Maersk cargo ship supply chain UK – JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

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Container shipping giant Maersk is said to be diverting big cargo ships away from the UK due to a backlog of arrivals piling up at ports.

The Danish company has started rerouting ships away from Felixstowe, instead unloading cargo in Europe to be transported for the final leg of the journey on smaller vessels, the Financial Times reported.

It comes amid a backlog at Felixstowe, which handles 36 per cent of the UK's containerised freight, as a shortage of lorry drivers causes delays in moving containers.

A spokesman for the port said: "The pre-Christmas peak, combined with haulage shortages, congested inland terminals, poor vessel schedule reliability and the pandemic, has resulted in a build-up of containers at the port.

"Empty container levels remain high as import containers are returned and we are asking shipping lines to remove them as quickly as possible."

The delays will spark concerns ahead of the key Christmas period, with retailers warned they may need to prioritise what they ship.

Bottlenecks have been felt elsewhere in the world too, with a huge queue of ships waiting to dock at America's two largest ports. Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, which handle 40 per cent of containerised cargo entering the country, are struggling to cope with the backlog.

Meanwhile, China's Yantian port – one of the busiest in the world – has been forced to shut due to a cyclone, piling further pressure on supply chains.

10:55 AMGSK shares rise on £40bn takeover report

Shares in GlaxoSmithKline have jumped to the top of the FTSE 100 amid reports it's the target of what could be the largest private equity buyout ever.

The pharmaceutical giant's consumer arm is attracting attention from a string of suitors alongside preparations for a potential listing, Bloomberg reports.

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Advent International, Blackstone, Carlyle Group, CVC Capital Partners, KKR and Permira are also said to be among the interested parties.

A sale could also attract some of the world's largest pharmaceutical and consumer goods firms, with the consumer unit valued at as much as £40bn.

Shares in GSK rose as much as 4.8pc before dipping back to a rise of 2.7pc, giving the company a market valuation of just under £72bn.

10:46 AMTreasury plots easing of capital raising rulesLondon Stock Exchange capital raising rules Treasury – REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

From commodities to equities now, as the Treasury has unveiled what could be a major post-Brexit overhaul of stock exchange rules.

The government is launching a review to examine whether rule changes and new technology could make capital raising more efficient for companies already listed on UK markets.

It will look at shortening the time frames for lengthy cash stock offerings such as rights issues, alongside other changes such as allowing enhanced retail investor participation in capital raisings.

It's part of wider-ranging reforms that are being considered to boost the UK's status as a financial hub after Brexit, and follows recommendations made in Lord Hill's report on listing rules, published in March.

The call for evidence launches today, with a report to government due early next year. Mark Austin, a lawyer at Freshfields, will lead the process.

10:33 AMEU looks to secure gas supply to Ukraine

Meanwhile, the EU is now looking at different ways to ensure Ukraine has a steady supply of gas over the winter amid concerns Russia could slash its output.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said reverse flows could come from Slovakia, which since September 2014 has had an interconnector with Ukraine.

It comes amid rising tensions as Ukraine pushes the EU to punish Russia for what it says is Moscow's attempt to use gas supplies as a weapon against Europe.

Ukraine is also feuding with Hungary after its neighbour signed a new long-term energy deal with Russia that threatens Ukraine's future supply.

10:21 AMRussia taps into gas stockpiles to stabilise marketRussian energy gas prices Gazprom Europe supply – REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Russia says it's begun tapping into its stockpiles to start pumping more natural gas into Europe in an effort to stabilise the turbulent market.

Sergei Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister, told the BBC that state-owned energy giant Gazprom had started using its reserves, while denying that Russia that been withholding supplies from Europe even as prices soared.

He said: "We favour energy security of Europe; we want to work collaboratively… Gazprom has in fact started pumping out from its reserves into the pipelines to stabilise the market."

He added: "We work deliberately, quietly, soberly towards stabilisation. It's not in our interest to rock the boat further."

