The US is heading towards a “crash landing” after the “near-death experience in the US banking sector”, economists predict.
America will experience a 1pc technical recession in the second half of this year, according to insurance giant Allianz.
It blamed rapidly tightening credit conditions, exacerbated by the banking crisis triggered by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
However, it said that over the course of the year overall, the US economy will grow by 1.1pc.
It comes as government growth estimates for American GDP from October to December were revised down today from 2.7pc to 2.6pc.
Allianz’s report said: “The US economy picked up pace in early 2023, but we expect this revival to be short-lived.
“We expect the economic momentum to deteriorate during the second half of the year on the back of rapidly tightening credit conditions, exacerbated by the banking crisis.”
It added: “The combined effect of tighter monetary policy, the unsolved energy crisis, and the near-death experience
in the US banking sector will shape the outlook for this year.”
Allianz also predicted the UK will go through a recession and contract by 0.3pc through the whole of this year, second only to Russia.
It said the eurozone should avoid a recession, with predicted growth of 0.3pc.
Read the latest updates below.
FTX founder pleads not guilty to new criminal charges
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to new US criminal charges, which include conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and bribe Chinese authorities.
The new 13-count indictment adds to the pressure on Mr Bankman-Fried, who faces a possible sentence of decades in prison if convicted at a trial scheduled for October, Reuters reported.
He has already pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud and conspiracy for allegedly stealing billions in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
EU chief warns against ‘sensitive’ tech falling into China’s hands
Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the European Union must be ready to protect trade and investment which China could exploit for its own security and military purposes.
The European Commission President said that it’s important to prevent China accessing “sensitive technologies” which could be used in security crackdowns or to restrict human rights.
“China’s changing policies may require us to develop new defensive tools for some critical sectors,” she said. “Where dual-use purposes cannot be excluded or human rights might be implicated, there will need to be a clear line on whether investments or exports are in our own security interests.”
Speaking today in Brussels, Mr von der Leyen said that the EU should particularly avoid “the leakage of emerging and sensitive technologies through investments in other countries”, which could lead to national security risks.
These include microelectronics, quantum computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and the biotech sector.
“We need to ensure that our companies’ capital, expertise, and knowledge are not used to enhance the military and intelligence capabilities of those who are also systemic rivals,” she told academics at an event run by the European Policy Centre think tank and the Mercator Institute for China Studies.
Her comments come ahead of a trip to China next week with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, manages international trade on behalf of the 27 member countries and defends their interests at the World Trade Organization.
That’s all from me again. Adam Mawardi will keep you up to speed for the rest of the day.
I leave you with this tweet from short seller Michael Burry, who was famously portrayed by Christian Bale in the film The Big Short.
Last month he tweeted the single word “Sell”. With the Nasdaq 100 heading for its second-best quarter in a decade, he tweeted this today:
Government refuses to commit to ruling out North Sea oil field
The Government has refused to commit to stopping the development of the Rosebank oil and gas field north of the Shetland Islands.
It is the largest such field in the North Sea area, capable of producing 69,000 barrels of oil and 44m cubic feet of gas per day, Equinor, which has operating rights, said.
When asked by Labour’s Richard Burgon whether the Conservatives would use their powers to halt development, climate change minister Graham Stuart said fossil fuels will still be required for decades to come.
He suggested it is better to produce gas on the UK Continental Shelf than import it from other countries. He said:
The honourable gentleman is saying to his constituents, let’s pay billions to foreign, sometimes hostile states, rather than producing our own.
It’s economic madness. The gas we bring in on tankers has two and a half times the emissions of our domestically produced gas.
On what planet would any rational and reasonable constituency MP want to propose that as a proposal, unless they have some strange affinity with somewhere like Russia?
Critics of the Rosebank development have said that Equinor, a Norwegian oil giant, is under no obligation to sell its oil and gas to the UK and will do so to the highest bidder.
Jimi Hendrix amp maker Marshall sold to Swedish speaker company
The British amplifier brand favoured by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen has been bought by a Swedish headphone manufacturer.
Senior business reporter Daniel Woolfson has the details:
Marshall Amplification has been acquired by the Stockholm-based Zound Industries for an undisclosed sum in a cash and shares deal.
