Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.
Ted Baker plunges
Fashion retailer Ted Baker (TED.L) has announced that revenues in the three months to the end of January fell 47%, warning it had seen a “material negative” impact from COVID-19 that forced many of its shops to close.
It further warned that it expects a £5m ($6.9m) hit from higher costs related to Brexit.
Directly operated ecommerce sales at the London-listed retailer rose 2%. It added that it has a strong balance sheet and cash position.
Chief executive Rachel Osborne said: “While we have made encouraging strategic progress, trading over the fourth quarter was difficult and heavily impacted by the COVID pandemic, leading to the closure of many of our stores during the period and a lack of demand for outerwear and occasionwear over the festive season in particular.”
The company is set to launch a new ecommerce platform that it says will “significantly improve functionality and flexibility” at the end of this quarter.
Ted Baker expects the remainder of its UK store estate will remain closed until the end of May.
Shares slumped as much as 5% after the update.
Europe opened marginally higher on Thursday, with the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) up just 0.1% after the bell ahead of US jobless claims data this afternoon.
Healthcare and industrial companies were amongst the leaders on the FTSE as the UK vaccine rollout continues across the country, and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said it hopes to be able to implement adapted vaccines “six to nine months” after the discovery of new coronavirus variants.
WATCH: AstraZeneca expects growth, not counting vaccine
However, weakness among banks also weighed on the index.
AJ Bell said: “The FTSE 100 has now been treading water for more than a week as strong sterling weighs on the large number of index members which earn in different currencies. Markets across Europe and Asia were also static on Thursday with investors sitting on their hands, waiting for progress updates on the US stimulus plan and vaccination numbers.”
AstraZeneca (AZN.L) hopes to be able to rollout adapted vaccines “six to nine months” after the discovery of new coronavirus variants.
The pharmaceutical company said it was focused on “optimising” its established supply chain and making the most of existing clinical data to speed up turnaround times adapting its C19VAZ jab.
It came as the company reported revenues jumping 9% in its full-year results, reaching $26.6bn (£19.2bn). Revenues are expected to grow by a “low-teens percentage” in its 2021 financial year, though the forecast does not include its vaccine sales, which will be reported separately from the next quarter.
Pre-tax profits more than doubled, jumping 153% to reach $3.9bn (£2.8bn). But the company has vowed to deliver its vaccine, co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company Vaccitech, “at no profit for the duration of the pandemic.”
The company said data “continued to accrue” from clinical trials on the efficacy of its vaccine, the effects of different gaps between doses, the length of protection and the impact of new variants. Any findings will be “published in due course.”
WATCH: Inside Europe's fight for COVID shots