Published: 16 February 2022
Location: London, UK
Inflation has risen 5.5% in the 12 months to January, up from 5.4% in December 2021, reaching a new 30-year high. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the only time inflation was higher since CPI 12-month inflation rate records began in January 1997, was when it stood at 7.1% in March 1992. Price falls in clothing and footwear, and transport led to the largest downward contributions to the monthly rate in January, while the main offsetting upward contributions came from housing and household services, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and alcohol and tobacco. The inflation rate is currently more than double the Bank of England’s 2% target and is expected to reach over 7% by Spring, when energy bills jump in April, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s tax rises come into place.
European stocks rose yesterday, closing in the green amid signs Russia has pulled back from the brink of war in Ukraine. In London, the FTSE 100 finished 0.9% higher, while the CAC closed 1.9% higher in Paris and the Frankfurt DAXadvanced 1.9%. The three major US indexes also closed more than 1% higher last night. The gains follow a sell-off on Monday after the US warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time. Soaring oil prices also retreated yesterday, falling more than 4% at one point.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is calling for a watchdog to oversee electric car charging prices and the availability of charge points. The trade body says a regulator is needed to monitor the market because the growth in electric vehicles sales is outstripping the rollout of charging points. SMMT suggested the new regulator be called "Ofcharge" - the Office of Charging.
British Airways (BA) is to award bonuses of thousands of pounds each to pilots, cabin and ground crew as chief executive Sean Doyle tries to restore morale among its 20,000 staff, Yahoo Finance UK reports. Cabin and ground crew will receive a “gesture of thanks” worth 10% of annual salary, while pilots will receive a more modest 5%c payout (of some £7,500), reflective of the fact they are already on higher salaries. Doyle’s predecessor Alex Cruz made swingeing job cuts during the pandemic, laying off 10,000 BA staff. The move was described as a “national disgrace” by politicians and left staff morale at rock bottom levels. Since then, cabin crew salaries have risen sharply as carriers compete to fill vacancies: many staff laid off during the pandemic have declined to return to the industry, having taken up jobs in other sectors. BA was also forced to pay ground crew at Heathrow double time during December to entice them back to work.
Shell is reportedly preparing to sell its stakes in two clusters of gas fields in the southern North Sea - its 50% stake in a cluster of fields in the Clipper hub, as well as the Leman Alpha complex - Reuters says, citing industry sources. It is understood the assets could fetch up to $1bn in total. Shell has previously sold several stakes in ageing fields in the North Sea, including a $3.8bn package of assets to Harbour Energy in 2017. Exxon sold its British North Sea assets last year to private equity-backed Neo.
UK start-up Britishvolt is to launch a new funding round with an initial investment of £40m from mining giant Glencore. The company, which makes batteries for electric cars, want to raise around £200m, some of which will go toward developing its planned battery factory in northern England and a research and development centre. Last month Britishvolt secured UK government backing for the £3.8bn factory, unlocking £1.7bn in private funding. Britishvolt and Glencore will also jointly develop a new UK battery recycling plant that will help reuse expensive key raw materials like cobalt and lithium, Sharecast News reports.
Iron ore pellets exporter Ferrexpo has announced Jim North will take over as permanent CEO, with immediate effect. North has held the position of acting CEO since May 2020, having previously been the FTSE 250 group's chief operating officer since 2014.
Shares in Richard Branson’s US-listed Virgin Galactic soared more than 30% yesterday on news the company is opening commercial ticket sales for its space flights. From today, seats can be reserved for a $150,000 (£110,920) deposit, for tickets the space tourism company has said previously will start at $450,000 each. $25,000 of the deposit requirement is not refundable. "We plan to have our first 1,000 customers on board at the start of commercial service later this year, providing an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet," CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. Virgin Galactic’s share price has taken a beating in recent months since it delayed the start of commercial flights to upgrade its aircraft. Despite yesterday’s surge, the stock is still down 81% from its June peak.
Disney has appointed Mike White to specifically lead the entertainment giant's strategy for the metaverse. White has been with the firm for more than 10 years and his new job title will be Disney's senior vice president for Next Generation Storytelling and Consumer Experiences. In a memo to staff, which has been seen by the BBC, chief executive Bob Chapek said the metaverse is "the next great storytelling frontier" to be explored and described it a "perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus".
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