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Wall Street’s benchmark stock index struck an all-time high on Tuesday, having rallied more than 50 per cent from the darkest days of the coronavirus crisis, despite persistent investor unease about the US economy. The S&P 500 index touched an intraday high of 3,395, eclipsing its February record. It also set a closing record of 3,389.77.

France’s top professional football league has postponed Friday’s opening match of the season after Olympique de Marseille reported four Covid-19 cases among its players. Its match against Saint-Étienne, postponed until mid-September, is the latest event to fall foul of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic is far from being tamed, the deputy head of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund said on Tuesday. “It doesn’t seem to be under control in any shape or form,” said Trond Grande, deputy chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages Norway’s $1tn oil fund.

The sharp fall in oil prices and coronavirus-related lockdowns almost wiped out pre-tax profits at Wood, the energy services group, in the first half of the year. The Aberdeen-based company eked out a pre-tax profit of just $900,000 for the six months to June 30, down from $62.2m a year earlier.

The Home Depot generated a larger than expected 23.4 per cent rise in sales as the do-it-yourself retailer reaped the benefit of many Americans being stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The home improvement chain reported second-quarter sales of $38.1bn compared with $30.8bn a year ago. Net earnings rose about 27 per cent to $4.3bn.

Marks and Spencer has said it will cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months as the UK retailer overhauls its business in the latest sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the high street. The FTSE 250 group said many reductions would be made through voluntary redundancies and early retirement.

Persimmon, the UK’s largest housebuilder, has said it will restore its dividend as a rapid rebound in property sales buoys its prospects. The builder’s pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of June slipped 43 per cent, to £292m, after it was forced to close construction sites for more than a month.

Low-cost Wizz Air is to open a new base at Gatwick airport and called on regulators to let “proper commercial forces prevail” to allow it to pick up more slots from its rivals as airlines lurch through the pandemic. The Hungarian carrier will launch four new routes from Gatwick by late October as it defies an industry-wide downturn to expand its operations in the UK.


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