Pound rises after Bank of England holds steady on policy

Amid concerns of rising U.S.-China tensions, top trade negotiators Robert Lighthizer and Liu He could be speaking trade between the countries as early as next week, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

The corporate front was busy with Europe’s first major deal since the pandemic began. Shares of Telefónica US:TEF ES:TEF rose nearly 1% after the Spanish telecom and U.S. tycoon John Malone’s cable group Liberty Global US:LBTYA agreed to merge their U.K. operations — O2 and Virgin Media — in a 50-50 joint venture.

Shares of BT Group UK:BT came under pressure on that deal news, and after the telecom said it would suspend its dividend until 2022 to fund a restructuring plan and deal with the pandemic.

The retail sector was a bright spot, with shares of Zalando DE:ZAL up 13% after the European e-commerce retailer reported first-quarter sales growth of 10.6%, which was sharply lower than the prior year, but it said it expected a more upbeat second quarter.

Shares of Puma DE:PUM rose 3% after the German-based sportswear maker reported a pandemic-driven earnings hit in the first quarter and warned of worse to come in the second. But it also reported better-than-expected sales, with the online side jumping 40%. Elsewhere, JD Sports Fashion UK:JD gained 4%.

Shares of Air France-KLM FR:AF dropped over 3% after the airline warned of a hard second quarter to come, after posting a widening loss in the first quarter. It spoke of a “high level of uncertainty on the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and impact on the macroeconomic environment,” in a press release.

Anheuser-Busch InBev US:BUD BE:ABI shares rose nearly 3%. The world’s largest brewer swung to a net loss in the first quarter, and said it expected falling volumes to worsen in the second quarter. However, analysts cheered moves by the company to mitigate costs.

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