The sale brings an end to family ownership of one of Britain’s best-known music businesses.
The Marshall business was founded in 1962 by Jim Marshall, nicknamed the so-called ‘Father of Loud’, who owned a music shop in Ealing, London.
The shop was popular with rock musicians such as Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore and The Who’s Pete Townshend.
Read how the amps were immortalised by Jimi Hendrix.
Morrisons returns to sales growth
Supermarket chain Morrisons has revealed a return to quarterly sales growth despite “another difficult period for consumers”.
The group, which was bought by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021, reported a 0.1pc rise in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT, in the 13 weeks to January 29.
It marks an improvement on the 2pc decline in sales seen in the previous three months and the 5pc drop a year ago.
Morrisons chief executive David Potts said:
We still have plenty of work to do but momentum in the business is now building with an improving trajectory over the last three quarters and like-for-like sales now in positive territory.
Although this has been another difficult period for consumers with inflation still at very high levels, we have continued with our programme of regular and meaningful price investments, enabled by a strong start to our cost-savings programme.
Wall Street opens higher
The US’s main stock market indexes opened higher on Thursday as fears of a banking crisis eased.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3pc at the open to 32,807.43.
The S&P 500 opened higher 0.5pc at 4,046.74, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.7pc to 12,010.45 at the opening bell.
Jobless claims tick up in US
US applications for jobless benefits rose last week but remain at historically low levels despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy and the job market in its fight against inflation.
Jobless claims in the US for the week ending March 25 rose by 7,000 to 198,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week fluctuations, rose by 2,000 to 198,250, remaining below the 200,000 threshold for the tenth straight week.
Applications for unemployment benefits are broadly seen as reflective of the number of layoffs in the US.
Last week, the Federal Reserve extended its year-long fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, despite concerns that higher borrowing rates could worsen the turmoil that has gripped the banking system.
US banking rules must be re-examined, says Yellen
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that banking regulation and supervisory rules need to be re-examined in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failures.
In remarks prepared for delivery to the National Business Economics Association, Ms Yellen also called for stronger regulation of the growing non-bank, or “shadow bank” sector.
She said it was “important that we re-examine whether our current supervisory and regulatory regimes are adequate for the risks that banks face today”.
She added: “We must act to address these risks if necessary.”
US growth revised down
The US economy maintained its resilience from October to December despite rising interest rates, growing at a 2.6pc annual pace, the government said Thursday in a slight downgrade from its previous estimate.
The government had previously estimated that the economy expanded at a 2.7pc annual rate last quarter.
The rise in the gross domestic product (GDP) — the economy’s total output of goods and services — for the quarter was down from the 3.2pc growth rate from July to September. Exports and consumer spending were revised lower in Thursday’s report.
For all of 2022, the US economy expanded 2.1pc, down significantly from a robust 5.9pc in 2021.
German inflation eases in March
German annual inflation slowed to 7.4pc in March, preliminary data has shown, thanks to sharply lower energy prices.
The increase in energy prices “slowed considerably” compared with March 2022, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent energy costs surging, official statistics agency Destatis said.
However, food prices continued to show “above-average growth”.
In January and February, Germany’s inflation rate had held steady at 8.7pc.
Gas prices to more than double by late summer, warns Goldman Sachs
European natural gas is heading for a fourth day of gains as analysts at Goldman Sachs predict increasing demand to more than double prices by late summer.
Prices have risen as much as 3.2pc today to more than $44 per megawatt hour but the US investment bank is forecasting prices to eventually top €100.
A mild weather and high storage levels have kept demand low in recent months but consumption will pick up in the power generation sector as the fuel is more competitive than coal, according to Goldman Sachs.
Analysts led by Samantha Dart said:
This, in our view, will ultimately support a rally in gas prices back above €100 from August.
The European energy crisis started in 2021, and it’s only from 2025 that the next wave of global liquified natural gas supply can bring it to an end.
Dutch front-month futures, the European benchmark, have pulled back from earlier gains and are up 0.9pc to more than $43 per megawatt hour.
Government rules out bringing forward increase in retirement age before election
The Government has confirmed it does not intend to bring forward the date at which the state pension age is due to rise to 68 until at least a review after the next election.
