Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan lira inflation – Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish lira plunged as much as 15pc after President Recep Erdogan declared he would win an “economic war of independence” and praised low interest rates.

The central bank cut rates last week from 16pc to 15pc despite inflation soaring to almost 20pc last month, which mainstream economists would usually try to control with higher interest rates.

One US dollar bought 11.5 lira before the latest slide, which took the currency briefly to more than 13 lira to the dollar before regaining some of its losses to trade at 12.5 to the dollar.

President Erdogan, who has sacked three central bank governors in recent years, said he was “pleased” with the latest policy move.

He has long held unconventional views on monetary policy, calling himself an “enemy” of high interest rates and arguing that low rates also keep inflation down. “We know quite well what we’re doing with the current policy, why we’re doing it, and the kind of risks it entails,” he said this week.

The lira has fallen by more than 40pc against the dollar this year and over the past five years has lost almost three-quarters of its value against the greenback.

Simon MacAdam at Capital Economics said the lira is “firmly in crisis territory” as the central bank “is once again bowing to political pressure from President Erdogan to deliver interest rate cuts”. Hopes of action to stop the slide were evaporating due to the President’s latest comments and his “record at sacking disobedient central bank governors”, he added.

Murat Unur at Goldman Sachs said the latest selloff was being driven by locals in Turkey moving their money abroad to flee negative real interest rates, meaning the authorities will have to change course if they want to stabilise the currency.

06:49 PMWrapping up

That's all from us for today. Thank you for following and we'll be back again tomorrow!

06:24 PMIndia to mirror China in crypto ban

The Indian government is working on a bill to ban private cryptocurrencies and create a framework for a digital coin backed by the country’s central bank.

Story continues

The shock announcement comes a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Bitcoin is a risk for younger generations and could "spoil our youth" if it ends up "in the wrong hands".

It’s the latest emerging economy to crack down on cryptocurrencies, after China made all related transactions illegal in September.

India’s cryptocurrency users have a total asset value of more than $6bn, according to The Economic Times.

06:01 PMNew restrictions hit travel sector recovery, warns Ryanair boss

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the renewed coronavirus restrictions in Europe are hampering the travel sector’s recovery.

A return to lockdown in Austria risks choking demand during the key festive period, while bookings for next summer could also be affected.

The US might even review the reopening of its borders, O’Leary said in a webinar broadcast by Eurocontrol.

“It’s inevitable that we will undermine confidence between now and Christmas and that will disrupt Christmas and it will also unsettle people between Christmas and New Year, when they normally start booking their summer holidays,” he said, adding that until last week “things were going great.”

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.05:36 PMEG Group directors to join Asda's board

Asda has appointed former M&S and Ocado chairman Lord Rose of Monewden and former Land Securities chair Dame Alison Carnwath to its board. They both will hold non-executive roles, Sky News reported.

The pair are both directors of petrol stations giant EG Group, which is owned by Asda shareholders Issa brothers, so the move could spark speculation of a merger between the two companies.

The Issas and private equity group TDR Capital acquired Asda for nearly £7bn last year.

EG Group recently tried to buy Asda's fuel retailing assets but it emerged last month that the deal was abandoned.

05:04 PMFTSE 100 closes slightly higher

The FTSE 100 has closed 0.1pc higher at 7,266, outperforming its fellow European indices thanks to a recovery in the oil price.

Energy giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell both advanced 1pc, although the top riser was Compass with a 5.6pc jump.

The catering giant impressed investors with higher-than-expected full-year profits and a return to dividend payments.

Safety equipment group Halma and online grocery retailer Ocado were the top fallers, down 5.7pc and 4.8pc respectively.

04:35 PMAstraZeneca unveils new £1bn facility in Cambridge

Good afternoon, this is Giulia Bottaro taking over from James Warrington for the rest of the day.

AstraZeneca is unveiling today its new Discovery Centre (DISC), a research and development facility designed to host over 2,200 research scientists.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is attending the event and will be shown around by chief executive Pascal Soriot and chairman Leif Johansson.

Our colleague Julia Bradshaw is on the scene:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.

The £1bn Cambridge plant will support the pharma giant’s focus on specialised and precision medicines as well as the development of next generation therapeutics, including nucleotide-based, gene-editing and cell therapies.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.04:12 PMElon Musk clashes with Binance chief over dogecoin glitch

Tesla founder and Twitter warrior Elon Musk is at it again – and this time it's Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao on the receiving end.

The electric car tycoon delivered a stinging rebuke to Mr Zhao after the cryptocurrency exchange limited withdrawals of meme-based digital currency dogecoin.

