Nord Stream 2 Russia Gazprom gas crisis Europe – REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

  • UK snubbed in first stage of €2bn hydrogen plant scheme

  • Treasury prepares to launch online sales tax​

  • FTSE 100 falls 0.2pc at the open

  • Roger Bootle: Britain needs to stop inflation now with rate rises starting next month

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Russia has already pumped its controversial new Nord Stream 2 pipeline full of gas, piling pressure on Germany to approve the project.

The pipeline, funded by Kremlin-owned energy giant Gazprom and its European partners, is expected to be given the green light to start commercial sales to Europe, but the process could take several months.

The pipeline’s operator said around 177m cubic metres of technical gas has already been pumped, meaning it was ready for operation. Technical gas is needed to maintain pressure in the pipeline for future gas sales.

The Nord Stream 2 project has faced opposition from the US, which has warned it will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian energy.

But the Kremlin has said the pipeline could help to ease the supply crunch in the European gas market, leading to warnings from some EU politicians that President Vladimir Putin was using the crisis as political leverage.

12:41 PMCity of London now half full as bankers lead sluggish office returnCity of London footfall pandemic home working – Eye Ubiquitous/REX/Shutterstock

The City of London is now just over half full as bankers lead the gradual return to the office after the pandemic.

Footfall the Square Mile was at 51pc of February 2020 levels on Oct 13, according to an analysis by Orbital Insight, which monitors activity through satellites and mobile phone data.

Canary Wharf is even busier – hitting 59pc on Wednesday – though both financial hubs are lagging behind Wall Street, where footfall has reached around two-thirds of its pre-pandemic levels.

The figures show it's been a slow return to the office, despite hopes Britons would pour back into work after the easing of lockdown measures.

It's also unclear how much busier offices will get – particularly at the beginning and end of the week.

Story continues

Separate data from Freespace showed office occupancy across Europe was 14pc on Mondays and just 11pc on Fridays, well below the level seen on other weekdays.

A more flexible working set-up appears to be the most popular option. According to a survey by JP Morgan, more than 80pc of London-based office employees consider working full time either from home or from the office their least preferred options.

12:24 PMFTSE 100 falls on rate hike worries

Time for a lunchtime update on the FTSE 100, which has extended its losses. The blue-chip index is now down 0.5pc at 7,198 points.

British Airways owner IAG is the biggest laggard, dropping 3.8pc. It had been among travel stocks to end the week on a high after the US said it will lift its UK travel ban on Nov 8. AstraZeneca and Diageo are also dragging down the index.

There's some upward momentum coming from miners, which have benefited from surging commodities prices. Glencore, BHP, National Grid and Shell are all providing the strongest gains.

The FTSE 250 is down 0.2pc with the biggest movement still coming from Playtech which has soared 58pc after it announced a £2.7bn takeover offer from Australian rival Aristrocrat.

11:42 AMTotal opens North Sea offshore wind hubTotalEnergies wind farm North Sea renewables green energy – Dave Hughes

In more wind-related news, TotalEnergies said it's opening an offshore wind hub within its existing centre for UK North Sea oil and gas.

The French company said it will use the expertise it's built in Aberdeen over the last 50 years and enable staff to shift their skills from oil and gas to renewables amid a shift to green sources of energy.

Chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said: “With the energy transition gathering speed, we see Scotland as a great place to broaden our relationship by investing in offshore wind.”

It's the latest in a string of green energy investments by Total, which expects global oil demand to peak before 2030 because of the shift to low-carbon sources.

It purchased a majority stake in a large wind farm off the coast of Scotland last year and made an investment in a smaller floating-wind project in Wales. It has also partnered with Macquarie's Green Investment Group is several other wind farm projects.

11:21 AMGerman power prices plunge on record wind forecast

Meanwhile, there's been a much-needed easing of energy prices in Germany, where a gust of very windy weather is expected later this week.

Low levels of generation from wind turbines has been one of the factors behind Europe's energy crisis, as countries have been forced to fire up more coal and gas plants. Output was down 8pc last month compared to a year earlier and is lagging in October as well.

But forecasts for gusty weather pushed German power prices down to their lowest level for a working today since the end of July.

UK wind output is also poised to hit record levels on Thursday.

11:09 AMUS futures slip on inflation fears

Wall Street is set to start the week on the back foot as inflation fears cast a shadow over upcoming corporate results.

Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both fell 0.3pc, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.4pc.

Facebook, Google-owner Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Intel were all in the red ahead of markets opening. Disney fell 1.6pc after Barclays downgraded the media giant's stock to "equal weight" from "overweight".

Impressive results from major Wall Street banks last week set a positive tone for third-quarter results season. Netflix, Tesla and Intel are among the companies set to report this week.

But surging oil prices have fuelled inflation concerns, while lacklustre economic growth figures in China have also soured sentiment today.

10:56 AMGas prices jump as Russia keeps a lid on supply

Russia has opted not to pump more gas into Europe even after President Vladimir Putin said he was prepared to boost supplies, showing the Kremlin is maintaining its tight grip on the market.

Gazprom doesn't plan to send more gas via pipelines through Ukraine next month, according to the results of several auctions this month. Instead it will send only limited supplies through Poland.

It comes despite comments from President Putin, who said he was “prepared to discuss any additional steps” to boost suppliers and calm the turbulent market.

UK gas prices jumped almost 12pc to 262p a therm while prices on the Dutch exchange – the European benchmark – rose 13pc.

It comes after Russia said it's already pumped gas into its controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is still awaiting approach from German regulators. The Kremlin has said the pipeline could help ease gas supply issues across the continent.

10:39 AMBrussels vows to avoid 'cliff edge' over post-Brexit clearing rulesMairead McGuinness EU clearing houses – OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The EU's head of financial services has vowed to avoid a "cliff edge" or market instability in the bloc's decision over European banks' ability to access UK clearing houses.

Mairead McGuinness said the European Commission would not engage in “any sudden twists and turns” on a decision over the current temporary licence – fuelling speculation that it will extend the current deadline of June.

The Irish commissioner said a decision could come within weeks, though she stuck by the EU's demand that euro-denominated derivatives business move to the EU over the longer term after Brexit.

She told the Financial Times: “We have to make sure that there is no instability in the short-term, but we also have to look at our long-term interests.

“They should read my lips and hear what I am saying. We do view this as a strategic issue for us in the medium, long term.”

10:30 AMGoldman predicts November interest rate hike

Goldman Sachs reckons the Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates in November, adding further momentum to market expectations of a rapid tightening of policy.

In a note Goldman economists wrote: “While we view it as a close call between a November and December lift-off, we think the November meeting is slightly more likely given it comes with a press conference and updated projections within the Monetary Policy Report.”

The US investment bank now expects three rate hikes at alternate MPC meetings, taking the Bank's benchmark rate to 0.75pc by May and 1pc by the end of next year.

It comes after more hawkish comments from Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, who said the central bank would "have to act" to tackle rising inflation.

10:16 AMSunak considers cutting VAT on energy bills

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering slashing VAT on energy bills in what would be a significant intervention to ease the strain of soaring prices on households.

Tim Wallace has the details:

Rishi Sunak is considering a reduction in the 5pc VAT rate on household energy bills, in a move that would reduce the pain of soaring prices for consumers.

The price cap rose more than 12pc this month amid global shortages and surging wholesale gas prices.

More than a dozen energy suppliers have gone bust since August.

Energy is already taxed at less than the 20pc VAT rate and the Government is unlikely to be keen to cut tax on fossil fuel use ahead of the looming COP26 conference. However, the Chancellor is looking at the measure, amounting to a tax break of up to £1.5bn a year, due to pressures on the cost of living, the Financial Times reported.

Inflation is already above 3pc and is expected to rise to more than 4pc in the coming months, more than double the Bank of England’s 2pc target as the economic recovery combines with supply shortages of manufactured goods around the world to force up prices.

Read more on this story here

10:09 AMNatWest chief: Rising jitters over supply chain troublesNatWest chief executive Alison Rose – Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

NatWest chief executive Alison Rose has warned that businesses are getting even more nervous about supply chain issues and staff shortages.

She told Bloomberg: “Clearly there are challenges they are facing as a result of coming out of lockdown and the supply chain issues.”

Ms Rose said that for now at least companies were paying back their coronavirus loans, with about 92pc of firms owing debts under emergency government-backed schemes repaying on time.

But she added: “This is really an issue around the speed of recovery and then confidence going into next year and the decisions businesses may be making around investing.”