Work and Pensions Mel Stride said in the Commons that he agreed the planned rise in the state pension age from 66 to 67 should occur between 2026 and 2028, a rise which has been legislated for since 2014.
However, he said the Government would hold back on bringing forward a rise from 67 to 68, due to take place between 2041 and 2043.
He told MPs:
Given the level of uncertainty about the data on life expectancy, labour markets and the public finances, and the significance of these decisions on the lives of millions of people, I am mindful a different decision might be appropriate once these factors are clearer.
I therefore plan for a further review to be undertaken within two years of the next Parliament to consider the rise to age 68 again.
The current rules for the rise from 67 to 68 therefore remain appropriate and the Government does not intend to change the existing legislation prior to the conclusion of the next review.
The next general election is expected to take place next year and must be held no later than January 28, 2025.
US markets on course to open higher
Wall Street is expected to climb at the opening bell as investors bet that a peak in interest rates is near and bank turmoil will ease further.
In pre-market trading, S&P 500 contracts and those on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 advanced at least 0.4pc after a rally on Wednesday that pushed the latter into a bull market. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5pc.
Stocks have been drifting higher in recent days as the worst of the bank selloff recedes, even with a lack of fresh news on the direction of interest rates.
Attention in the US turns next to jobless data, GDP numbers and the core personal consumption expenditure reading for insights on the Federal Reserve’s policy moves.
Investors now expect US rates to sit around 4.3pc by the end of the year, around 70 basis points lower than the current level.
Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades, said: “Market sentiment remains relatively positive, and investor confidence remains high despite the recent turmoil brought by the financial sector, as appetite for risk gets supported by the prospect of dovish pivots from central banks, providing a good excuse to push stock indices higher just before the end of the quarter.”
PM hails ‘fantastic progress’ on post-Brexit trade deal
Rishi Sunak said “we’re not there yet” on sealing a major post-Brexit trade deal.
The Prime Minister acknowledged “fantastic progress” on joining the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP.
It comes after reports that the UK’s accession to the Indo-Pacific trade bloc could be imminent.
Speaking during a visit to the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Oxfordshire, the Prime Minister said: #
We’ve made fantastic progress in the negotiations about CPTPP but we’re not there yet.
But taking a step back, this is a great benefit of Brexit, our ability to go and sign exciting trade deals around the world.
If we are able to accede to the CPTPP trade deal, that will be an exciting moment for the UK, great opportunity for all our businesses to export to a massive and fast-growing market and again just demonstrates the Government getting on with things that are going to make life better, create jobs across the country and deliver the benefits of Brexit.
Primark boosts pay for 26,000 shop workers
Primark is to hand its roughly 26,000 retail assistants a pay rise from next week.
The high street giant is to increase the rates of pay for all its hourly paid store staff across England, Scotland and Wales to £11 an hour, with this rising to £11.51 in London.
The pay rise will represent a 12pc increase against the same time last year, it said.
The increase will come into force on April 1, when the new national living wage of £10.42 an hour – which applies for all workers aged 23 – comes into effect.
Kari Rodgers, UK retail director at Primark, said:
Our people are vital to the success of Primark and the hard work and commitment of our teams helps to create the Primark our customers know and love.
We want all of our colleagues to continue to be competitively rewarded for their work and this pay increase reflects our commitment to continue to invest in our people and our stores as we continue to grow.
Alongside the rate increases, Primark said it will also move all its retail assistants onto one rate of pay, removing lower aged-related pay bands for workers under 23.
Sam Bankman-Fried expected to plead not guilty to bribery charges
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to plead not guilty to new US criminal charges, which include conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and bribe Chinese authorities.
Mr Bankman-Fried, 31, had earlier pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud and conspiracy for allegedly stealing billions in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.
He also plans to plead not guilty to the new 13-count indictment, according to Reuters.
The new charges add to the pressure on Mr Bankman-Fried, who faces a possible sentence of decades in prison if convicted at a trial set to start on October 2.
He was arrested in December, after a flurry of customer withdrawals spurred by concerns that funds were transferred between the exchange and Alameda, prompting the collapse of now-bankrupt FTX.
On Tuesday, prosecutors moved to unseal yet another indictment, which accused Mr Bankman-Fried of trying to orchestrate a $40m payment to Chinese authorities to regain access to $1bn in cryptocurrency in Alameda accounts that had been frozen.
