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Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.

Pearson

Educational publisher Pearson [LON:PSON] has issued a trading statement this morning for the first quarter. Results are in line with the company’s previous COVID-19 guidance offered just over a month ago, with global sales down 5%. Physical learning is obviously down following the closure of venues, but the business has also taken the decision to make many of its online resources free, in a bid to garner support in the longer term. Regardless of the situation, the company’s strong cash position means they intend to proceed with dividend payments which will be up by around 5% year-on-year.

Dart Group

There’s a trading update from Dart Group [LON:DTG], the owners of Jet2, out this morning. It points to the stellar performance seen by the business last year, where pre-tax profits are expected to have recorded a 50% jump. The plan is for the airline to start flying again mid-June, and although there’s considerable uncertainty over this date, they report some bookings now coming in for the latter part of the year. Charges in excess of £100m will need to be recognised off the back of ineffectiveness of fuel and currency hedging, whist the business is also locking down on costs, asking all staff to take a pay cut of up to 30% for the next six months. The travel sector will remain in focus, but the exposure from the unused hedges is significant.

Persimmon

An interesting update from housebuilder Persimmon [LON:PSN], with news that despite the COVID-19 shut down, they have secured 820 home sale reservations in the five weeks to 19th April, using online resources. The company is also undertaking a phased reopening of its construction sites, starting from Monday, noting that the government is pushing to get the industry back up to speed. They’re not the only builder moving back online but this hopefully offers some optimism that the economy won’t remain severely depressed for too long.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Tony Cross

Tony Cross

Tony Cross is a market commentator with over 15 years of experience, producing compelling, insightful copy for journalists and investors alike. Focusing on macroeconomics, UK blue chip equities and inter market analysis, Cross's commentary is well regarded for its clarity and ability to cut through the waffle. He has been quoted in publications as diverse as The Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun. He has also been a regular guest on both Share Radio and TipTV.

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