09:57 AMUK shunned in Facebook's 10,000-job metaverse plansFacebook metaverse 10,000 jobs UK – Graeme Jennings – Pool/Getty Images

Britain has been snubbed from major investment plans once again this morning. First, it was Sir Jim Ratcliffe's €2bn hydrogen plant scheme. Now, it's Facebook's plans to develop a metaverse.

The social media giant has said it will create 10,000 highly-skilled jobs in Europe as it looks to create a virtual environment that covers everything from gaming to work and socialising.

Target markets for the hiring include the Republic of Ireland, as well as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and the Netherlands – but the UK isn't included.

In a blog post Facebook executives said the initiative was a vote of confidence in Europe's tech sector.

They wrote: “We look forward to working with governments across the EU to find the right people and the right markets to take this forward, as part of an upcoming recruitment drive across the region.”

09:49 AMMoney round-up

Time to check in with the Telegraph's Money team — here are some of their stories to kick off the week:

  • How to profit from stock market turmoil – When stock markets turn choppy, these funds rise

  • ‘Rules must change and protect landlords from problem tenants’ – The Secret Landlord: If no-fault evictions will be banned then we need a workable system in its place

  • ‘EasyJet charged me £168 just to change name on a ticket’ – Has a company treated you unfairly? Our consumer champion, Sally Hamilton, is here to help

  • Want a country home? Where to find Britain’s rural bargains – Some districts offer 40pc discounts on family houses

09:35 AMPlaytech shareholder backs £2.7bn takeover

Jason Ader, one of Playtech’s largest shareholders and chief executive of SpringOwl Asset Management, says:

This deal represents a compelling alignment of strategic interests and validates our long-held view of the value of Playtech.

This would be a significant victory for Brian Mattingley in his short tenure as Chairman and we congratulate him on his efforts to address our concerns as long-term shareholders and put the company in a position to unlock value and attract investment into Playtech.

09:29 AMSterling hits 20-month high on Bailey's rate hike hints

Sterling has jumped to its highest level against the euro in 20 months after Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey gave further signs of an upcoming interest rate hike.

Overnight, the pound rose against the euro to 84.25p – its highest since February 2020 – before losing some steam and trading flat at 84.42p. Versus the dollar, it dipped 0.2pc to $1.3717, though this was not far from a one-month high touched on Friday.

Sterling has gained 5.5pc against the euro this year, with analysts pointing to rate rise expectations as the biggest supporting factor.

Over the weekend Mr Bailey said the Bank of England will "have to act" in its monetary policy meetings on the risk of medium term inflation.

09:10 AMVirgin Media O2 launches first joint product

It's only been 150 days since the £31bn merger between Virgin Media and O2, but the newly-combined product has already thrown down the gauntlet to rival BT.

It's launching its first combined product, offering customers double the broadband speed and double the monthly data for no extra cost.

Virgin Media O2 is hoping the new service, dubbed Volt, will persuade customers of one brand to sign up to the other as well. It will also be looking to win market share away from BT.

Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media O2, said:

With Volt, we’re combining the speed and reliability of Virgin Media’s broadband and O2’s mobile networks alongside a variety of incredible perks to give our customers more.

The launch of converged services in less than 150 days as a business is a huge milestone moment and demonstrates the momentum we have behind our commitment to supercharge connectivity across the UK. This is just the start.

08:59 AMChina coal prices hit record high

China's power problems look set to worsen as coal prices rose to a record high on Monday.

Coal shortages have driven up fuel prices for power generators, leading to rationing for industrial users. In turn this has led to shutdowns at some factories, sparking further turbulence for global supply chains.

China has set out plans to ramp up coal output, but data published this morning showed it has continued to fall even as power demand surges to meet post-pandemic industrial needs.

The supply and demand mismatch helped push Chinese coal prices to another record on Monday. Coal for January delivery – the most actively traded contract on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange – climbed by the upper trading limit of 11pc to 1,829 yuan (£207.22) a tonne, signalling a belief in a persistent coal supply crunch.

The power crisis is contributing to a faltering recovery in the world's second largest economy. Data published this morning showed GDP growth slowed to 4.9pc in the third quarter, down from 7.9pc in the previous three-month period.

08:44 AMKlarna launches 'pay now' option amid regulator scrutiny

Klarna, the controversial 'buy now pay later' firm, is adding an option for consumers to pay immediately as it looks to ease regulatory concerns about its business model.

The Financial Conduct Authority has said it will start regulating the interest-free BNPL sector after user numbers soared during the pandemic. The watchdog is worried about money laundering and the cost of credit.

