STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – H&M plans to close hundreds of stores next year as the coronavirus crisis drives more shoppers online, the world’s second biggest fashion retailer said on Thursday, after reporting a smaller than expected drop in third-quarter profit.

H&M, which over decades expanded its network of shops around the world, will aim to cut their number by a net 250 next year, representing 5% of its current network.

H&M has been shutting more stores and opening fewer over the past couple of years as it adapts to the online shift that is driving more competition. The retailer said earlier this year its net number of stores would decline already in 2020.

The company also said sales had continued to recover in September from the impact of the virus.

Chief Executive Helena Helmersson said: “Although the challenges are far from over, we believe that the worst is behind us and we are well placed to come out of the crisis stronger.”

Rival fashion retail groups have also seen a recovery, with market leader Inditex, the owner of Zara, reporting a return to profit in its May-July quarter.

“Overall, Q3 is a better quarter than expected and we think H&M continued to manage well what they could directly influence,” analysts at JPM said in a note.

“We think that the market is still not fully appreciating the improved quality of H&M business model and infrastructure. We think instead that this set of results is further proof that H&M turnaround is still very much well on track.”

H&M’s shares were up 6.0% at 0804 GMT.

The Swedish company’s pretax profit fell to 2.37 billion crowns ($265.6 million) in its fiscal third quarter, from a year-earlier 5.01 billion. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had on average seen a 2.03 billion crown profit.

H&M had

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Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said cutting jobs was “the right thing to do for the future of the company.”


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Royal Dutch Shell

unveiled plans on Wednesday to cut up to 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022, as part of a major restructuring plan as it shifts to low-carbon energy.

The oil giant said it expected to make annual savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion through a “simpler, streamlined and lower-cost organization.”

In a trading update, the company said it expected to take another impairment charge of $1 billion to $1.5 billion in the third quarter, and that production was set to drop due to the hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The stock edged lower into afternoon London trading.

The back story. The oil-and-gas industry has been one of the worst affected throughout the coronavirus crisis, as the pandemic caused demand to collapse. In April, Shell cut its dividend for the first time since World War II. The company reported a record $18.1 billion second-quarter loss, following a $16.8 billion write-down as it lowered long-term oil price forecasts. Its peers have faced similar problems, with

BP

plunging to a $16.8 billion net loss in the second quarter, having also cut its dividend for the first time in a decade.

However, the Covid-19 crisis has also accelerated the industry’s shift toward green energy. BP has ramped up its strategy—to become net zero on carbon by 2050—by pledging a tenfold increase in low-carbon investment to $5 billion a year by 2030. Shell also launched a review of its business, with a view to transitioning toward low-carbon energy.

What’s new. Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said cutting jobs was “the right thing to do for the future of the company,” as he laid out

China’s factory activity expanded at a faster pace in September helped by a return to exports growth after several months of shrinking sales, bolstering a steady recovery for the economy as it rebounds from the coronavirus shock.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 51.0 in August, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday, and remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

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Analysts had expected it to pick up slightly to 51.2.

A private survey, also released on the day, painted a similar picture of the manufacturing sector gaining momentum backed by stronger overseas demand.

China’s vast industrial sector is steadily returning to the levels seen before the pandemic paralyzed huge swathes of the economy, as pent-up demand, stimulus-driven infrastructure expansion and surprisingly resilient exports propel a recovery.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, also showed the sub-index for new export orders stood at 50.8 in September, improving from 49.1 a month earlier and snapping eight months of declines.

GM’S CHINA SALES DROP 5% IN QUARTER, UNDERPERFORMS INDUSTRY RECOVERY

The signs of stronger overseas demand were also highlighted in the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index(PMI), which focuses more on small and export-oriented firms. Its gauge for new export orders rose at the fastest pace in over three years.

“The higher official PMI for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing suggested China’s growth recovery is on track,” Nomura analysts said in emailed comments.

Recently, economic indicators ranging from trade to producer prices have all suggested a further pick up in the industrial sector. Profits at China’s

By Gabriel Crossley

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity extended solid growth in September, twin surveys showed, as the nation’s crucial exports engine revved up on improving overseas demand and underlined a steady economic recovery from the coronavirus shock.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 51.0 in August, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Wednesday, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction for the seventh month.

Analysts had expected it to pick up slightly to 51.2.

A private survey, also released on the day, painted a similar picture of the manufacturing sector gaining momentum backed by stronger overseas demand.

China’s vast industrial sector is steadily returning to the levels seen before the pandemic paralysed huge swathes of the economy, as pent-up demand, stimulus-driven infrastructure expansion and surprisingly resilient exports propel a recovery.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, also showed the sub-index for new export orders stood at 50.8 in September, improving from 49.1 a month earlier and snapping eight months of declines.

The signs of stronger overseas demand were also highlighted in the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index(PMI), which focuses more on small and export-oriented firms. Its gauge for new export orders rose at the fastest pace in over three years.

Recently, economic indicators ranging from trade to producer prices have all suggested a further pick up in the industrial sector. Profits at China’s industrial firms extended robust growth in August to the fourth month, official data showed on Sunday.

Domestic demand also shows signs of broadening, with industrial output accelerating the most in eight months in August and retail sales growing for the first time this year.

Adding to the demand recovery from the coronavirus-induced slump, the official