Some of Britain’s biggest travel and leisure companies retreated sharply this morning as the government confirmed that it was considering a second national lockdown.

The number of new coronavirus cases is doubling every seven to eight days, and Boris Johnson and his team are mulling the reintroduction of tougher restrictions. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that the government would do “whatever is necessary to keep people safe”.

Travel and leisure companies bore the brunt of the first lockdown, with many starved of income for months. Investors, wary of a repeat, were quick to ditch airlines, pubs groups and restaurant owners this morning.

IAG, the British Airways owner, dropped 12¾p, or 9.9 per cent, to 116¾p; shares in Restaurant Group, Wagamama’s parent, fell 3½p, or 6.2 per cent, to 52½p; and JD Wetherspoon, the no-frills pub chain, was marked down 39p, or 4.5 per cent, to 822½p.

Banking stocks … Read the rest

This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Happy Friday, everyone. Can stocks stage a comeback to avert another down week? It’s not looking promising.

Asia is higher, Europe is mixed and Nasdaq futures are off their lows. That’s good news, particularly for tech bulls, as the Nasdaq flirts with a new correction and some FAAMG stocks even threaten to fall into bear territory.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major indexes are solidly in the green with Shanghai leading the way, up 2%.
  • President Trump has yet to give the green-light (nor has Beijing, for that matter) to the OracleTikTok tie-up, but there’s already talk of an IPO as early as next year.
  • Coronavirus hit a grim toll in the past day, topping 30
Read the rest

Business owners have been the target of a new email phishing scam purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The scam, which was uncovered by accountancy outsourcing specialists Lanop Outsourcing, uses official HMRC branding and graphics to convince victims that their VAT deferral application has been rejected. At least 100 company owners have reported receiving the realistic scam email through Lanop Outsourcing clients.

To aid struggling businesses during Covid-19, HMRC allowed payments of VAT between March 2020 and June 2020 to be deferred until 31st March 2021. Cyber criminals have used the scheme to trick business owners into revealing sensitive information, such as account names, passwords and payment details.

The phishing email begins: “Dear customers, Your request for a deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19) has been rejected… Summary of reject justification: ‘the claimant is in arrears.”

The email then attempts to convince the recipient of … Read the rest

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a warning to Boris Johnson, ruling out any U.K.-U.S. trade deal if the prime minister’s plan to renege on parts of the Brexit agreement threatens peace in Northern Ireland.

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said on Twitter. “Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

Johnson has long touted a free-trade accord with the U.S. as one of the key prizes of Brexit. However, Biden’s intervention underscores how the prime minister is struggling to contain the political fallout from his plan to unilaterally rewrite the divorce treaty he signed with the European Union less than a year ago.

By overriding parts of the accord that deal with Northern Ireland, Johnson is … Read the rest

The success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme meant that people bought fewer groceries to cook meals at home last month, according to new figures.

Supermarket food sales fell by £155 million in August compared with the previous month. The year-on-year growth in sales fell from 14.4 per cent in the 12 weeks to August 9 to 10.8 per cent in the 12 weeks to September 6.

Alcohol sales at supermarkets also dropped, with wine down by 5 per cent and beer falling by 10 per cent, as more people returned to pubs, bars and restaurants to make use of the government’s half-price offer on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August, rather than drinking at home during virtual pub quizzes on Zoom.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insights at Kantar, said that “resocialising” had spurred renewed demand for personal grooming items, too, with sales of hairstyling … Read the rest

This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Good morning. The rally in global equities continues on Wednesday as investors await the Fed’s big policy briefing later today.

Let’s check where investors are putting their money.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mixed in afternoon trading, with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.1%.
  • The Shinzo Abe era is official over, but don’t expect much of a policy change in Japan. The country has a new prime minister this morning in Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s close former aide, who pledges to keep the spending taps open.
  • Blackstone’s Tony James spoke at CNBC’s Singapore Summit this morning and gave an incredibly bearish call on stocks, saying investors should brace themselves for “a lost decade in terms of equities appreciation.” He’s worried
Read the rest

New Look’s biggest landlords will vote against the fashion retailer’s latest rescue plan on Tuesday, throwing its survival into further doubt amid the UK’s deepening high street crisis.

Sky News has learnt that British Land, which owns 19 New Look stores, and Landsec, which owns 10, will oppose its planned company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in a crucial vote on Tuesday.

Hammerson, the owner of London’s Brent Cross shopping centre and Birmingham’s Bullring, is also said to be leaning towards voting against the CVA.

In total, the three retail property giants own just over 40 New Look stores – a small proportion of its 490 UK shops.

The fashion retailer, which is attempting to push through its second major financial restructuring in under two years, has a particularly fragmented landlord base, with roughly 350 different owners of its UK outlets.

If approved, its CVA would result in the company switching its … Read the rest

Good morning.

Today is a big day for Fortune. We are announcing the launch of a new membership community—Fortune Connect—created for mid-career professionals who are on the executive track, rising fast, and leadership bound.

Why are we doing it?  Readers of this newsletter know that we believe business is changing… for the better. The change may not go as far as some would like, or as fast. But change is happening, driven by the demands of employees, customers, investors and the world at large. Society is making it clear that business has to do better, or risk losing its license to operate. And business leaders are responding.

Fortune Connect is designed to help the next generation of top leaders prepare for this change. We provide weekly programming aimed at allowing Fortune Connect fellows to interact with the leaders at the frontiers of business change, with a special … Read the rest

Business Matters caught up with Clare George-Hilley, founder of technology and fintech specialist PR agency Centropy, as the company celebrates three years of trading.

Clare discusses the highs and lows of launching a challenger PR agency, the outlook for businesses and how technology is set to transform traditional working patterns beyond all recognition.

What do you currently do?

I am co-founder of Centropy PR, the Shoreditch-based tech and fintech agency which helps companies raise their profile in the media. We work with a diverse portfolio of clients, covering all sorts of topics including cryptocurrency, analytics, cyber skills and automation. Trophy clients include UK industry body techUK, FTSE 250 IT firms and the UK government’s Institute of Coding.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I’ve always been fascinated by technology and increasingly IT is playing a critical role in all aspects of our daily lives. From smart cities, connected economies … Read the rest

This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Good morning, Bull Sheeters. Upbeat vaccine news and a flurry of major tech deals have shaken equities out of a two-week rut.

Let’s see where investors are putting their money.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are in the green in afternoon trading, with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.6%.
  • Microsoft is out, and Oracle is in. That’s the major development, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, this morning in the TikTok U.S. sweepstakes.
  • SoftBank shares were up nearly 9% in Tokyo today on a string of huge headlines. It sold its semiconductor unit, Arm Ltd., to Nvidia for $40 billion in a record-breaking deal. It’s also getting serious about taking the firm private.

Europe

  • The European bourses were
Read the rest