The Swedish company said other changes would include “strengthening affordability checks and checkout language, providing more ways for consumers to challenge complaints decisions on the rare occasions this becomes necessary, and removing the last remaining late fees on its regulated financing product”.

08:36 AMWorkers injured in Kuwait oil refinery fireMina al-Ahmadi Kuwait oil fire – KNPC/AFP via Getty Images

A major oil refinery in Kuwait has been hit by a fire that has injured a number of workers, though operations have been unaffected.

The blaze broke out in a unit of the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery but has since been brought under control, officials said.

A number of workers employed by a contractor suffered minor injuries and smoke inhalation, the state refiner said, adding that normal operations should resume in a few hours.

It comes as global gas shortages have fuelled an energy crisis, with prices soaring for consumers.

Last month, Kuwait's state refiner said it started full operation of a project to expand refining capacity and produce fuel that generates lower emissions, including expanding capacity at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery to 346,000 barrels per day.

08:26 AMUK snubbed in first stage of €2bn hydrogen plant scheme

Britain has been left out of an initial wave of hydrogen plants announced by Sir Jim Ratcliffe after the chemicals tycoon unveiled plans for factories in Norway, Germany and Belgium, reports my colleague Lucy Burton.

The billionaire’s company Ineos is to invest more than €2bn (£1.7bn) into electrolysis projects to make zero-carbon green hydrogen across Europe.

It said the first unit to be built will produce clean hydrogen through the electrolysis of water in Norway, powered by renewable electricity, and will serve as a hub to provide gas for the country’s transport industry.

This will be followed by projects in Germany and Belgium.

Ineos said that it also intends to invest in France and the UK, where the hydrogen business will be headquartered, but did not give details. An insider said more information would be shared shortly.

Read Lucy's full story here

08:18 AMEconomists and traders at odds over interest rate hike

Economists are becoming more and more downbeat about the UK's prospects for economic recovery, putting them at odds with market expectations of a rapid Bank of England interest rate hike.

The outlook for UK growth next year was trimmed by 0.4 percentage points to 5.1pc, the sharpest reduction for any major European economy, according to a monthly survey by Bloomberg.

Analysts don't expect any increase in the Bank's key rate – currently at 0.1pc – until May, with another hike coming in November.

That clashes with market sentiment, with traders bringing forward their bets for tighter policy. Recent hawkish comments from some Bank officials have raised expectations of a rate hike by the end of this year, with rates hitting 1pc in December 2022.

Economists also boosted their inflation forecasts, predicting readings above the Bank of England's 2pc target into the first quarter of 2023. While the Bank expects inflation to top 4pc later this year, it has forecast a fall back to 2.6pc by the third quarter of 2022.

08:09 AMPod Point to raise £120m in London float

Electric vehicle charging firm Pod Point has confirmed plans to float on the London Stock Exchange, saying it hopes to raise £120m through the listing.

Pod Point said the debut will consist of new shares as well as existing shares to be sold by Legal & General and some existing employees.

It expects current majority shareholder EDF to retain a stake of over 50pc, while Legal & General will remain a minority shareholder.

Pod Point said the offer process will be determined following a book-building process and shares are expected to begin trading in early November.

Erik Fairbairn, chief executive of Pod Point, said:

I am extremely pleased to confirm Pod Point's intention to float and I am delighted that we have reached this stage in the Company's growth. Now is the right time for us to list– as a market leader, we are well placed to capture the significant market opportunity ahead.

I believe our smart network of charge points will be key in enabling the mass adoption of electric vehicles, helping our customers to reduce their carbon footprint and supporting the UK to meet its net zero carbon emissions target. We look forward to welcoming our new investors and continuing to deliver value to all our stakeholders.

07:56 AMTHG's Matt Moulding gives up golden shareThe Hut Group Matt Moulding golden share

We've got some more details on Matt Moulding, the billionaire businessman whose ecommerce empire The Hut Group is suffering a crisis of investor confidence.

The company said Mr Moulding will cancel his special share rights that have given him control over acquisitions.

It added it would also carry out a further review of its corporate governance arrangements amid concerns about the founder's joint role as both chief executive and executive chairman.

THG, which listed in London last September, saw its share price plunge by more than a third last week after a disastrous investor presentation that failed to allay concerns about its valuation and strategy.

Shares rose as much as 8pc in early trading today as investors welcomed the move.