A group of EU politicians has asked the European Commission to investigate Gazprom's role in the rising prices, saying its behaviour has made them suspect market manipulation and an "effort to pressure" Europe to agree a fast launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Both Gazprom and the Kremlin have denied the accusations.

10:04 AMMoney round-up

Time to check in on the Telegraph's Money team – here are some of their top stories today:

  • 'Utter catastrophe': Builders quitting, no materials and soaring costs ruin renovation dreams – As the construction supply chain is crippled, homeowners' plans are falling by the wayside

  • This pension tip could boost your income – but don’t fall foul of the taxman’s rules – Pensions doctor: so-called 'cash recycling' can increase your retirement pot, if done correctly

  • Ryanair blocks passengers from flights unless they pay back Covid refunds – Budget airline says customers who used 'chargeback' rules to receive a refund cannot fly

  • Help your children buy a property with this tax-efficient plan – Equity release is an increasingly popular option to help family members buy their own home

09:59 AMConsumers warned over price rises as aluminium soarsAluminium prices products iPhone – Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Tom Jones, chief executive of Aluminium Federation, has warned that surging aluminium prices are bound to lead to bigger price tags for a host of consumer products, from cars to iPhones and canned drinks, reports my colleague Matt Oliver.

Prices have jumped to 13-year highs on the back of the energy crisis, ongoing supply chain disruption and rocketing demand as economies bounce back from Covid-19.

Mr Jones told the Telegraph: "The rise in prices we're seeing started well before the energy crisis but it has now been compounded by it – and if factories are forced to shut down that will result in less being produced and prices could rise even further.

"Almost everything you touch these days has aluminium in it, whether that is cars, your smartphone, computers or canned soft beverages. And as a company, if your input costs are going up then your output costs are absolutely going to go up as well.

"So this could very well affect the prices consumers pay – perhaps not immediately, but it will filter through."

He called on the Government to provide more support to UK heavy industry, which he said was being left at an increasing disadvantage after European governments stepped in to help their own companies.

09:52 AMFelixstowe port asks shipping firms to help clear backlog

There's some more in from Flexistowe port, which is asking shipping lines to remove empty containers as quickly as possible to help clear the backlog.

A spokesperson said:

In common with other major ports in the UK and beyond, the Port of Felixstowe is experiencing impacts of the global supply chain crisis.

The pre-Christmas peak, combined with haulage shortages, congested inland terminals, poor vessel schedule reliability and the pandemic, has resulted in a build-up of containers at the port. The vast majority of import containers are cleared for collection within minutes of arriving and there are over 1,000 unused haulier bookings most days. However, the situation is improving and there is more spare space for import containers this week than at any time since the beginning of July when supply chain impacts first started to bite.

Empty container levels remain high as import containers are returned and we are asking shipping lines to remove them as quickly as possible.

09:43 AMFuel price surge weighs on airlines

While there are positive noises coming from airlines this morning, it's worth also pointing out a major potential headwind.

Though bookings are picking up as restrictions ease, the surge in oil prices is sparking fears that jet fuel prices could also rocket over the winter months.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: "There are cost pressures on the industry at the moment – the type of things that will hit everybody.

"Clearly of course it depends on your hedging, but the pressure are the same for everyone."

The worries took their toll in airline stocks. Alongside EasyJet's decline, British Airways owner IAG was down 2.4pc while Ryanair – which has said it's 50pc hedged on jet fuel for the second half of the year – fell 2pc.

09:36 AMLufthansa pays back £1.3bn in state aidLufthansa state aid airline recovery – REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

There are more signs of recovery in the airline sector courtesy of Lufthansa, which said it's paid back €1.5bn (£1.3bn) in state aid obtained during the pandemic.

The payment comes on the back of a €2.2bn capital increase as the carrier, which is part-owned by the German state, banks on a revival of demand for air travel next year.

Lufthansa added it also intends to pay off an aid tranche worth €1bn by the end of the year. The carrier had already paid back a state loan of €1bn in February.

