Markets end flat | Calamatta Cuschieri

Global markets and mostly flat, Aston Martin looks at new CEO & Hertz files for bankruptcy

US markets ended mostly flat on Friday as investors looked ahead to the long Memorial Day weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 8.96 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 24,465.16 while the S&P 500 index edged up 6.94 points higher, or 0.2 percent, to 2,955.45. The Nasdaq Composite gained 39.71 points, or 0.4 percent, to end the session at 9,324.59.

European markets also closed unchanged as rising tensions between Washington and Beijing put a cap on gains. Asia-exposed banks and luxury stocks fell as Beijing planned to impose a new security law in Hong Kong, raising prospects of fresh protests in the global financial hub and drawing a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Maltese markets meanwhile ended lower, with the MSE Equity Total Return Index closing down 0.786 percent at 8,060.973 points. International Hotel Investments Plc led the losses with shares down 4.42 percent at €0.54, followed by Simonds Farsons Cisk, down 2.42 percent at €8.05. Mainstreet Complex Plc posted the largest gain in the session, up 6.9 percent at €0.496.

Aston Martin looks to new CEO

Andy Palmer, Chief Executive of Aston Martin, is leaving the business as part of a management shake-up and will be replaced by Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG, a source familiar with the matter told reporters. The luxury carmaker, famed for producing the car of choice for the fictional secret agent James Bond, has seen its share price plummet since its public debut in October 2018.

The 107-year old British luxury carmaker earlier this month posted a deep first-quarter loss after sales dropped by almost a third due to the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The company has been banking on its sport utility vehicle to drive sales in a new segment, and said production was on track.

Hertz files for bankruptcy

Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday after its business was decimated during the coronavirus pandemic and talks with creditors failed to result in much needed relief. U.S. airlines have so far avoided similar fates after receiving billions of dollars in government aid, an avenue Hertz has explored without success.

The firm, whose largest shareholder is billionaire investor Carl Icahn with a nearly 39% ownership stake, is reeling from government orders restricting travel and requiring citizens to remain home. A large portion of Hertz’s revenue comes from car rentals at airports, which have all but evaporated as potential customers eschew plane travel.