"Hey @cz_binance, what's going on with your doge customers? Sounds shady," Musk tweeted on Tuesday.

Binance hit back, saying it's rebuilding its dogecoin wallet entirely, resulting in a delay in withdrawals that may continue for another week.

It's the latest intervention by Mr Musk, who has previously sparked wild movements in cryptocurrency markets with his outspoken tweets.

His comments on dogecoin have fueled a dizzying rally in the digital coin's value this year – further fuelling regulatory scrutiny of volatile crypto assets.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.03:51 PMMartin Gilbert battles rival in River and Mercantile bidding warMartin Gilbert River and Mercantile – Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

River and Mercantile, the London-listed asset manager, has been approached by two rivals about a potential takeover, marking the latest attempted swoop in the deal-hungry industry.

Simon Foy has more:

Premier Miton and AssetCo have tabled separate bids for the company, which River and Mercantile said are conditional on the completion of the proposed £230m sale of its solutions business to Schroders.

The money manager said: "There can be no certainty that any offer will be made by either of AssetCo or Premier Miton, nor as to the terms on which any such offer might be made.”

AssetCo, which is chaired by City grandee Martin Gilbert, said its directors believed the two firms were “highly complementary” and a combination of the two would create “significant value” for the group’s clients, portfolio managers, employees and shareholders.

Mr Gilbert’s firm has been eyeing a buying spree for some time, having set aside a cash pile earlier this year to fund an expansion drive. AssetCo owns a 6pc stake in River & Mercantile and Mr Gilbert sits on its board as deputy chairman. However, he has excused himself from the position while discussions take place on a possible offer.

Meanwhile, Premier Miton, which had nearly £14bn under management at the end of September, said it had been exploring a bid for River and Mercantile for some time, adding that it believes the “scale and cultural alignment” between the two firms would deliver a “balanced and resilient business”.

03:41 PMGrowth fears wipe £9bn off Zoom's value

Zoom shares have crashed 15pc in early New York trading, wiping $12bn (£9bn) off the video conferencing firm's market value.

It comes after the company missed expectations for growth in large business customers – a closely-watched metric – over the third quarter.

Analysts at Bank of America cut the stock from buy to neutral, citing concerns about post-pandemic growth amid higher customer churn.

03:29 PMI haven't made my mind up on Channel 4 sale, says Culture SecretaryChannel 4 Great British Bake Off – Love Productions

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said she hasn't yet decided whether to press ahead with the privatisation of Channel 4.

Appearing in front of MPs on the culture select committee, Ms Dorries said: "I haven't made my mind up on Channel 4. What I'm interested in is how Channel 4 is going to survive in the future."

The Government is pushing for a sale of the Great British Bake Off broadcaster, which is state-owned by funded through advertising, as part of a wider review of the sector.

03:15 PMLottery operator Camelot bounces back despite retail troublesCamelot National Lottery – Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

National Lottery operator Camelot has bounced back strongly from the pandemic, though sales of tickets and scratch cards in shops are still below pre-Covid levels.

Sales hit £4bn in the six months to 25 September, up 2.7pc on the same period a year ago, driven by strong sales of tickets for its main Lotto draw.

Chief executive Nigel Railton said the company was now trading at around 90pc of pre-pandemic levels.

Camelot recently launched ticket sales at checkouts in Iceland and Aldi and is eyeing more tie-ups with retailers.

It comes as the company faces stiff competition to retain its licence to run the National Lottery as regulators prepare for a review next year.

02:47 PMWall Street opens lower

As expected, Wall Street has started on the back foot this afternoon as rising Treasury yields weigh on tech stocks.

The S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq opened 0.1pc and 0.3pc lower respectively. The Dow Jones fared much better, rising 0.7pc at the opening bell.

02:43 PMUber accused of trying to undermine workers' rights rulingUber Supreme Court workers’ rights – Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

It's nine months since the Supreme Court handing down its historic ruling forcing Uber to class its drivers as workers, but the saga isn't over yet.

The ride-hailing giant is now back in court in London to face accusations it's trying to undermine the ruling.

Uber has challenged a small part of the landmark ruling, where a judge’s comments suggest the tech firm should enter into a direct contract with passengers when providing car journeys. It argues this isn't the case.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) says Uber is trying to undermine the initial ruling. It says that, should the court side with Uber, the app will “avoid responsibility for the health and safety of drivers”.

Yaseen Aslam, president of the ADCU, said: “I thought the Supreme Court ruling was the end of the matter but just months later we are being forced back to court to defend this landmark ruling from Uber’s army of slick corporate lawyers who are determined to strip us of our rights.”