09:31 AMEasyJet shares slide on £1bn loss

EasyJet has struck an upbeat tone about the recovery in air travel, but that's failed to impress investors, who seem to be focusing in on the airline's headline loss.

The company said it expects to fly 70pc of its pre-Covid capacity in the autumn after enjoying a sharp jump in bookings as travel restrictions were relaxed.

However, it predicts a pre-tax loss of between £1.14bn and £1.18bn for the year to the end of September, when travel bans had an even more severe impact on bookings.

In the best case scenario this would beat consensus of a loss of £1.175bn. Still, shares slid 2.3pc following the update.

09:16 AMGerman investor confidence plunges to pandemic low

German investor confidence has fallen for the fifth straight month to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic as Europe's largest economy is hammered by material shortages.

The latest survey from ZEW places sentiment at 22.3 in October, down from 26.5 in September and below forecasts. It's the lowest reading since March 2020, when the first wave of Covid-19 hit.

Germany's key manufacturing industry – in particular car makers – has been hit hard by supply chain bottlenecks that have left factories unable to keep up with demand.

Major car manufacturers including Volkswagen and Opel have been forced to curb production or shut plants entirely due to shortages of material such as semiconductors.

08:52 AMCyclone closes Chinese portYantian port Shenzhen China bottleneck supply chain – Chen Wen/China News Service via Getty Images

Global supply chains are facing further pressure after a tropical cyclone forced the closure of a major Chinese port.

The number of ships waiting to enter Yantian port in Shenzhen – one of the world's busiest ports – has jumped to the highest level since August.

There are currently 67 vessels waiting outside the port, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, raising fears of further pressure on supply chains.

The port suspended pickup and drop-off of containers as cyclone Kompasu approached China's southern coastline. It's the second tropical storm to affect the region in the last few days.

The shutdown comes on top of bottlenecks at two major US ports, as well as Felixstowe.

08:44 AMCredit Suisse turns cautious on UK stocks amid bottlenecks

It's not just retailers who'll be worried about backlogs at ports – it seems the UK's supply chain issues could have a wider impact on stocks.

Credit Suisse have struck a more cautious tone on the market due to the ongoing challenges.

In a note strategists wrote that supply bottlenecks in product and labour markets "appear worse than elsewhere".

They recommended that investors buy pricing power through overweight-rated stocks such as Diageo, Relx and Kingfisher.

However, they argued that non-energy supply chain troubles were near their peak.

08:24 AMEasyJet sales jump five-fold as rules relaxed

Some more details on EasyJet's positive update this morning:

The airline said it saw a five-fold increase in bookings in the days after the government relaxed travel restrictions, with passengers on the hunt for winter sun.

Boss John Lundgren described the announcements as a "good step in the right direction", but called for an end to all travel restrictions for double-jabbed passengers.

He said: "We had a 400pc increase to Egypt and Turkey, so customers are eager to go and the testing is a big obstacle for them to go.

"It's important to note that from July 1 the rest of Europe removed all restrictions for double-vaccinated passengers and clearly that's what we'd like to see happen in the UK."

08:13 AMPound steadies on jobs recovery signs

Sterling has steadied against the dollar this morning after fresh figures showed UK payrolls rose above pre-Covid levels with record hiring.

The pound was trading flat at $1.3592 after dipping as much as 0.1pc. Against the euro it gained 0.1pc to 85p.

Thu Lan Nguyen at Commerzbank said: "Labour market data was mostly GBP positive. Employment growth was decent and wage growth even surprised slightly on the upside, which might fuel inflation concerns among Bank of England monetary policy committee members."

Payrolls climbed by a record 207,000 last month, while job vacancies hit an all-time high of 1.2m.

08:07 AMShopping trips drop amid petrol panic buyingSupermarket Kantar petrol panic buying – Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The number of trips to the supermarket made by shoppers slumped over the last month – in part because of the panic buying of fuel.

