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The UK economy grew by 1.3% between July and September

   News / 11 Nov 2021

Published: 11 November 2021
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

The UK economy grew by 1.3% between July and September, slowing to 0.6% in September itself, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS said the latest figures means the UK's economy is still 2.1% smaller than it was in the final three months of 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the latest figures showed his economic policies were working. "The economy continues to recover from Covid and thanks to schemes like furlough, the unemployment rate has fallen for eight months in a row, and we're forecast to have the fastest growth in the G7 this year," he said.
House prices in the UK continued to rise in October due to lack of new properties listed for sale. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK residential market survey, 70% of respondents saw a rise in property prices, with the trend expected to continue over the next three months, and year ahead, Yahoo Finance UK reports. Despite a 10% rise in the number of new enquiries, estate agents only have an average of 37 properties on their books, the figures showed. Meanwhile, 20% of contributors reported a fall in the number of new properties being listed for sale. Meanwhile, property portal Rightmove confirms it is still a seller’s market, and that Grays in Essex is the top spot for vendors, with eight in 10 properties listed for sale via its online portal there having had offers accepted. Chelsea in London is calculated to be the best market for buyers at present.
London has the most energy efficient buildings in England, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) based on evaluation of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), introduced in 2007, which rate buildings based on features such as building materials used, heating systems and insulation. Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands had the lowest average EPC scores, albeit there were only 4 percentage points below London.
The typical pay for graduates rose to £30,500 in 2021, up by £833, while school leavers saw a jump of £1,039, according to the Institute of Student of Employers (ISE). Boss Stephen Isherwood said that "employers are looking for ways to compete for talent in a tough market". The number of applicants per job also reached a record high, ithe ISE found.
Transport Day at COP26: Six top automakers will commit to phasing out the production of fossil-fuel vehicles globally, the government said. Ford, General Motors, Volvo, Daimler Mercedes-Benz, China's BYD Co and Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors Ltd, will sign a declaration which states: “We will work towards reaching 100% zero emission new car and van sales in leading markets by 2035 or earlier, supported by a business strategy that is in line with achieving this ambition, as we help build customer demand.” Some 20 governments will also sign the pledge, which states: "We recognise that alongside the shift to zero emission vehicles, a sustainable future for road transport will require wider system transformation, including support for active travel, public and shared transport, as well as addressing the full value chain impacts from vehicle production, use and disposal."
French vaccine maker Valneva is seeking an apology from Health Secretary Sajid Javid, saying it will not rule out seeking "legal recourse" for loss of earnings and damages after a £1.2billion government order for 100 million doses of Valneva's covid-19 vaccine was cancelled. At the time, Javid told the House of Commons that it would not have gained UK regulatory approval, and Valneva's share price plummeted 35%. Chief financial officer David Lawrencetold BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime that Mr Javid's comments had a devastating impact on the business. "We had to do a lot of work to rebuild and restore confidence in the vaccine" he said, adding that Javid's comments were "very clearly wrong" and "we'd love to hear an apology from him." Yesterday, the European Commission agreed a contract to supply up to 60 million doses of the Valneva jab, subject to approval by the European Medicines Agency.
Google received the backing of The Supreme Court yesterday, which blocked a landmark case which could have seen the company liable for up to £3bn in damages. Consumer activist Richard Lloyd, a former director of the Which?sued the tech giant for secretly collecting internet browsing history data - which it subsequently used for commercial purposes - from iPhone users between 2011 and 2012, bringing the claim as a class action on behalf of over 4 million people affected by the alleged data breach. Lloyd sought to extend the UK's class action regime to include compensation claims for the alleged misuse of data, even if no obvious financial loss or distress could be shown and was asking for compensation of £750 for everyone affected. However, the UK's top judges unanimously granted Google an appeal against the nation's first data privacy case of its kind, in a move that impacts a series of similar claims against Facebook and TikTok. "We are bitterly disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to do enough to protect the public from Google and other Big Tech firms who break the law," Lloyd said. However, the Confederation of British Industry welcomed the ruling, stating allowing such a case would have potentially would have curtailed investment and impacted British businesses of all types.
The tech giant had less luck in Brussels yesterday though, losing its appeal against a €2.4bn (£2.05bn) fine levied by the European Commission in 2017. The Commission said Google had given preferential treatment to its own price-comparison shopping service over rival services. Google is likely to this latest decision in the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court.