A spokesperson for Uber insisted the company is committed to the worker changes it made earlier this year and that “this legal procedure is seeking to clarify a different and narrow point of law.”

02:22 PMReady, Pret, Go (back to the office)Pret a Manger lockdown Covid – Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Experts at the Bank of England do not believe the recovery from Covid will be complete until next year. However, one measure of the economy suggests we are already back to normal – namely, sales of coffees and chicken Caesar baguettes.

Here's more from my colleagues Russell Lynch and Tim Wallace:

Sandwich chain Pret a Manger’s weekly data showed UK sales higher last week than in January 2020. The figures included London’s financial districts, airports and West End shopping districts, as well as regional towns, northern counties and Scotland, and marked the first time that sales have returned to pre-Covid levels.

Sales in Yorkshire have led the way – standing 61pc above January 2020 – followed by a 35pc rise for the London suburbs since the beginning of the pandemic as many people continue to work from home, the figures showed.

Districts where sales are still below pre-virus levels include the City of London, 13pc down as staff spend fewer days in the office, as well as the capital’s airports and mainline stations as rail and air travel remain depressed. Pret’s airport sales are still more than 20pc below pre-Covid levels.

Pret has come to be viewed by some economists as a bellwether for consumer habits in the wider economy. The company's upbeat news came as survey data showed Britain’s economy outpacing the eurozone, parts of which have been hit by a fresh wave of Covid infections.

02:09 PMUK to release 1.5m barrels from oil reserves

After the White House announced a major release of oil reserves, there's some more detail about the UK's role in the coordinated move.

Britain will make 1.5m barrels of oil available from its strategic stockpile. This is a modest contribution to the US-led coalition looking to ease surging prices, given the US has pledged 50m barrels.

A Government spokesman said the supplies would be made available to oil companies that want to stock up on oil in the coming weeks.

The sale would still leave UK reserves well above the 90 days of demand required by the International Energy Agency.

The spokesman said: "This is a sensible and measured step to support global markets as we emerge from the pandemic."

02:00 PMHambro Perks gears up for first UK Spac listingHambro Perks boss Dominic Perks

Venture capital firm Hambro Perks is plotting the first listing of a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) in London following a recent overhaul of stock market rules.

Hambro Perks is aiming to raise up to £150m through the float. It will then target acquisitions of late-stage tech firms, with a focus on the UK and Europe.

It follows a revamp of market rules to allow Spacs raising at least £100m to avoid an old requirement to suspend trading when an acquisition is announced. This was previously seen as a key obstacle to the success of blank-check listings in London – a trend that's grown in popularity in the US and Europe.

Hambro Perks is run by Dominic Perks, a former McKinsey consultant and Morgan Stanley banker.

Its investments have included PrimaryBid, which offers retail traders access to initial public offerings, as well as location startup What3Words, digital banking app Tide and Muslim dating platform Muzmatch.

Mr Perks said:

We’ve chosen to list HPAC in London because it’s the technology capital of Europe. The number of unicorns in the UK and Europe has grown significantly over recent years as we have seen a migration of talent and capital to private growth companies.

Investors want to back differentiated, scalable businesses with great leadership, and those are exactly the characteristics we’ll be seeking in our target.

01:40 PMZoom tumbles on signs of slowing growth

Shares in Zoom have dropped 10pc in pre-market trading on further signs the video conferencing giant's pandemic boom could be coming to an end.

The company said it had 512,100 large business customers in the third quarter. That's up 18pc on last year but behind analyst forecast. Gains for the closely-watched measures have been narrowing since the height of the pandemic.

Zoom beat expectations for both revenue and profits in the most recent quarter, yet doubts about its post-pandemic growth continue to weigh on shares, which have dropped almost 30pc this year.

01:21 PMAmazon's James Bond takeover is licence to hike streaming charges, unions warnAmazon MGM James Bond No Time to Die – Nicola Dove/MGM

Onto more glamorous things now…

There's a warning over Amazon's £6.4bn takeover of the studio behind James Bond, with unions arguing streaming prices will rise unless competition authorities block the spy franchise deal.

Ben Woods has the details:

A powerful group of American unions said the deal for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios would hand Amazon the power to reduce competition because it would have nearly three times as many shows as Netflix.

The alliance fears Amazon will charge rivals more to access its vast catalogue of films and television shows, which could ultimately mean higher monthly prices for viewers.

The Strategic Organizing Center, a group backed by the unions, claimed Amazon's library of movies and shows would swell to more than 55,000 titles compared to Netflix's 20,000.

In a letter to America's Federal Trade Commission, the group said: "The prospect of Amazon acquiring a trove of additional MGM content to build on Amazon's existing vast library should raise alarm bells.