The latest figures from Kantar show the average household made 15.5 store visits, marking the the lowest monthly figure since February.

Among the major supermarkets, Tesco continues to grow ahead of its rivals with sales rising by 1.2pc in the 12 weeks to Oct. 3 compared to last year. Its market share now stands at the highest level since February 2019.

Lidl was the only other retailer to post growth over the 12 weeks, and sales there edged up by 0.4pc, while Aldi 12-week sales dipped by 0.4pc.

At the rest of the big four supermarkets, Sainsbury sales fell by 1.5pc, Morrison sales dropped by 4pc and sales at Asda were down 1.7pc. Ocado's sales fell by 5.9pc, while sales at Waitrose were flat.

07:53 AMLadbrokes owner posts online growth amid takeover talks

Entain, the owner of brands including Ladbrokes and Coral, said its online business has continued to grow strongly as it mulls a £16.4bn takeover offer from US rival Draftkings.

The FTSE 100 company posted net gaming revenue growth of 4pc in the fourth quarter, rising to 7pc for its online division. Retail revenue slipped 1pc over the period.

Draftkings has made an approach to buy Entain's non-US assets, leaving MGM Resorts free to buy Entain’s 50pc share of its American joint venture.

The company said BetMGM continued to deliver "strong growth", with a 23pc market share across the US in sports betting.

Shares dipped 0.3pc in early trading.

07:40 AMFTSE risers and fallers

The FTSE 100 has started in negative territory this morning, sliding 0.8pc to 7,091 points.

Miners Anglo American and Rio Tinto are among the biggest drags after iron ore and metals prices halted their recent rally.

AstraZeneca is also weighing on the index, even after a positive update on its Covid cocktail antibody on Monday. Packaging firm Bunzl is a rare bright spot, rising 1.7pc.

Meanwhile, the domestically-focused FTSE 250 is down 0.5pc.

07:31 AMEasyJet boosts capacity as recovery takes offEasyJet capacity travel restrictions – Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

EasyJet has said it will boost its capacity to around 70pc of pre-Covid levels this quarter after enjoying a surge in bookings since the easing of travel restrictions.

The budget airline said its losses halved over the summer compared to last year, while cash flow turned positive. Bookings have soared to places like Egypt and Turkey and capacity to the Canary Islands is at 140pc of 2019 levels for the half-term holidays later this month.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We have seen city breaks beginning to return alongside growing demand for leisure travel from customers looking for flights and holidays to popular winter sun destinations.”

EasyJet was flying at only about 58pc of 2019 levels in July, August and September as travel restrictions lingered. It's now hoping to capitalise on pent-up demand and said it expects capacity to grow throughout 2022.

Shares rose as much as 1.7pc in early trading, before turning negative.

07:23 AMJob figures fuel rate rise fears

Get the full lowdown on the employment figures from my colleague Tim Wallace.

He writes that Britain is battling a dramatic labour shortage as markets bet on a rise in interest rates to hold back inflation.

It raises pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates sooner rather than later as officials fear shortages combined with booming demand will push inflation well above their 2pc target. If wages follow suit, the fear is that inflation could become entrenched, requiring sharper rate rises later if prices are not controlled promptly.

Read Tim's full story here

07:18 AMExpert reaction: Jobs market has a 'vacancy paradox'

Kitty Ussher, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, says the latest employment numbers highlight the gulf between available jobs and skills.

Unemployment is now on a firm downward march. And, with the number of people reporting they are ‘away from work’ now at or even below pre-pandemic levels it seems unlikely that the end of the furlough scheme will cause the spike in unemployment that was previously feared.

We are starting to see a vacancy paradox in the jobs market: record-high job adverts but still more people unemployed than there were before the pandemic. The answer appears to be that those people seeking work do not have the skills or availability that employers need. Businesses will be looking to the government to prioritise lifelong skills and retraining to help them find the teams they need to expand and grow.

