Published: 17 November 2021
Location: London, UK
Two more energy suppliers with a combined total of 35,500 customers have ceased trading: Neon Reef and Social Energy Supply. Neon is the larger of the two with 30,000 domestic customers. In total, 21 suppliers have now ceased operations since August, affecting more than two million customers. Suppliers are under pressure from high wholesale gas prices, and Ofgem’sprice cap, which means they cannot pass on any increase in costs to customers not protected by fixed tariffs.
Wholesale gas prices in the UK also surged a further 17% yesterday after the German energy regulator suspended approval for the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, saying the operating company needed to be compliant with German law before it would certify the €10bn (£8.4bn) project, which was completed in September and in which German businesses are heavily invested. The pipeline, which goes under the Baltic Sea, is expected to double the amount of gas that Russia sells to Europe, fuelling concerns it will increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia.
The consumer price index measure of inflation rose to 4.2% in October - the highest rate in almost 10 years - due to rising fuel and energy costs, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means inflation is now more than double the Bank of England's (BoE) 2% target. The ONS says the increases was mainly due to higher transport costs, gas and electricity bills and secondhand car prices. Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS, said: "Costs of goods produced by factories and the price of raw materials have also risen substantially and are now at their highest rates for at least 10 years." The BoE said the percentage increase was “a little bit higher” than expected.
The government has announced plans to boost the UK's annual exports to £1 trillion by the end of the decade. The Made in the UK, Sold To The Worldplan is intended to help firms seize new opportunities in global markets. Last year, the UK exported about £600bn in goods and services. But only one in 10 British firms trades overseas, the BBC says. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it was "vital" for companies to "unleash their full exporting potential". As part of the 12-point plan, government agencies such as UK Export Finance will offer new services to help UK exporters to secure business. there will also be a new UK trade show programme to give UK companies help in exhibiting their products at international events.
More than 100,000 young people have so far started new roles under the government's £2bn Kickstart jobs scheme, launched in September 2020 to target youths at risk of long-term unemployment. However, money is available for up to 250,000 roles and ministers are now appealing for employers to come forward with job offers before the scheme closes on 17 December.
"Having hit the 100,000 milestone, we are now on the last lap, and I encourage employers and young people to take advantage of this opportunity," said Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning Brits not to be taken in by scam emails, phone calls or texts ahead of the deadline for the Self Assessment tax returns of 31 January 2022. Nearly 800,000 tax-related scams were reported in the last year, according to the department. HMRC will send over 4 million legitimate emails and SMS messages out this week to taxpayers advising them of guidance and support available, prompting them to think about how they intend to pay their tax bill, and to seek support if they are unable to pay the full amount by the deadline. Criminals meanwhile will be taking the opportunity to try and steal money or personal information. In the last year alone, HMRC has received nearly 360,000 fake tax rebate referrals. In the last 12 months HMRC received 327,044 reports of phone scams in total — an increase of 21% on the previous year.
New research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research(NIESR) suggests average weekly earnings in the UK are expected to grow 5.7% in 2021, the highest level in more than two decades. NIESR said that the strength of average wage growth is explained by high bonuses, robust public sector pay growth and a cyclical recovery exaggerated by compositional effects and increased weekly average hours due to the end of furlough. The record level of job vacancies of 1.2 million reported earlier on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics also suggests a persistent mismatch between labour force skills and the post-pandemic pattern of labour demand, the NIESR said. The number of payrolled employees in September reached a record 29.3 million.
The government has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to carry out a phase two investigation into Nvidia's proposed acquisition of Cambridge-based Arm from Japan's Softbank on competition and national security grounds. US chip designer Nvidia announced in September last year that it had agreed to buy Arm. Following the CMA's completed phase one probe into the deal - which found it could lead to a "substantial lessening of competition" across data centres, Internet of Things, the automotive sector and gaming applications - Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries has requested an in-depth probe be launched. Dorries said: "Arm has a unique place in the global technology supply chain and we must make sure the implications of this transaction are fully considered...The government's commitment to our thriving tech sector is unwavering and we welcome foreign investment, but it is right that we fully consider the implications of this transaction." The CMA will carry out its investigation over the next 24 weeks.
The first day of trading on the London Stock Exchange since the Cop26agreement was signed saw investors dumping mining stocks as the future of coal looked bleak. The FTSE 100, which has some of the biggest global mining giants among it, managed to close the day up 3.95 points, or 0.05%, at 7351.86, but several big mining names saw falls, including Evraz down 16.8p at 603.2p; BHP down 37.4p at 1923.4p; Antofagasta down 28p at 1,460p and Anglo American down 41p at 2,850p. Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, told PA Media: “The FTSE 100 boasts a large compliment of miners and they’ve been falling today as investors weight up exactly what Cop26 deal making on coal will actually mean in practice.”
Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) saw its stock leap to the top of the FTSE 250 yesterday, climbing by almost 20% after it upped its profit guidance following better-than expected sales. In a brief update, TRG said it had “traded well” since September, with like-for-like sales outperforming the rest of the hospitality market when compared to 2019. TRG has around 400 sites across the UK, including Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito restaurants. It said it now expects adjusted profit of between £73m £and 79m, assuming it faces no further pandemic-related disruption. This was up from a previous guidance of £61.5m. TRG added that its airport locations were also boosted by a “minor improvement” in passenger volumes and that it now expects net debt to be less than £190m because of robust trading performance.
Lidl will become the highest-paying supermarket in March, having announced an increase in minimum pay for employees outside London to £10.10 an hour, with rates of up to £11.40 for more experienced workers. Higher rates will apply in the capital, the supermarket said. Earlier this year, Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to pay at least £10 an hour.
Marks and Spencer has made a range of womenswear available to rent ahead of the Christmas party season, as the industry moves to address sustainability concerns around fast fashion, Sky News reports. The retailer said it was leasing dozens of products, including dresses from its X Ghost collaboration, under a trial with Hirestreet. The platform is operated by the Zoa Group, which M&S has previously invested in through its Founders Factory Joint Ventureprogramme. It said the collection items, which have selling prices of between £69 and £299, would be available to rent on Hirestreet from £13 for four days.
Airbus has won a provisional debut order for seven A350 freighter jets from leasing company Air Lease Corp. No financial details were disclosed after the deal was agreed at the Dubai Airshow. A letter of intent for the freighters signed includes more than 100 passenger jets: 25 A220-300s, 55 A321neos, 20 A321XLRs and four wide-body A330neos.
Public transport operators Stagecoach and National Express said yesterday that the deadline for their potential merger had been extended to 14 December, with reciprocal due diligence now at an advanced stage as "constructive discussions" between the pair regarding the possible all-share combination continued. The duo entered talks in September regarding the all-share offer, which valued Stagecoach at £445 million.
British Salt is to build new 184,493 sq ft distribution centre at its Middlewich site in Cheshire. The multi-million-pound facility will support its existing operations and a new factory, which will be built on adjacent land.
Major Barclays Plc shareholders have raised concerns about the terms of former CEO Jes Staley’s departure, the Financial Times says. The bank has previously revealed that Staley will continue to receive his £2.4 million salary, a £120,000 pension allowance and other benefits through to October next year. The executive’s repatriation costs to the US are also eligible to be covered. But, ahead of a meeting planned by new CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan with investors, it appears several have complained to the Investor Forum, a lobbying group representing British institutional investors in UK-listed companies. Staley stepped down earlier this month amid a regulatory probe into whether he mischaracterised his relationship with financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Last week it was revealed Staley and Epstein had exchanged some 1200 emails in which it is claimed they used codewords to communicate. Staley also visited Epstein in prison. A spokesperson for Staley says “he intends to contest the initial findings” of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulatory Authority investigation. At the weekend, the Sunday Times reported Staley has lined up Lord Pannick QC to represent him in his battle with the regulators. Epstein killed himself in prison in 2019.
Amazon has reached a legal settlement in California over claims it failed to adequately inform its warehouse workers about Covid-19 cases in the workplace, the BBC reports. California's attorney general said workers had been left "terrified and powerless". The delivery giant will pay $500,000 (£370,000), but did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing the settlement, saying the law did not require it to share total numbers of cases with staff, although it had now started to do so.
Bitcoin slumped as much as 10% yesterday, heading back below the $60,000 (£44,612) per coin mark, and leading a wider sell-off in the cryptocurrency market. Recent bullish performance was soured when Twitter’s chief finance officer Ned Segal ruled out the company currently investing in the market. The news also sent ethereum down around 11% on the day, while Solana, which has seen a recent surge in popularity, soaring in value by more than 15,000% since the beginning of this year, was also down by a tenth. Overall, the value of the global crypto market tumbled by about 10% to $2.7tn by yesterday morning, according to tracker CoinGecko. The major cryptocurrencies are trading a further 2% down on average this morning.
Barbados is preparing to launch the world's first metaverse embassy, Yahoo Finance UK reports. The metaverse is an online social space where people can live virtual lives, an idea whose time has come, with Facebook recently rebranding to become Meta Platforms. The move into the virtual world has been approved by the Barbados' cabinet.
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