"With control over MGM's vast library, Amazon may acquire enough market power over streaming content to raise prices for streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) competitors or for SVOD consumers."

Amazon unveiled its swoop for the Hollywood business behind the Silence of the Lambs and Gone with the Wind in May, as it moved to strengthen Prime Video's defences in an increasingly crowded streaming market.

01:03 PMExpert reaction: US oil release could prompt Opec rethink

Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank, says the release of oil reserves by consumers could prompt retaliation by Opec.

This is more than suggested by sources before. The question is the time horizon of the release and how Opec+ will react.

Some delegates said that Opec+ might rethink its strategy to increase output by another 400,000 bpd [barrels per day] at next week's meeting.

To put things into perspective, 50m barrels is equivalent to a production hike by 1.6m bpd for one month or by 1m bpd for seven weeks. This is quite significant.

12:53 PMM&S takes stake in women's fashion brand Nobody's ChildMarks & Spencer Nobody’s Child – REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Marks & Spencer has taken a 25pc stake in women's fashion brand Nobody's Child as it looks to beef up its branded clothing business.

Nobody's Child, which was founded in 2015, has grown rapidly over the last year and already benefits from partnering on M&S's online platform. M&S said the brand drives traffic as "the most visited guest brand" on its website.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, will see Nobody's Child continue to operate independently but it will be able to use M&S's investment and infrastructure to grow at scale, the companies said.

M&S's investment is part of its brand-focused strategy which has used different models including wholesale agreements, exclusive collaborations and strategic acquisitions to grow its clothing business.

The group also launched its first new Jaeger lines last month after buying the brand from administrators at the start of the year as part of the strategy.

12:48 PMBulb administrators set to hire Lazard to run auctionBulb chief executive Hayden Wood – Julian Andrews

Bulb's prospective administrators are reportedly expected to appoint Lazard to oversee a sale of the collapsed energy supplier.

Sky News reports that Lazard will be tapped to run an auction amid "significant" interest in a takeover of Bulb, which is the UK's seventh-largest supplier with around 1.7m customers.

The US investment bank had already been working with Bulb on a potential sale before its collapse, holding talks with prospective buyers including Octopus, Ovo and Shell.

Regulator Ofgem is said to be lining up restructuring experts at Teneo as special administrators in what will be the first test of a new regime designed to protect customers from a large energy firm failure.

12:38 PMUS to release 50m barrels of oil in bid to tame prices

US President Joe Biden has ordered 50m barrels of oil to be released from strategic reserves in a bid to bring down soaring energy costs.

The release, which will take the form of a loan and a sale, is being made alongside other strategic releases by China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain, the White House said.

It marks the first time the US has coordinated releases with some of the world's largest consumers and comes after production cartel Opec rebuffed calls for higher output to help keep a lid on prices.

Oil extended its losses following the announcement, with prices in New York falling as much as 1.9pc to $75.30 a barrel.

12:27 PMUS futures dip as rising yields hit tech stocks

US futures are pointing to a lower open on Wall Street this afternoon as rising Treasury yields weigh on tech stocks.

Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Dow Jones slipped 0.2pc and 0.1pc respectively, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 0.4pc.

Both the S&P and Nasdaq fell back from record highs on Monday as Joe Biden's decision to reappoint Jay Powell as Fed chair for another term sparked a volatile session.

While yield-sensitive tech stocks fell in pre-market trading, Wall Street's major banks were up between 0.2pc and 0.8pc on expectations of an interest rate hike.

12:13 PMJP Morgan regains title as world's most systemically important bank

JP Morgan has regained its status as the world's most systemically important bank after financial regulators recommended a higher capital burden for the lender.

The firm rose one place on the Financial Stability Board's annual ranking, published today.

Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas also increased one level in this year’s assessment, which lists 30 firms deemed global systemically important banks.

But JP Morgan is the only bank to face an additional 2.5pc buffer, whereas last year it sat alongside Citigroup and HSBC in the 2pc category.

For the US banks it's largely a symbolic exercise, however, as they already have higher requirements than those recommended by the FSB.

12:01 PMTurkish lira slides as Erdogan defends rate cutsRecep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey lira – Anadolu Agency

While the Bank of England weighs up an interest rate rise, it's a very different picture over in Turkey.

The lira has tumbled nearly 9pc today after President Tayyip Erdogan defended a series of rate cuts and vowed to win his "economic war of independence" despite pleas to reverse course.

The currency tumbled to as low as 12.49 to the dollar, reaching new record lows for the 11th consecutive session. So far this year, it's lost 40pc of its value, including a near 20pc decline since the start of last week.

