Published: 16 March 2021
Germany, France and Spain became the latest European countries to temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford covid jab yesterday amid concerns about blood clots following vaccination. The domino effect began on Thursday when Denmark was the first to pause the entire rollout, and Norway and Iceland followed suit. Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania then suspended the jab as a precautionary measure, followed by the Netherlands and Ireland at the weekend. Meanwhile, a top US official said yesterday that emergency authorisation for the drug to be used there could come within the next month. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health said he has been "pretty reassured" by statements from European regulators that the problems are occurring by chance and not related to the vaccine.
The Office for National Statistics has updated its model basket of goods used to calculate inflation, adding men's sweatpants and hand sanitiser, to reflect “the increased use of portable hand cleansers by people on the move and more people dressing casually when working at home." Face masks were not added as "usage could decrease rapidly once the population have been vaccinated." Other goods among the 17 new items in the inflation-measuring "shopping basket" include hybrid and electric cars, smart lightbulbs, smart watches, and couscous.
20-year record low rates on cash ISAs mean that the typical UK household with £11,600 in savings will earn just £47.85 of interest this year according to research from Janus Henderson Investment Trusts. The total amount of interest that banks, building societies and NS&I will pay to cash ISA savers this year is just £1.22bn, the lowest level since 2000 (the first full year in which ISAs operated) even though balances are now 14 times greater than they were then.
BP and Volkswagen Group announced yesterday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to expand ultra-fast electric vehicle charging across Europe. Both companies will work together to deploy charging facilities at BP retail sites across the UK, Germany and elsewhere, and intend to finalise agreements in coming months. The partnership should provide EV drivers with greater confidence to access charging options: BP estimates approximately 90% of people in the UK and Germany live within a 20-minute drive of a BP or Aral site.
Chocolate retailer Thorntons has announced plans to permanently shut all its 61 stores with 603 jobs impacted. Retail director Adam Goddard said: “Unfortunately like many others, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe and despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate.”
Having previously reported its first ever loss in 36 years, and confirming 820 job losses, bakery chain Gregg’s now says it will open 100 new shops in 2021. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said Greggs had "made a better-than-expected start to 2021."
Information and analytics company Ascential has reported a £166.5m annual loss as revenue plunged and the company reported £99m extra exceptional costs. The firm made a £1.8m profit a year earlier. The FTSE 250 company said after considering how to allocate capital the board decided not to pay a dividend in 2020, leading to shares falling 4.04% at close yesterday.
WHP Global announced it has acquired interest in the Toys R' Us parent company, Tru Kids, and would consider re-opening stores in the US, ideally ahead of the next holiday season.
Petrofac has been suspended from competing for new awards until further notice by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The suspension follows an announcement by the Serious Fraud Office in January of additional pleas by a former Petrofac employee under the Bribery Act 2010 in relation to historic contract awards in the UAE in 2013 and 2014. Petrofac said it's committed to operating at the "highest standards" of ethical business practice and noted no charges have been brought against any Petrofac Group company or current employee.
Retail investor service provider Hargreaves Lansdowne reports that activist shareholders have succeeded in forcing the departure of Danone’s chairman and chief executive Emmanuel Faber after complaints about the yoghurt-maker's financial performance. The iconic food and drinks conglomerate said yesterday that Faber would be replaced immediately by director Gilles Schnepp as non-executive chairman, while Veronique Penchienati-Bosetta, chief executive officer international, would take over as CEO on an interim basis.
Reuters reports that senior government officials in India are working on a law banning both the mining and ownership of cryptocurrencies. Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of financial advisory group deVere, said regulation was likely to become an increasing concern for bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market. "Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly important part of the global financial system," he said. “With a growing dominance…cryptocurrencies must be held to the same standards as the rest of the financial system with a robust, workable international framework."
Elon Musk has announced he wishes to be known officially as ‘Technoking of Tesla.’ His financial right-hand-man Zach Kirkhorn has meanwhile been anointed ‘Master of Coin.’ The news came in an official filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
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