Published: 01 December 2021
Location: London, UK
The FTSE 100 fell 0.7% yesterday, at one point dropping below the totemic 7,000 mark to 6,990 but ending the day at 7059.45. Travel stocks were again especially hard hit, after the boss of Moderna told the Financial Times that Covid-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been against the Delta strain. European markets followed suit, while US markets saw even greater falls: the Dow Jones index ended the day 1.86% down. Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Controlsaid that 44 cases of the Omicron variant have so far been confirmed across 11 EU countries and that all had been either "asymptomatic or had mild symptoms".
NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said at a government press conference yesterday that community pharmacies and GP surgeries will be offered an increased £15 standard payment per delivered covid jab until January, with additional £5 payment for jabs given at weekends and to the housebound.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) shop price index showed a rise of 0.3% in November compared to the same month last year, meaning British households are facing a more expensive Christmas shop, Sky News reports. The rise follows a decrease of 0.4% recorded in October, ending a two-and-a-half-year period in which prices have been falling year-on-year. Yahoo Finance UK says food price increases were especially in focus, having accelerated to 1.1% in November up from 0.5% in October, well above the 12-and six-month average price growth rates, which were both at 0.1%. "The impact of labour shortages, rising commodity prices and transportation costs have now very clearly taken their hold on consumer prices," said Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC.
A forecast for BBC Panorama, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), has concluded that a typical UK family will spend £33.60 more per week on household costs in 2022. The analysis also projected that the inflation rate will rise to 4.6% by Christmas, mainly due to higher fuel and energy prices. Compared with December 2020, the additional weekly spend by a typical UK family of two adults and two children is predicted to add up to £1,700 more per year.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has ordered Meta (formerly Facebook) to sell Giphy in a landmark ruling against a completed big tech acquisition. The competition watchdog confirmed its preliminary view that the $315m purchase of Giphy by the owner of Facebook, executed to merge the GIF provider with Meta’s Instagram platform, could harm social media users and UK advertisers. GIFs are animated images used to accompany social media posts. Stuart McIntosh, who chaired the CMA investigation, said: "By requiring Facebook to sell Giphy, we are protecting millions of social media users and promoting competition and innovation in digital advertising." The ruling is a rare example of a non-US regulator trying to undo a big technology deal, Sharecast News says. Scrutiny of Silicon Valley's acquisitions has intensified as authorities have woken up to the power wielded by Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and other tech giants. The investigation has been acrimonious with Meta accusing the CMA of "fundamental errors of law and fact". The CMA fined Meta £50.5m in October for breaching an order that it should keep Giphy separate during the inquiry.
The RAC has called on retailers to cut prices at the pump, as its Fuel Watchbarometer shows the price of oil fell by $10 a barrel to $73.18 (£54.78) on Friday, meaning petrol is some 12p a litre too expensive while diesel is 10p too high. Unleaded is currently at an average of 147.64p a litre and diesel is 150.85p, the RAC said, but if the biggest retailers reflected the downward movement in the wholesale market, prices should be 135p and 141p respectively.
Chemist Boots is under fire after reducing the cost of morning-after pill Levonorgestrel to £8 from £15.99 in a Black Friday sale. Campaigners say they should reduce the price permanently, and that anything else is a "sexist surcharge" which needs to stop. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service(BPAS) says it shows it's possible big pharmacies can cut prices when it's in their own interests. "It is wrong that a woman in need of this essential medication next week will be forced to pay double what is being charged today," said CEO Clare Murphy. Labour women MPs have also complained to Boots. In a statement to the BBC, Boots said all men's and women's private healthcare services were reduced in the sale. “We sometimes offer short term promotions in order to raise awareness of certain services, but it is not usually possible to sustain significant discounts in the long term,” the firm said, adding that prices are in line with other high street pharmacies."
High street bank TSB is to close 70 branches next year, saying more than 90% of transactions are now carried out online. The bank will have 220 branches left at the end of June 2022, compared to 290 today. The bank will still have the UK's seventh largest high street footprint and says it will open ten more "pop-up" branches across the UK as part of the changes. Staff affected by the branch closures will be offered other roles within the organisation, the TSB said. Yahoo Finance UK has a list of branches earmarked for closure: https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/
A sixth clearing bank for the UK was launched on Tuesday, with the Bank of London claiming to be the first pre-revenue bank in history to attain a valuation of $1.1bn. In its announcement, the bank confirmed it had received its licence to operate as a clearing bank, making it only the second new clearing bank in London in more than 250 years, after the founding of Nick Ogden's ClearBankin 2016. New financing for the Bank of London was led by ForgeLight, with follow-on investment from 14W Venture Partners and Mangrove Capital Partners, and further additional investment committed over 18 months. The Bank of London said it had raised $120m to-date, with $90m in the current round, meaning it immediately ranked in the UK's top 10 most valuable fintechs.
Pub group Marston's posted wider full-year losses yesterday. In the year to 2 October, underlying pre-tax losses widened to £100m from £22m the year before, with revenue down to £423.8m from £821m. Marston's said sales were impacted significantly by covid lockdowns and other restrictions.
Online gambling firm 888 Holdings said it expected its takeover of William Hill's international business to complete in early 2022 after receiving all mandatory clearances. The deal is still subject to satisfaction of remaining conditions, including a shareholder vote and the UK's Financial Conduct Authority's approval of the re-admission of 888 shares to the premium listing segment of the Official List. 888 reiterated that it planned to raise around £500m via a capital raise - currently expected to occur before completion of the acquisition.
British engineering giant Babcock has unveiled a new £31.5 million assembly hall at Rosyth Dockyard and announced plans to create 500 jobs to support its £1.25 billion Type 31 frigate programme.
Is Elon Musk’s space agency on the brink of bankruptcy? The Tesla billionaire has warned SpaceX employees that a "crisis" relating to lack of progress in the development of the Raptor engines for its Starship engines may very well mean the company ends up that way. "We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year," he told them, adding that problems within the programme were found "to be far more severe" than initially thought.
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