President Erdogan has piled pressure on Turkey's central bank to implement a series of aggressive cuts in an effort to boost investment and jobs, despite soaring inflation and and huge depreciation in the lira.

Former central bank deputy governor Semih Tumen, who was dismissed by the president last month, called for an immediate return to policies which protect the lira's value.

He said: "This irrational experiment which has no chance of success must be abandoned immediately and we must return to quality policies which protect the Turkish lira's value and the prosperity of the Turkish people."

11:50 AMBank of England official strikes hawkish tone

Jonathan Haskel – usually one of the more dovish MPC members – has struck a more hawkish tone in his latest comments.

His insistence that a tight labour market will force the Bank into a rate rise echoes the view of Governor Andrew Bailey. Following the Bank's surprise decision to hold rates earlier this month, Mr Bailey said jobs data would be a key factor in deciding the timing of a move.

That's not to say it's a done deal, though. The Governor – who's gained the moniker 'unreliable boyfriend' over his previous communications – seemed to introduce some doubt after saying the inflation situation was "febrile".

Mr Haskel also pointed to GDP growth, which came in lower than expected in the third quarter. Forecasts for the fourth quarter are also 3.5pc below the Bank's pre-pandemic forecast.

He said: "In this case therefore, one might want to wait before normalising policy such that normalisation begins only once we are more confident that the recovery is entrenched."

11:14 AMGas prices rise as Russia blasts 'illegal' US sanctions

Gas prices are back on the rise today after the US imposed fresh sanctions targeting Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline – a move the Kremlin branded "illegal".

On Monday the White House imposed fresh sanctions on a shipping company and vessel involved in building the pipeline, which runs between Russia and Germany.

While any action against the gas link can stoke supply concerns, the latest sanctions are likely too little too late, as the pipeline has already been completed and filled with gas.

Still, benchmark Dutch prices rose as much as 8.7pc on Tuesday, while the UK equivalent is up 6.6pc at 225p a therm.

11:03 AMPublisher Reach slides on cost warningsReach Daily Mirror Express print newspaper – Leon Neal/Getty Images

The publisher of the Mirror and Express newspapers tumbled this morning after it warned on rising costs in print production.

Reach said trading was ahead of expectations, driven primarily by 17.2pc growth in digital revenues as the company continues to adapt to new reading habits.

But the company warned it had begun to see an increase in the cost of print production, particularly for energy and newsprint.

It said: "With the longer-term effect on the cost base still emerging, we are closely monitoring developments and will continue to prioritise efficiencies to mitigate the impact."

Shares dropped 5.1pc following the update.

10:45 AMTraders bet £2bn against the pound

Sticking on the pound, there's rising momentum behind bets against sterling, as my colleague Tom Rees reports.

Traders have wagered a £2bn bet on a plunge in the pound after the Bank of England failed to deliver on a widely expected interest rate rise earlier this month.

Shorts predicting a pound slump have soared to their highest level since June 2020, weekly trading data suggests. It marks a sharp reversal from just a few weeks ago when bets for the pound were at a near four-month high as investors geared up for a string of rate rises to curb the surge in inflation.

However, the Bank failed to follow through on its hawkish signals and held rates at a record low of 0.1pc at its November meeting.

The Bank’s rate-setters were criticised for misleading markets as they held fire to wait for the first jobs market data following the end of the furlough scheme. Sterling slumped 1.2pc against the dollar on the day of the Bank's meeting.

10:42 AMPound slides despite inflation risks

Sterling has lost ground against both the dollar and the euro, despite fresh inflation data that could pave the way for a Bank of England interest rate rise.

The pound edged 0.3pc lower against the euro to 84.16p, but remained close to the 21-month high hit on Monday as the resurgence of Covid cases in Europe hit the single currency.

Fears of more restrictions in Germany, following Austria's full lockdown, sent the euro to its lowest level against the pound since February 2020 yesterday. But the currency strengthened after data showed eurozone business activity unexpectedly grew in November.

The pound was boosted by separate PMI data showing the fastest growth in new orders since June this month alongside record cost pressures, raising expectations of a rate hike.

Versus the dollar, the pound slipped 0.1pc to $1.3384, as US President Joe Biden nominated Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell for a second four-year term, reinforcing market expectations of rate rises next year.

10:28 AMGetir to buy ultra-fast grocery rival WeezyGetir Weezy grocery delivery – Getir

Grocery delivery firm Getir has said it's buying British rival Weezy, marking a fresh wave of consolidation in the crowded market for ultra-fast delivery services.