Drax insists carbon capture plans are still alive
Drax has said it still aims to install carbon capture technology at its power plants despite being rejected for Government subsidies.
The company said its £2bn plans for its North Yorkshire station had passed the Government’s deliverability assessment, adding ministers cannot meet their net zero goals without its project.
It said it has been “invited to enter formal bilateral discussions with the Government immediately, to move the project forward”.
Drax Group chief executive Will Gardiner said:
Delivery of BECCS at Drax Power Station will help the UK achieve its net zero targets, create thousands of jobs across the north and help ensure the UK’s long-term energy security.
We note confirmation that our project has met the Government’s deliverability criteria and Government remains committed to achieve 5Mtpa of engineered Greenhouse Gas Removals by 2030 – a goal that cannot be achieved without BECCS at Drax Power Station.
We will immediately enter into formal discussions with Government to take our project forward.
With the right engagement from Government and swift decision making, Drax stands ready to progress our £2bn investment programme and deliver this critical project for the UK by 2030.
Pound on track for best month since November
The pound has held steady and is heading for its biggest monthly gain against the dollar since November.
Sterling has risen by nearly 3pc against the greenback in March as concerns abate among investors over the banking sector – which had driven a flight to safe haven assets like the dollar.
Data this week showed UK grocery inflation hit a record high of 17.5pc in March, with overall inflation at 10.4pc and showing no signs of slowing down.
Sterling has risen by 0.3pc against the dollar and remains well above $1.23. The pound is heading for its largest monthly gain since a 5.2pc rally in November.
Against the euro, it has been a lot more measured, having barely moved month on month. It is up 0.1pc today, making a euro worth just less than 88p.
Bankers guilty of helping move money for ‘Putin’s wallet’
Four bankers who helped a close friend of Vladimir Putin move millions of francs through Swiss bank accounts have been convicted of lacking diligence in financial transactions.
The four were found guilty on Thursday of helping Sergey Roldugin, a concert cellist who has been dubbed “Putin’s wallet” by the Swiss government.
The executives – three Russians and one Swiss – helped Mr Roldugin, who is godfather to Putin’s eldest daughter Maria, deposit around 30m in Swiss francs (£26.5m) in Swiss bank accounts between 2014 and 2016.
The men, who cannot be identified under Swiss reporting restrictions, were found guilty at a hearing at Zurich District Court and were given suspended sentences of seven months each.
The prosecution had alleged the men failed to do enough to determine the identity of the real owner of the funds and it was implausible that Mr Roldugin could be the real owner.
The musician previously told the New York Times that he was certainly not a businessman and did not himself own millions, according to the indictment.
Mr Roldugin was among scores of members of Putin’s inner circle sanctioned by the West, including Switzerland, after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.
Billionaire Lego owners hit by 4.1bn loss as Danish economy slows
The investment fund of the family behind Lego suffered a share drop in returns last year as renewable and real estate investments failed to pay off.
Net income at Kirkbi Invest fell more than 60pc to 10.7bn kroner (£1.3bn) from 27bn (£3.2bn) kroner in 2021.
This was despite its profits from its 75pc stake in Lego and its ownership in brand activities rising by 2pc to 18.4bn kroner (£2.2bn) while the investment activities posted a 4.1bn-krone (£480,000) loss.
The company’s investment activities include investments in renewable energy and real estate investments in Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and the UK.
It also has “significant long-term investments” in companies such as ISS, Nilfisk, Falck, Armacell, Välinge and Landis+Gyr.
Kirkbi is chaired by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of Lego’s founder and one of Denmark’s richest people, with a fortune of $4.9bn (£4bn).
BrewDog founder to invest up to £5m in search for next unicorn business
BrewDog’s outspoken co-founder is on the hunt for business investments, promising to inject up to £5m of his own cash.
James Watt aims to find the next unicorn business – a company worth more than $1bn – after his brewery reached the landmark valuation in 2017.
He is inviting pitches from European entrepreneurs and plans to list successful businesses on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Mr Watt said:
Building and growing businesses is a real passion point for me, and I have learnt so much on my journey getting BrewDog to unicorn status.
