Over in the US, earnings season is kicking in, with Netflix, Coca-Cola, SAP, Philip Morris, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments all reporting

Tuesday will see trading updates from the London Stock Exchange, Associated British Foods and UK unemployment numbers that will reveal the scale of the coronavirus fallout.

While the headline unemployment numbers will refer to the three months to February, so before the government coronavirus lockdown came into effect, the report will include March claimant count data that includes the time when the UK went into lockdown.

Unemployment claimant numbers could be pushed to around 2mln from 1.25mln last month and the claimant count unemployment rate to around 5.5%, economists at RBC Capital Markets said.

But it is likely that the claimant count understates the true rise in unemployment because of eligibility criteria and possible delays in people filing applications, said Pantheon Macroeconomics.

AB Foods to update on Primark woes

’s () interims on Tuesday follows six updates since the start of the year, including Friday’s announcement that the FTSE 100-listed firm is eligible to access state emergency funds.

The first half to 31 March is only likely to have seen a slight effect from the lockdowns that were enforced towards the end of that month, bolstered by the sugar and other food production segments that have remained largely unaffected by the pandemic.

Indeed, the consensus forecast for earnings per share is 62.5p against 61p a year ago.

The owner of Primark, which because of the lockdowns and its lack of an online sales channel is expected to lose out £650mln in monthly income, will not be in a position to provide guidance for the remainder of the year.

Investors will be looking to hear how Primark is controlling costs, managing stock levels and preparing for a big summer markdown, as well as more details on how the food businesses have been performing.

As of 2 April, the conglomerate had £1.7bn in the bank, which analysts at UBS called “a strong balance sheet”.

AB Foods has been increasing its dividend since 2000 though analysts expect a fall this year to 38.35p from 46.35p in 2019, as the pandemic takes a big bite out of earnings.

LSE looks to ride out market turmoil

Amid the turbulence in the markets, shares in London Stock Exchange Group PLC () only slightly below flat ahead of its first-quarter results.

This was helped by an update last month where the LSE said its $27bn takeover of data analytics specialist Refinitiv was still on track to be completed by the end of the year.

Analysts at Berenberg picked out the exchange operator earlier this month as one of the companies that will be broadly unaffected by the pandemic.

Covid-19 is seen by the analysts as only likely to have only a minor impact on LSE’s financials as the business is not especially disrupted by lockdowns, though the situation could delay completion of the Refinitiv acquisition, though the agreed bank funding for this deal has become cheaper following the cuts to US interest rates.

BHP follows Rio

A quarterly operational update from () follows on from fellow mining major Rio Tinto last week, where capex guidance was cut 15-30% reflecting a combination of project delays and currency translation benefits, but cost guidance was unchanged for now. 

Analysts at said they expect “material changes” to cost and capex guidance for most miners in the weeks ahead, with large volume downgrades for those heavily impacted by Covid-19 linked disruptions.

They said the Rio update “sets a positive tone for the rest of reporting season and highlights the cash flow levers the sector has to at least partially offset lower prices”.

Significant announcements expected on Tuesday 21 April:

Interims: Associated British Foods PLC (),  ()

Finals:  PLC (),  (),  (),  Group PLC (),  (),  (),  PLC ()

Trading announcements: BHP PLC (), London Stock Exchange Group PLC (),  PLC (),  (), Integrafin Holdings PLC (),  ()

Economic data: UK unemployment

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