It comes after the Turkish firm last month said it would invest £100m in the UK. Terms of the takeover were not disclosed.

Getir launched in London in January and has since expanded to 15 towns and cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

The company, which is valued at $7.7bn (£5.8bn), said the takeover of Weezy marked its long-term commitment to the UK market.

Kristof Van Beveren, chief executive and co-founder of Weezy, said:

We are incredibly excited to continue our journey in disrupting the skyrocketing ultrafast grocery market. Getir has an unparalleled track-record of achievements and experience with an equally ambitious team.

Our alignment in purpose and culture is a winning formula for expansion globally and we will continue to deliver an exceptional offering to consumers in minutes.

10:12 AMExpert reaction: Stamp duty holding back property market

Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance, describes the fall in property transactions as "dramatic".

The argument for either reworking or scrapping stamp duty all together has never been louder or clearer. Stamp duty is the tax holding back a property market which would benefit now more than ever from greater levels of fluidity.

As inflation begins to bite, a continued lack of supply in the market will translate into higher property values. While this is great for existing property owners, it will exacerbate the issues first-time buyers have experienced in getting on the ladder.

Getting rid of stamp duty will encourage more transactional volume, increase the supply of property in the market, and accordingly ease some of the inflationary pressure on real asset values. It’s a no brainer at this point.

On a more positive note, the rise in non-residential transactions is consistent with what we are seeing in the market as more investors continue to return to commercial property following a particularly challenging lockdown-driven period.

10:09 AMHousing transactions slump after stamp duty holiday

October housing transactions plunged 52pc month-on-month to the lowest number in nearly a decade as the last of the stamp duty holiday savings disappeared.

My colleague Melissa Lawford has the details:

There were 76,930 transactions last month, according to HMRC’s provisional seasonally adjusted estimate. This was 28.2pc lower than in October 2020.

HMRC’s provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate was slightly higher at 85,090. But this was the lowest number in any October since 2012.

The end of the tax break, which ended for good in England and Northern Ireland on September 30, was key. In England, the drop was most extreme, with sales falling 33.4pc year-on-year.

Anna Clare Harper, of property consultants SPI Capital, said: “In short, a 10-year peak in transactions last month was followed by a 10-year low.”

Mr Harper added that transactions will continue to slow, but a significant reduction in house prices is unlikely while the cost of holding property remains low due to low cost fixed rate mortgages.

09:58 AMCaterer Compass resumes dividend but warns on rising costsCompass Group profit catering – Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Catering group Compass has resumed dividend payments as the easing of lockdown restrictions helped drive up profits, but it struck a cautious tone over labour shortages and rising costs.

The FTSE 100 firm said its pre-tax profits more than doubled to £464m in the year to the end of September, even as revenues dropped 10pc.

The world's biggest caterer benefited from cost-cutting methods, while revenues recovered to 88pc of pre-pandemic levels by the fourth quarter as economies reopened.

Compass, which halted dividends in April last year, resumed payouts with an annual dividend of 14p a share as it hailed record new business wins of around £2.1bn.

But it wasn't all rosy, as the company warned the short-term impact of labour shortages and inflation would weigh on margins.

Compass said:

There is still some uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment, particularly as it relates to labour shortages, inflation and the pandemic, which we expect to continue to impact our business in the nearer term.

That said, the new business pipeline continues to be strong and we remain very confident in the long term growth potential of the group supported by exciting significant structural market opportunities globally.

09:45 AMExpert reaction: Businesses face a testing winter

Rhys Herbert, senior economist at Lloyds Bank, said:

Despite today’s marginal decline the level of the composite PMI index remains consistent with continued growth in the economy. However, it is clear that supply constraints remain a very real near-term issue.

Both manufacturing and services continue to face a range of pressures including labour shortages, commodity price rises and supply constraints. With little sign that these pressures are set to ease near term, businesses face a testing winter with the pressures on manufacturing seemingly particularly acute.

More positively, today’s data indicated that demand for goods and services is still holding up. However, until supply constraints ease and inflation begins to fall back, concerns are likely to persist that consumer and business confidence could falter causing them to rein in spending.

09:42 AMExpert reaction: PMIs give green light for interest rate rise

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said:

A combination of sustained buoyant business growth, further job market gains and record inflationary pressures gives a green light for interest rates to rise in December.

Output growth across manufacturing and services came in slightly faster than expected in November, albeit heavily skewed towards the service sector as factories continued to struggle with supply shortages and falling exports.

Encouragingly, an acceleration in growth of new business hints that December should bring a strong end to the year, meaning the fourth quarter should see a welcome pick up in GDP growth after the slowdown seen in the third quarter.