07:14 AMPort congestion threatens Christmas

More on the situation at UK ports, which is adding further pressure to supply chains that are already under strain.

Congestion has been widespread at ports around the world since last year, but the problem is said to be particularly acute in Britain due to the shortage of HGV drivers.

Felixstowe port said it was now taking about 10 days before cargo could be taken inland to be unloaded, up from the usual four and half days.

It told the Financial Times that the “situation was improving” and that it had the most space for inbound containers since the beginning of July.

Still, as cargo begins to pick up as we approach Christmas, some importers are now looking for alternative modes of transport – such as rail and air – to get their goods into the country.

Meanwhile the US is also facing severe supply chain troubles, with 62 ships waiting to dock at America’s two largest ports.

Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, which handle 40 per cent of containerised cargo entering the country, are struggling to cope with the backlog.

07:08 AMFTSE 100 opens lower

The FTSE 100 has dropped at the open as surging oil prices offset recovery in the jobs market.

The blue-chip index is down more than 1pc at 7,072 points.

06:57 AMEmployment and wage growth

There are two other key stats to pull out of the deluge of data this morning.

First is the unemployment rate, which was 4.5pc in the three months to August. This is 0.5 percentage points higher than before the pandemic, but 0.4 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.

Second is wage growth, which rose to between 4.1pc and 5.6pc in the three months through August – a sign of further price pressures that could push the Bank of England to act.

06:51 AMPayrolled employees recover

Meanwhile, HMRC figures show there were 29.2m payrolled employees in September, a rise of 3.6pc compared with the same period of the previous year and a rise of and a rise of just over 1m people over the 12-month period.

Compared with the previous month, the number of payrolled employees increased by 0.7pc last month – equivalent to 207,000 people.

The growth means the number of people on payrolls has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

HMRC payroll labour job market – HMRC06:46 AMTransport and storage lead vacancies

Job vacancies have bounced back from pandemic lows and are now at the highest level on record.

The ONS figures show that transport and storage were the sectors with the highest rate of quarterly growth, reflecting the labour shortage – especially among HGV drivers – that has put a strain on supply chains.

ONS vacancies job growth – ONS06:39 AMJob vacancies hit record high

Good morning.

Job vacancies have surged to a record high while the number of payrolled employees has recovered to its pre-Covid levels, signalling a robust recovery in the UK job market.

Vacancies rose to 1.1m in the three months to September, while employers added 207,000 workers to their payrolls.

The figures, which cover the last months of the furlough scheme, may embolden the Bank of England to increase interest rates as soon as this year.

5 things to start your day

1) More tax raids inevitable to beat social care crisis, economists warn Further tax rises will be necessary to tackle the health and social care crisis as the hikes announced by Boris Johnson are not enough to fund the NHS.

2) UK start-ups score record £20bn from tech investors Technology backers have ploughed record amounts of cash into British SMEs this year.

3) Cost of living crisis triggers recession fears Escalating energy prices, supply chain bottlenecks and tax hikes mean some economists now worry Britain faces fresh fall.

4) ‘Making a profit is more stressful than overseeing public finances’, says John Lewis boss Chairman Dame Sharon White said last night that overseeing billions of pounds of taxpayer money was an easier job than running the retailer.

5) Ex-Chancellor Hammond joins London crypto firm 'Spreadsheet Phil' will serve as an adviser to Copper in his latest private job since leaving politics.

What happened overnight

Asian shares dropped and the safe-haven dollar held firm on Tuesday as a global energy crunch fuelled inflation fears, clouding investor sentiment before the US corporate earnings season.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.9pc in early trade, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild losses. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, fell 0.43pc.

Australian shares slipped 0.29pc while Japan's Nikkei stock index slid 1.03pc.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.75pc lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index opened down 1.35pc.

Coming up today

Interim results: French Connection

Trading update: Entain

Economics: BRC retail sales (UK), unemployment rate (UK), claimant count rate (UK), average earnings (UK), economic sentiment (EU)

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