Given the current economic climate, it’s never been more important to support companies, and I can’t wait to share my experience with some of the brightest business minds across Europe.
The submission window for pitches runs until Friday, April 14
Mr Watt will invest £1m in three firms, with a further £4m to be unlocked as the winning companies reach certain milestones.
Hong Kong stocks end day higher
Hong Kong stocks finished today’s session with more gains, tracking advances on Wall Street amid easing bank sector fears, with tech firms among the best performers.
The Hang Seng Index climbed 0.6pc, or 116.73 points, to close at 20,309.13.
The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7pc, or 21.19 points, to 3,261.25, and the Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second exchange added 0.2pc, or 4.92 points, to 2,108.29.
FTSE 100 rally continues as commodities rise
The FTSE 100 has extended gains amid renewed signs of confidence in markets.
The export-orientated index has risen 0.4pc so far today and has climbed 2.2pc over the last four trading days.
Today’s gains have been led by precious and base metals miners, which have added 1pc and 1.1pc, respectively.
Shares of SSE have advanced 2.9pc after the power company lifted its annual profit expectations, helped by continued strong performance of its flexible generation plant.
Meanwhile oilfield services provider Petrofac surged nearly 70pc to clock its biggest intraday jump on a deal worth 13 billion euros (£11.4bn).
Petrofac said it has been awarded a massive framework agreement with Hitachi Energy by Dutch-German electricity grid operator TenneT to supply offshore platforms and onshore converter stations.
Elsewhere the midcap FTSE 250 has risen by 1pc, helped by data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that said February car production rose 13.1pc, its first monthly increase in three.
The FTSE 350 Automobiles and Parts sector added 2.4pc and is one among top-performing sectors this quarter.
Labour has no plans to raise capital gains tax, says Reeves
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she does not plan to increase capital gains tax.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said:
There are people who have built up their own businesses who maybe at retirement want to sell that business.
They may not have had huge income through their life if they’ve reinvested in their business, but this is their retirement pot of money.
And we also have said we want Britain to be the best place to start and grow a business.
No one will be ‘fined a penny’ for refusing to install heat pumps, says Shapps
Households do not face a penalty for failing to install a heat pump, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said.
He told LBC Radio:
There’s no end date at all and you’re not going to be fined a penny.
We’re not forcing anyone to remove their gas boilers.
They (heat pumps) can be expensive, but recently we’ve seen both British Gas and Octopus come forward and offer heat pumps that after that £5,000 (grant) would mean you are paying £3,000 or even £2,500, so it makes it competitive with fitting a regular gas boiler.
So we’re starting to see this come into equilibrium, which is what we need to see in order to get to a sort of mass fitting of these things.
Oil giants chosen for UK carbon capture projects
The Government has selected projects from developers including oil giants BP and Equinor to enter into negotiations for Britain’s first large-scale efforts to capture and store carbon emissions.
In total, eight projects are set to receive government support to trap carbon from industrial clusters in the north of England – although this does not include a £2bn biomass project put forward by Drax.
The technology could be a key tool to help the UK reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Government plans to spend £20bn subsidising the technology in the coming years.
The projects are from what has been dubbed the East Coast Cluster in the northeast of England and Hynet in the northwest.
Developing multiple carbon capture projects nearby can drive down costs by sharing infrastructure to transport and store CO2 emissions.
The winners include two projects under development from BP.
One is an 860-megawatt power plant known as Net Zero Teesside Power that it’s developing with Equinor.
Another is H2Teesside, which aims to produce 1-gigawatt of hydrogen by 2030. Both projects in the northeast will rely on offshore transportation and a storage network that would be operated by BP.
Car makers boosted as microchip shortage eases
Car production has increased following an easing of a two-year long shortage of semiconductors, figures show.
The number of cars built in UK factories reached 69,707 last month, over 8,000 more than the same month a year ago, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The report noted an improvement in supply chain shortages – notably of semiconductors – which have “bedevilled” the global industry since early 2021.
Production for the domestic market increased by 20pc and by 11pc for overseas, with most exports into the UK’s largest trading partner, the EU.
Shipments to the EU rose by 6.5pc, helping to offset declines to the US and China – both down by around a fifth – providing further evidence of the need for continued free trade across the Channel, said the SMMT.
