March 18, 2020 / 7:55 AM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 18

(Adds company news items and futures)

March 18 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 136 points lower on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 3.7% ahead of cash market open.

* MARSTON’S: Pub operator Marston’s said it was now unlikely to recommend an interim dividend and was in discussions to have the option of having debt covenants waived later this year as it prepared for a major hit to sales from the coronavirus shutdown.

* RESTAURANT GROUP: Frankie & Benny’s owner Restaurant Group warned that comparable sales would fall 25% in the current fiscal year due to a hit from the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

* PENDRAGON: British auto retailer Pendragon said the coronavirus spread in the UK could reduce footfall and affect financial performance, but the company added it was too early to quantify the impact.

* FERREXPO: Ferrexpo delayed its decision to declare a final dividend due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, even as the iron ore pellets producer posted a jump in annual core profit on higher realised prices.

* MORRISONS: British supermarket group Morrisons cautioned on Wednesday it was facing “unprecedented challenges and uncertainty” dealing with coronavirus.

* ECONOMY: Britain said it would launch a 330 billion-pound ($399 billion) lifeline of loan guarantees and provide a further 20 billion pounds in tax cuts, grants and other help for businesses facing the risk of collapse from the spread of coronavirus.

* CORONAVIRUS: Courts in England and Wales dealing with serious crimes will not start trials if they are likely to last for more than three days because of the spread of coronavirus, the head of the judiciary said on Tuesday.

* CORONAVIRUS: The number of people in Britain who have died after testing positive for coronavirus rose to 71 on Tuesday after another 14 deaths in England.

* METALS: Most industrial metals rose on the London Metal Exchange (LME), bouncing back from heavy losses in the previous session on hopes of a U.S. stimulus package and as miners reduced operations in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

* OIL: Oil prices steadied early after sliding to their lowest in four years, sapped by fears for fuel demand and the global economy amid travel and social lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus epidemic in a number of countries around the world.

* GOLD: Gold prices inched higher as additional stimulus from the United States eased some concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus and halted a trend of selling precious metals for cash, although a strong dollar capped gains.

* London’s main share index rose on Tuesday as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to purchase short-term corporate debt and Britain’s expected rescue package to help coronavirus-hit businesses brought back some confidence among investors.

TODAY’S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines (Reporting by Shanima A and Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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