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Wednesday Update

DB Live: Apple; Aberdeen support; GDP, inflation, retail data

10pm: Apple’s new milestone

Apple

Just two years after Apple became the first publicly listed US company with a $1 trillion stock market value, the iPhone maker has now topped $2trn.

The iPhone maker has eclipsed Saudi Aramco as the world’s most valuable listed company. Apple’s stock is up about 57% so far in 2020.

Apple now accounts for close to 7% of the S&P 500’s total market value. Its market capitalisation is about equal to the combined values of the S&P 500’s 200 smallest companies.

4.45pm: London closes higher

London’s FTSE 100 gained ground at the close of trading as Wall Street continued to rise.

The blue-chip benchmark dipped early but closed up 35.36 points (0.58%) at 6,111.98.

European markets shrugged off their weaker start to the day, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq remain close to yesterday’s fresh record highs.

1.30pm: Aberdeen lockdown support

Small firms in Aberdeen will benefit from a £1m government fund as the local lockdown is extended for a further seven days.

David Groundwater, the Federation of Small Businesses’s development manager for north east Scotland, said the resilience and determination of the Aberdeen hospitality sector is being tested to the limit, with weeks of no customers, no sales and no profits.

“Indicative re-opening dates, at least for part of the hospitality sector, are helpful in letting businesses plan, but getting back to business can’t come quickly enough for Aberdeen’s ailing economy.”

1pm: Wind farm contract

SSE Renewables has chosen a Danish firm to supply 103 wind turbines for its Viking project on the Shetland Islands – the biggest onshore wind farm in the UK.

Full story here

9.45am: Scottish GDP lifts

Scotland’s GDP increased by 5.7% in June, according to the Chief Statistician. This follows an increase of 2.3% in May, and falls of 19.2% in April and 5.8% in March.

Although output has increased for the last two months, it remains 17.6% below the level in February, prior to the direct impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

8.45am: London snubs US surge

The FTSE 100 defied predictions that it would take Wall Street’s lead. The market was surprised by a stronger than expected rise in UK consumer price inflation.

The blue-chip index fell 17 points to 6,060.03 at the open before edging into positive territory at 6,077.41, up by less than a point.

The cost of living jumped by 1.1% in July, driven by a rise in culture and recreation costs. A poll ahead of the data release suggested the figure would be 0.7%.

8.30am: Rail prices rise

Glasgow station and ScotRail

Rail commuters face an increase in season ticket prices of 1.6%. An Edinburgh-Glasgow annual season ticket will rise £67 to £4,267.

Latest here

7.50am: UK avoids deflation

Richard Berry, founder of goodmoneyguide.com, says consumer demand is spluttering back into life and starting to drive up prices.

“With many high street names slashing both jobs and prices in a desperate attempt to cut costs and lure back customers, the news that the UK has dodged the deflationary bullet will be welcome. (see inflation report below)

“But no-one should confuse July’s surge in inflation with a return to rude economic health. The prospects of British consumers spending their way out of recession still look slim.

“Much of the surprise jump in inflationary momentum is down to rising oil prices and the Bank of England’s vast programme of monetary stimulus, rather than a rekindling of consumer confidence.”

7am: Inflation rises

The UK’s inflation rate rose to 1.1% in July as lockdown measures in the UK eased.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from June’s value of 0.6% the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said: “Inflation has risen, in part, due to the largest monthly pump price increase in nearly a decade, as international oil prices rose from their lows earlier this year.

“The largest upward movement came from clothing where prices fell on the month but by less than a year ago, partly due to different sales patterns throughout the year so far.

“In addition, prices for private dental treatment, physiotherapy and haircuts have increased with the need for PPE contributing to costs for these businesses.

“Our new experimental numbers, taking into account changing spending patterns throughout the pandemic, show prices rising only a little higher than our headline inflation figures.”

6am: Retailers still struggling

Prince St retail shopping

Scotland’s retailers saw total sales fall by 8.3% compared with July 2019, or by 7.7% on a like-for-like basis, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium.

Paul Martin, Partner, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “With store sales down 8.3% year-on-year, we’re witnessing a recovery of sorts, but at a worryingly low pace.

“Once again, food sales have helped to mitigate some of the losses in the industry, with fashion retailers continuing to struggle as consumers focus on essential purchases.

“September is typically one of the strongest months of the year for Scottish High Streets, so there will be a great deal of nervousness as we approach this period with furlough schemes tailing off and local lockdowns and travel restrictions continuing to put people off returning to a degree of normality.

“The industry is facing an uphill battle for survival. The next few months could be a crucial make-or-break period for many.” 

Ewan MacDonald Russell, Head of Policy & External Affairs at the SRC, said: “Whilst these figures are a significant improvement on the dire numbers from full lockdown, they are still lower than expected for this time of year.’

Pizza Express closures

Pizza Express is to close 73 of its UK restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.

The chain, which has 454 UK outlets, said it had cut a deal to reduce rent costs.

It said although most of its restaurants have been profitable over the past three years, earnings had been declining.

It has hired Lazard to advise on a sale process for the business.

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

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Digital Quarter to embrace shifts in work-life patterns

US markets shrug off gloom to hit new high



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