09:40 AMUK business activity dips as inflation hits new record high

Business activity among UK private sector companies dipped in November as cost inflation jumped at its fastest rate on record.

The IHS Markit flash composite PMI came in at 57.7 in November, down fractionally from 57.8 in October but comfortably above the average seen in the third quarter of 2021.

Service sector growth outpaced the manufacturing recovery last month, although the latter saw its strongest expansion for three months.

New order intakes increased at the strongest pace since June, fuelled by robust rises in business and consumer spending.

But the increase in average cost burdens was the fastest since the index began in January 1998, driven by higher wages and a spike in prices paid for fuel, energy and raw materials.

UK PMI inflation – IHS Markit09:28 AMPets at Home pumps profit from pampered poochesPets at Home dogs grooming sales – GK Hart/Vikki Hart

Pets at Home is continuing to cash in on higher pet ownership, with dog and cat lovers now turning to more premium food and products to pamper their furry friends.

The company shrugged off supply issues to post pre-tax profits of over £70m in the six months to Oct 7 – more than 81pc higher than the same time last year.

Revenues were also up 18pc to £678m, including retail and online sales jumping 22pc on a like-for-like basis and revenues from its vet group up by more than a quarter.

Pets at Home has benefited from increased pet ownership during the pandemic, with sales of food and accessories growing over the recent period. Grooming revenues also rose sharply as owners began to show off their new dogs.

The company said full-year profit and sales were likely to hit the top end of expectations, sending shares up 7.4pc to the top of the FTSE 250.

09:16 AMExpert reaction: Eurozone braced for fresh disruption

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, says:

A stronger expansion of business activity in November defied economists’ expectations of a slowdown, but is unlikely to prevent the eurozone from suffering slower growth in the fourth quarter, especially as rising virus cases look set to cause renewed disruptions to the economy in December.

The manufacturing sector remains hamstrung by supply delays, restricting production growth to one of the lowest rates seen since the first lockdowns of 2020.

The service sector’s improved performance may meanwhile prove frustratingly short-lived if new virus fighting restrictions need to be imposed. The travel and recreation sector has already seen growth deteriorate sharply since the summer.

With supply delays remaining close to record highs and energy prices spiking higher, upward pressure on prices has meanwhile intensified far above anything previously witnessed by the surveys.

Not surprisingly, given the mix of supply delays, soaring costs and renewed Covid-19 worries, business optimism has sunk to the lowest since January, adding to near-term downside risks for the eurozone economy.

09:14 AMEurozone business activity picks up but Covid fears weigh

There's been a surprise uplift in business activity in the eurozone, though inflation and fears over rising Covid cases are clouding the outlook for the rest of the year.

The IHS Markit flash composite PMI rose for the first time in four months in November, climbing to 55.8 from 54.2 the previous month.

Services outperformed manufacturing once again, recording its strongest growth in three months. Manufacturing also picked up, though remained the second weakest seen over the past 17 months.

While the figures mark an improvement on October's six-month lows, the average reading for the fourth quarter so far is substantially lower than that of the third quarter, pointing to a weakening of economic growth in the last three months of the year.

This was reflected in business optimism about the outlook, which sank to a 10-month low on renewed Covid worries and lingering supply constraints.

IHS Markit PMI eurozone – IHS Markit08:59 AMAO World plunges on Christmas warningAO World Christmas trading inflation supply chain – Mark Waugh

Some more on AO World, which has lost a quarter of its value after issuing a rather gloomy trading update.

The retailer warned on its annual results, saying product shortages, price hikes and a cutback in consumer spending would all hit the peak Christmas trading period.

AO World sank to a £10m pre-tax loss in the six months to the end of September, compared to profits of £18m a year ago. Shares dropped by a quarter.

The company said it had already increased prices by as much as 12pc to offset soaring costs, but boss John Roberts warned there was more pain to come amid soaring inflation and continued supply troubles.

The group said festive trading was now expected to be "significantly softer" than previously forecast, with full-year revenues either flat or down 5pc and underlying earnings in the range of £10m to £20m.

08:50 AMFTSE risers and fallers

The FTSE 100 has slid this morning as a resurgence in Covid cases across Europe sends jitters through the markets.

The blue-chip index is down 0.6pc at 7,211 points, though it's fared better than France and Germany, where stocks fell more than 1pc on fears about new restrictions.

Gains for miners including BHP, Rio Tinto and Anglo American helped cap the FTSE's losses as metal prices rose.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 is down 1pc, with AO World crashing 25pc after it cut profit forecasts for the full year.