The transition to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles continued, with combined production surging by 72pc from 15,905 to 27,392, accounting for two in five cars produced in the month.
Markets rise at the open
It has been another good start to the day on the markets following a rally on Wall Street as worries over banks following the collapses of several lenders in recent weeks receded.
The FTSE 100 climbed 0.2pc as markets opened to 7,575.69 while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 rose by 0.5pc to 18,730.02.
Blow to biomass as Drax rejected for Government’s carbon-capture programme
The Government’s carbon-capture program rejected a project put forward by Drax in a heavy blow to the introduction of the nascent technology at its power plant in northern England.
Drax failed to get so-called Track-1 status for its biomass project with carbon capture and storage, the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero said.
The company had said it was prepared to invest £2bn to fit the technology to some of the units at its Selby plant in North Yorkshire.
The Government’s decision is a major setback for biomass as Britain seeks more stable electricity generation.
It also puts Drax at a crossroads with the prospect of generous US subsidies drawing its focus and cash across the Atlantic.
Government’s ‘green day’ is ‘reheated policy,’ says Miliband
Shadow climate and net zero secretary Ed Miliband is, as you would expect, not impressed by the Government’s initiatives announced as part of its “green day”.
What was billed with huge hype as the government’s “green day” turns out to be a weak and feeble groundhog day of re-announcements, reheated policy, and no new investment.
These announcements are most notable for their glaring omissions: no removal of the onshore wind ban which is costing families hundreds of pounds on bills, no new investment for energy efficiency which could cut bills, no response to the Inflation Reduction Act which could help Britain win the global race for clean energy jobs.
This is a government out of ideas and out of touch. Only Labour has a plan to make Britain a clean energy superpower, with a plan for clean power by 2030 and GB Energy, our publicly-owned energy company, to cut energy bills, strengthen energy security, and create good jobs.
Shapps does not have heat pump
Grant Shapps admitted he does not yet have a heat pump, as the Government’s “powering up Britain” strategy extends a scheme offering households £5,000 to replace their gas boilers.
The Energy Security Secretary said energy company workers will come to survey his house this month “to see about whether heat pumps can work”.
“Sort of living the dream as it were, or I’m hoping to. We’ll see what happens when they come around to my house,” he told GB News.
Mother’s Day delivers for Moonpig
Moonpig recorded its largest ever week of sales in the UK ahead of Mother’s Day.
The company said in a trading update that it is on track for annual revenues of £320m, with underlying profits also expected to be in line with forecasts.
Revenues are expected to grow next year, although this is expected to mainly happen in the second half as the business remains “mindful of the macroeconomic environment”.
Chief executive Nickyl Raithatha said:
Today’s update is testament to the resilience of our business model, as demonstrated by a record UK Mother’s Day.
Moonpig Group’s leading market positions, strong customer retention, high profitability and robust cash generation equip us to navigate all stages of the economic cycle.
We are excited to return to revenue growth in the year ahead, underpinned by continued investments in our technology, marketing and operational capabilities.
As the clear online leader in greetings cards, Moonpig Group is well positioned to benefit from the long-term structural market shift to online.
SSE boosts profit outlook
SSE has boosted its profits forecast for the year as it hailed its “balanced” business model amid surging energy prices.
The company, which sold its utility business to Ovo in 2020, said it expects to spend £2.5bn on its push for net zero.
It predicts it will achieve earnings per share of more than 160 pence, up from the previous guidance of more than 150 pence.
Finance director Gregor Alexander said:
As we progress our ambitious Net Zero Acceleration Programme, we are investing more than we make in profits into the infrastructure society needs for a more secure, affordable and clean energy system.
Our balanced business model has performed well in a volatile year, helping to ensure security of supply.
At the same time, we are progressing multiple projects and adding to our pipeline as we deliver on our net zero focused electricity infrastructure strategy.
This strong performance leaves us well positioned to continue our significant investment programme and we will update the market with more detail in May.
UK ‘not there yet’ on carbon capture technology, says Shapps
Households are to be penalised if they do not switch away from gas under net zero plans to be unveiled today.
Ministers are planning to overhaul subsidy rules so gas is relatively less attractive compared to electricity in an attempt to drive the uptake of green power and hasten the end of fossil fuels. More on that here.
Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that “we’re not there yet” on carbon capture technology, but said it could eventually “bring in a lot of money”. He told GB News:
There’s something called carbon capture utilisation and storage, it’s a method of capturing carbon and then storing it largely under the sea, actually in the old oil and gas locations.
And we probably have the ability to store billions if not trillions of pounds worth of other people’s carbon in those locations.
When challenged over his use of the word “probably”, the Cabinet minister said:
We know that you can actually do this. It’s technically possible to do. Yes, there are lots of practical implications of doing it. But it could be a market worth trillions of pounds.
To put this into perspective, we’ve got space to store about 78 billion tonnes of carbon and that would be enough for the whole of Europe’s carbon for 250 years. That could bring in a lot of money to the UK…
We’re not there yet, but if we get there and Britain has a leading role in this, then we can bring energy security to every single one of your viewers.
Japan’s shares end day lower
Tokyo shares ended the session lower as investors locked in profits after recent gains.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4pc, or 100.85 points, to 27,782.93, while the broader Topix index slid 0.6pc, or 12.16 points, to 1,983.32.
H&M reveals surprise profit after expected loss
H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, has revealed a surprise operating profit for the December-February period.
Economists had expected the company to announce losses of around 1bn Swedish krona (£80m).
It instead announced an operating profit of 725m krona (£56m) despite weak demand as consumers curtailed spending amid soaring inflation.
While H&M showed signs of bringing its costs under control, it still struggled to compete with major rival Inditex, owner of Zara and other brands, as well as rapidly expanding fast fashion online retailers such as SHEIN and Temu.
Number of companies listing in London is falling, the City warns
The City of London is at risk of losing its position as a leading financial centre as New York draws level in the latest global finance rankings.
The report, drawn up by the City of London Corporation, found that other financial centres are threatening to usurp the Square Mile after growing at a faster pace over the last year, with the number of companies leaving the London stock market cited as a key concern.
The study evaluated the performance of the world’s leading financial centres across 95 metrics, including innovation, business infrastructure, talent and skills and regulation.
London received an overall competitiveness score of 60, up from 59 in 2022, while New York increased its score by 2 points to equal London with 60 points
It comes as concerns grow that the City is losing its allure as a financial centre after building material giant CRH announced plans to leave the London stock market for New York, while British technology darling Arm also said it was shunning London for its bumper listing.
The report highlighted that the number of international companies listed in London is falling and fewer international companies are choosing to list in London, despite changes to listing rules.
Chris Hayward, policy chief at the City of London Corporation, said: “The UK remains one of the most open and global financial centres with better access to international markets than the US, France, or Japan. But our competitive advantage is at risk. A long-term plan to stimulate growth in the financial and professional services sector is needed.”
The study ranked Singapore as the world’s third most competitive financial centre with a score of 51. Frankfurt scored 46, Paris scored 43 and Tokyo scored 35.
London is no longer the clear leader among global financial centres after New York rose from second place to level peg with the capital as more companies list in the United States.
The City of London Corporation, which administers London’s financial district, said in its annual survey that benchmarks on the performance of global financial centres gave London an overall competitiveness score of 60, up from 59 in 2022, but New York increased its score to 60.
Singapore was third with 51, Frankfurt 46, Paris 43, and Tokyo 35.
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What happened overnight
Asian shares were mixed Thursday following a rally on Wall Street as worries over banks following the collapses of several lenders in recent weeks eased further.
Forceful actions by regulators have helped to calm markets as investors have turned their focus to how central banks might adjust their interest rate policies to reflect persisting worries over how higher rates might affect lenders.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.8pc to 27,662.54. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9pc to 7,110.20.
South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2pc to 2,449.45. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7pc to 20,048.99, while the Shanghai Composite declined 0.2pc to 3,232.39.
Wall Street stocks rallied on Wednesday as investor risk appetites recover amid easing banking crisis concerns.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1pc to close at 32,717.60, while the broad-based S&P 500 finished 1.4pc higher at 4,027.81. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite increased 1.8pc to 11,926.24.
US government bonds were little changed as investors await new data from the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined two basis points to 3.55pc, while the policy sensitive two-year yield nudged up two basis points to 4.1pc.