Czech tycoon Daniel Kretinsky has bought a 27% stake in West Ham football club for a fee of between £180-£200m. The billionaire energy mogul, who also owns Sparta Prague, acquired the shares through his investment vehicle 1890s Holdings. The move makes him the club’s second largest shareholder and he will now join the board with his colleague Pavel Horsky, alongside West Ham co-chairs David Sullivan and David Gold, and vice-chair and The Apprentice judge Karren Brady. The purchase has reduced Sullivan’s total shareholding from 51.5% to 38.8%, Gold’s by 10% to 25.1% and Tripp Smith’s by 2% to 8%, with the number of shares in the hands of other investors falling from 3.4% to 1.1%, Yahoo Finance UK reports. West Ham, who has rejected two bids in the past year from a private equity firm PAI Capital, said the deal would help it to pay down its long-term debt and direct funds into "other key areas of focus". The deal now values the club at up to £700m.
Demand for jeans, jogging bottoms and workwear have helped Marks & Spencer to a long-awaited turnaround of its clothing business that helped the group forecast profits of £500m for the full year, the Guardian reports. Shares in the high street retailer rose more than 20% at one point yesterday on the back of the results, which showed the group swinging to a pre-tax profit of £187m for the six months to October, compared with a loss of almost £88m during the same period in 2020. The figure also blew past pre-pandemic profits of £159m. CEO Steve Rowe said it was “clear that underlying performance is improving”. The Telegraph says the increase in the M&S share price gave the firm a stock market valuation of more than £4.4bn, which potentially heralds its return to the FTSE 100. M&S, a founder member of the blue-chip index in 1984, was relegated for the first time in September 2019.
Wetherspoons says it is suffering because older people are still too afraid of Covid-19 to go to the pub. Boss Tim Martin said yesterday that food sales have slumped 8% because more people working from home and eschewing the allure of its famous breakfasts (down by 22%) and coffees (down by 30%). However, he also said the pub chain seems to be attracting a younger crowd, judging by the drinks being ordered: sales of cocktails are up 45%, vodka rose by 17% and rum was up 26%, all of which he said are popular with younger people. The worst affected region for the Spoons was London, with trade down 17.4%, offsetting relatively buoyant trade in cities such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Oxford, where sales were up 11.3%. Ongoing travel restrictions also meant that trade was significantly lower in airports, down 38.8%, and railway stations, down 22.4%, Sales also fell in Scotland (-12.2%) and Northern Ireland (-11.0%) where restrictions still apply.  “Improvement in trade will therefore depend, to some extent, on the outlook for the Covid-19 virus,” Martin said. The gloomy update meant Wetherspoons’ shares ended the day 7.24% down.
Homeware retailer Dunelm is under fire from a shareholder advisory organisation for the "excessive" pay package enjoyed by its chief executive. The Evening Standard said that Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) was urging its clients to vote against Dunelm's remuneration package at the next AGM. £3.4m in bonuses have been awarded to CEO Nick Wilkinson, leading to a quadrupling of his pay to more than £4m this year. "The change in the CEO total pay over the last five years are [sic] not considered in line with the company's financial performance over the same period," and "the ratio of the CEO's pay compared to average employee pay is considered unacceptable, standing at 66:1," the Standard quoted PIRC as saying.
Shoe retailer Clarks is in a dispute with a trade union over the alleged illegal use of agency workers to cover a strike at its warehouse in Somerset, the BBCreports. The Community union has complained to the government about one case and says it is investigating more. However, although Clarks admits the use of agency workers, it says it is acting “according to the law” and that they are not doing the jobs of striking workers. Using agency workers to break a strike is against the law. Workers at the Clarks warehouse in Street, Somerset have been on strike for over a month in a dispute over pay and conditions.
A fruit-picking robotics business which has seen growing demand because of labour shortages in the agricultural sector is to unveil a multimillion-pound fundraising involving prominent venture capital investors, Sky Newsunderstands. Dogtooth Technologies, which was founded in 2015 by Edward Herbert, Dr Duncan Robertson and Matthew Cook, has secured £7m in a Series A funding round led by 24Haymarket, a private investment network, the broadcaster says. Octopus Ventures, LocalGlobe and a fund overseen by UKRI, the government research body, are also participating in the round. The new funding will enable Dogtooth, which is based in Cambridgeshire, to accelerate the production and deployment of its "intelligent fruit-picking robots", which perform the same functions as human fruit-pickers.
US stock markets took a tumble yesterday as inflation jumped to an annual rate of 6.2% last month, higher than the 5.8% forecasted by economists. US inflation stood at the highest annual rate since November 1990. Excluding food and energy inflation was 4.6%.
Uber is being sued by the US Justice Department (DoJ) over allegations the ride-hailing app’s "wait time" fees are discriminating against disabled passengers who need more than two minutes to get into a car. Uber denies the claim and called the lawsuit "surprising and disappointing." Uber had a policy of refunding wait time fees for disabled riders whenever they alerted the firm that they had been charged, a spokesman said. Uber began charging passengers for driver waiting times in 2016.
Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has made good on his promise to sell around $5bn (£3.7bn) worth of shares in the electric carmaker, days after he asked his 63 million Twitter followers whether he should sell 10% of his stake. The company's shares fell by around 16% in the two days after the poll came out in favour of him selling shares, before regaining some ground yesterday.
Beleaguered Chinese property group Evergrande is reportedly teetering on the brink of default - again. Sources told Reuters that some of the company's bondholders had not received coupon payments by the end of 30-day grace periods at close of Asia business yesterday. Evergrande has more than $300bn in debts, $19bn of which are international market bonds.

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