08:24 AMOfgem slaps PayPoint with £12.5m fine

Energy regulator Ofgem has halted its investigation into PayPoint after the company agreed to pay a £12.5m fine and address competition concerns.

PayPoint agreed to remove exclusivity clauses from its contracts with energy suppliers for pre-pay customers, who top up their meters using the company's services.

It said the move would allow suppliers and retailers to sign up to contracts with other payment service providers and to use other providers' equipment for processing payments for topping up energy supply.

The regulator said: "Ofgem believes that the commitments offered by PayPoint address its competition concerns and will ensure that competition is not distorted.

"Accepting these commitments means that the investigation closes with no decision made on whether competition rules were infringed."

08:01 AMFTSE 100 opens in the red

The FTSE 100 has opened lower this morning, taking its cue from a late reversal on Wall Street last night.

The blue-chip index is down 0.3pc at 7,236 points.

07:58 AMAtom Bank moves to four-day week

Amid all the talk of changing working habits after the pandemic, one company has actually taken action.

Atom Bank announced on Tuesday that it's moving to a four-day week, making it the largest British company to implement such a change.

The fintech firm, which has 430 employees, rolled out the new policy at the beginning of the month after a majority of employees backed the move.

It means working hours will be reduced by 3.5 hours to 34 hours per week, with no change in salary.

Mondays or Fridays are expected to be the default day off for the majority of workers, with some exceptions for staff in operational and service roles, whose days off may vary to ensure customer service levels.

Chief executive Mark Mullen said:

We believe the 20th century concept of a five day week is, in many cases, no longer fit for purpose for 21st century businesses. Its introduction originally allowed for the establishment of the weekend, with all the benefits for employees this entailed. At Atom, we feel the time is right for the next evolution in the world of work.

A four-day week will provide our employees with more opportunities to pursue their passions, spend time with their families, and build a healthier work/life balance. We firmly believe that this will prove beneficial for our employees’ wellbeing and happiness and that it will have an equally positive impact on business productivity and customer experience.

07:49 AMScottish Power warns of 'two or three' price rises

The chief executive of Scottish Power has warned customers are facing two or three price rises as the escalating energy crisis continues to drive up costs for suppliers.

Keith Anderson said an expected increase in the energy price cap in April would be compounded by costs related to a string of supplier collapses – including most recently Bulb.

He told BBC Radio 4: "We’re looking at – it’s sad to say – but you’ll be looking at a future of two or three price rises coming up because of the state of this market."

Mr Anderson took aim at the price cap, which has prevented companies from passing on higher costs to consumers and led to the collapse of about 20 firms since the start of August.

He said: "We need a lot of changes in this market to get back on a sustainable footing. We need to seriously look at the purpose of things like a price cap because of the damage that’s doing the market.

"I think one of the risks right now [is that] unless there are significant changes made we will end up back at a big five or big six."

07:34 AMOil slumps as US prepares to tap reserves

Good morning.

Oil has entered a downward slide this morning amid growing speculation that the US will tap into its strategic reserves.

Joe Biden's administration is thought to have thrashed out a plan with Asian consumers to beef up supply in the market in an effort to tame prices after Opec repeatedly rebuffed calls for higher output.

The move sets up a potential stand-off between producers and consumers, as the two sides battle for control of the global oil market.

5 things to start your day

1) Light at the end of the tunnel for Crossrail property speculators Suburban house prices are growing faster compared to the City as the new line begins its 'dress rehearsal'

2) Attack on the City puts EU competitiveness at risk Brussels is under fire for making finance companies set up subsidiaries within the single market

3) Paul Dacre returns to Daily Mail publisher as editor-in-chief Veteran editor makes surprise comeback after withdrawing from the race to become Ofcom chairman

4) John Lewis takes aim at 'throwaway' culture in retail sector Retailer to offer grants of up to £300,000 to the most innovative ideas that challenge the industry's 'outdated' approach

5) British Airways customers bemoan yet another IT mishap Airline's Executive Club website was offline for almost 10 days after planned maintenance took far longer than expected

What happened overnight

Asian stocks were mostly lower on Tuesday, tracking a retreat on Wall Street after President Joe Biden picked Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell to lead the central bank for a second term, reinforcing expectations the US will taper its stimulus soon.

MSCI's gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan fell 0.49pc, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and China's benchmark CSI300 Index opened 1.1pc and 0.2pc lower, respectively.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 outperformed with a 0.55pc gain, boosted by miners and energy stocks. Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: Compass (Full-year results); AO World, Cranswick, Pets At Home, Severn Trent, Victoria (Interims)

  • Economics: PMIs (UK, EU, US); GDP (Ger)

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