oil prices rocketed in the largest ever one-day spike after US President Trump claimed an end to Russia and Saudi Arabia’s painful price war was imminent.
Crude prices rose 11 per cent, or more than $3, to $33 last night, as traders awaited a virtual meeting of oil producing countries next week. Two smaller energy firms kept climbing, however.
Mid-cap Mediterranean-focused firm Energean jumped 7.1 per cent, or 45p, to 677p after it opted not to take over Edison’s assets in Algeria as part of a much wider acquisition, saving it £123m.
And struggling Tullow Oil rose 48 per cent, or 5.61p, to 17.29p, after it identified a further £70m in cost savings – meaning it will cut overall spending by around £245m this year – and said it had untapped cash and debt reserves of £575m. Elsewhere, trading platform CMC fell 0.4 per cent, or 0.8p, to 192.8p, despite sales almost doubling in the year to March 31 after volatile markets sparked by the US-China trade war and, more recently, the coronavirus outbreak.
Stockbroker Cenkos Securities said it was ‘still operating as normal’ from home during the lockdown.
Its shares rose 5.1 per cent, or 2p, to 41.5p as it said it was still signing up clients and raised money for others despite the turbulence in recent weeks. Portable power generator supplier Aggreko (up 0.1 per cent, or 0.4p, to 465.4p) has offered the Government up to 1,300 small generators to provide power for Covid-19 testing sites.
Amid the axe many firms have taken to their dividends, analysts at Deutsche Bank said that in the coming weeks the shareholder payouts from tobacco giants could be among the ‘safest in the market’.
But the assessment failed to light up shares in British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, which fell 0.2 per cent, or 6p, to 2940p and 0.4 per cent, or 6p, to 1563.5p respectively.
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