07:40 AMFTSE risers and fallers

While Playtech is the biggest market mover this morning, it's been a rather less dramatic start to the week for the FTSE 100.

The blue-chip index is down 0.2pc after closing last week at a 19-month high. HSBC, AstraZeneca and Diageo are among the biggest drags.

Meanwhile, The Hut Group rose as much as 8.4pc after the troubled online retailer said it would remove founder Matt Moulding's so-called golden share and pursue a listing on the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 slipped 0.1pc.

07:36 AMNational Express granted extension for Stagecoach takeover bidNational Express Stagecoach takeover – Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

National Express will have more time to prepare a firm offer for rival Stagecoach after regulators granted an extension to a previous deadline.

The two companies previously said they were in talks over an all-share deal valuing Stagecoach at around £445m, with the original deadline set for Oct 19.

But the Takeover Panel has now given National Express until no later than 5pm on Nov 16 to either make a firm offer or walk away.

If a takeover goes through, it would mark a reversal of fortunes for the two companies. In 2009, National Express rejected a £1.7bn merger approach made by Stagecoach.

07:27 AMPlaytech shares hit the jackpot

As expected, shares in Playtech have soared following the announcement of its £2.7bn takeover offer.

The company has jumped to the top of the FTSE 250, rising as much as 57pc to around 676p – just shy of Aristocrat's 680p per share offer.

07:15 AMFord to invest £230m in UK electric vehicle plantFord Halewood electric vehicle – Greg Harding/PA

Ford has said it will invest as much as £230m to start making electric vehicle parts at its existing factory on Merseyside.

The US car giant said its Halewood site will be retooled to start building electric power units from 2024 to gradually replace manufacturing of combustion-engine transmissions. It added that the move will help to safeguard 500 jobs.

It comes after Ford secured an undisclosed amount from a government fund aimed at accelerating the shift to electric vehicles.

While the investment is a major boost for the UK's automotive sector, it pales in comparison to the $1bn Ford has pledged to upgrade its factory in Cologne.

07:04 AMFTSE 100 dips at the open

The FTSE 100 has opened in negative territory this morning after China delivered disappointing economic growth figures for the third quarter.

The blue-chip index is down 0.2pc at 7,219 points.

It comes after the FTSE finished last week at a 19-month high, clawing back pandemic losses to rise above 7,200 for the first time since February 2020.

06:57 AMGaming group Playtech agrees £2.7bn takeover

The big corporate news of the morning comes from FTSE 250-listed gaming group Playtech, which said it's agreed a £2.7bn takeover by Australian slot machine firm Aristrocrat.

Playtech, which was founded by billionaire businessman Teddy Sagi, said it's agreed an offer worth 680p per share, representing a 58.4pc premium on its closing share price on Friday.

The move is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2022 if shareholders approve the deal, the firms said.

Mor Weizer, chief executive of Playtech, said:

This transaction marks an exciting opportunity in the next stage of growth for Playtech, and delivers significant benefits to our stakeholders, including our customers, our shareholders and our incredibly talented people.

This deal has the potential to enhance our distribution, our capacity to build new and deeper relationships with partners, and bolsters our technological capabilities.

The combination of our two companies builds one of the largest B2B gaming platforms in the world, with the people, infrastructure and expertise to provide our customers with a truly best-in-class offer across all areas of gaming and sports betting.

All eyes will now be on Playtech's share price when markets open in a few minutes.

06:51 AMExpert reaction: House prices party like it's 2007

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says:

The impact of the pandemic may still be compromising some areas of the economy but seems to be having a minimal effect on the housing market so far.

These figures confirm that asking prices remain high as supply is still below what we would have expected at this time of year and not rising fast enough to satisfy above-normal demand.

Buyers are continuing to seek extra space inside and out to reflect more time spent at home as part of new hybrid commuting/work arrangements while shrugging off concerns about inflation and higher interest rates for the time being at least.

06:49 AMHouse prices hit record high

Meanwhile closer to home – house prices have surged to a record high in every region of the UK for the first time since the financial crisis in 2007.

Asking prices rose 1.8pc in October, the biggest gain for this time of year since 2015, according to the latest house price index from Rightmove. The average cost of a home is now £344,445 – 6.5pc higher a year ago.

While the stamp duty holiday has now been wound down, the figures reflect a surge in activity as buyers looked to capitalise on low interest rates.

The Bank of England is expected to hike rates before the end of the year – a move that will curb cheap credit that has kept the housing market buoyant through the pandemic.

Tim Bannister at Rightmove said: “Mortgage interest rates are lower than they have ever been before, and lenders are keen to lend in a competitive market, with employment and wage growth also robust.”

London, which has lagged behind the rest of the country for the past year, posted the strongest growth in the past month. A 1.9pc gain put the average asking price of a home in the capital at £650,683.

06:36 AMExpert reaction: China 'on the cusp of deeper downturn'

Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics warns there could be worse to come for China.

In quarter-on-quarter terms, official GDP growth slowed to a crawl last quarter. And our China Activity Proxy points to a sharp contraction. Although some of the recent weakness in services is now reversing, industry and construction appear on the cusp of a deeper downturn […]

For now, the blow from the deepening property downturn is being softened by very strong exports. But over the coming year, foreign demand is likely to drop back as global consumption patterns normalise coming out of the pandemic and backlogs of orders are gradually cleared. All told, we expect growth of just 3pc on our China Activity Proxy next year, the slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

06:27 AMChina's economic growth slows

Good morning.

We start the week with some lacklustre figures from China, which has missed expectations for GDP growth in the third quarter.

The world's second-largest economy recorded growth of 4.9pc, down from 7.9pc in the previous three-month period.

It comes as China battles an energy crunch that has forced factories to shut down in a string regions, while Beijing is also struggling to contain a worsening debt crisis at property giant Evergrande.

Analysts said there were signs of more pain to come, raising pressure on authorities to do more to prop up the country's faltering economic recovery.

5 things to start your day

1) Treasury prepares to launch online sales tax: Rishi Sunak is stepping up plans for an online sales tax to level the playing field between tech behemoths and high street retailers after delaying an overhaul of business rates.

Treasury officials have accelerated work on a new e-commerce tax in the past few weeks and are scoping out details of a potential levy, including what goods and services will be covered, sources told The Daily Telegraph.

2) Revolutionary Australian battery company plans £100m London float: A battery storage developer spun out of the University of Sydney plans to list in London to raise more than £16m to commercialise its technology.

Autralia-based Gelion Technologies is expected to be valued at around £120m when it floats on Aim next month, having already raised cash from investors including Regal Funds Management and Elphinstone Group.

3) Millions of mobile customers to see bills hiked, warns Vodafone: Vodafone has warned that the bills of millions of mobile customers will rise if regulators increase a £300m “regressive tax” on consumers.

The mobile operator has lashed out at plans by Ofcom to introduce extra charges on the airwaves that underpin Britain’s mobile communications industry.

4) Squid Game to reel in $900m for Netflix: The hit show Squid Game is expected to generate almost $900m (£655m) of value for Netflix, according to internal estimates by the streaming company.

Around 132m people watched at least two minutes of Squid Game in the first 23 days of the violent South Korean show airing, according to data leaked to Bloomberg – beating a previous record set by the period drama Bridgerton.

5) Qataris take lead to bag Selfridges in £2bn auction: Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly in talks to buy Selfridges as the owners of the department chain eye a £4bn sale.

The Qatar Investment Authority is said to be mulling a deal to buy the retailer, with City sources telling the Mail on Sunday that the Gulf nation has taken a lead over potential rivals.

It would add to a growing high street empire run by the fund, which bought Harrods for £1.5bn from Mohammed Al-Fayed in 2010 and also purchased the Parisian retailer Printemps in 2013 for 1.75bn (£1.47bn).

What happened overnight

Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong equity markets fell on Monday after data showed China's economy grew more slowly than expected in the third quarter, weighing on regional stocks, although losses were capped by hopes of support from policymakers.

Oil prices, meanwhile, hit new multi-year peaks, continuing their recent surge amid a global energy shortage, with US crude at a fresh seven-year high and Brent at a three-year high.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.9pc in July-September from a year earlier, the weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020, as China grappled with power shortages, supply bottlenecks and sporadic Covid outbreaks as well as rising jitters over the property sector.

Chinese blue chips were down 1.53pc and the Hong Kong benchmark lost 0.56pc, although most of the falls came right after the bell, prior to the release of the data.

The weaker-than expected data weighed on regional benchmarks. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last down 0.2pc, while Japan's Nikkei lost 0.3pc. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were steady.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: Schroders (trading update)

  • Economics: Industrial production (US), GDP and retail sales (China)

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