Friday Update

DB Live: Euro virus cases leap; debt rises; Omega boost

4.45pm: London close

London’s top-flight index closed the week in negative territory as investors mulled over a raft of economic data, with sterling under the cosh after the EU blamed the UK for deadlocked Brexit talks.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said a post-Brexit trade deal “seems unlikely” and that he was “concerned” after the latest round of negotiations.

UK Brexit negotiator David Frost said there had been “little progress”.

A survey from the CBI showed the downturn in the manufacturing sector eased in the three months to August but orders books remain “severely depressed”.

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics showed retail sales rose above pre-pandemic levels in July (see below).

The FTSE 100 ended the session down 11.45 points (0.19%) at 6,001.89, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.46% at 17,577.68.

1pm: Improving retail data

Retail sales for the UK rose above pre-pandemic levels in July as a rebound in demand continued, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes rose by 3.6% between June and July.

It said sales are now 3% higher than February before the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic and the UK was placed in lockdown.

The figures show an improvement on data on Wednesday from the Scottish Retail Consortium and KPMG which saw total sales fall by 8.3% compared with July 2019, or by 7.7% on a like-for-like basis.

However, Scottish stores opened later than others in the UK.

11.10am: Leonard calls for national care service

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called for the establishment of a National Care Service, with national standards for service users and staff. 

Full story here

10.20am: CrossRail delayed

The opening of London’s Crossrail underground line has been delayed until 2022 and an extra £1.1bn will be needed to complete the project, Crossrail said.

10am: Rise in Covid cases across Europe

France has seen a further sharp rise is coronavirus cases, while Italy has seen its highest daily tally since May.

There have also been worrying spikes in Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Croatia – much of it blamed on holidaying Europeans and youngsters enjoying parties in the summer heatwave.

Italy registered 845 new cases on Thursday, its highest figure for three months, while France reported 4,771, a thousand up on Wednesday’s 3,776.

8.15am: London open

The FTSE was treading water at the open, down 9 points at 6,004.44 as traders continued to digest weak economic data.

7am: Ovo picks up SSE bill

Ovo Energy has been landed with a £1.2 million for bill for SSE’s failure to install enough smart meters in 2019.

Full story here

Public debt

City of London

Britain’s public debt mountain has exceeded £2 trillion for the first time after unprecedented government support for the economy added £228 billion.

Debt at the end of July was 100.5% of GDP for the first time since March 1961, the Office for National Statistics said.

The ONS also reports that public borrowing in July alone was £26.7bn. That’s the fourth highest borrowing in any month on record.

Borrowing in the first four months of the financial year so far – from April to July – was around £150.5bn, “the highest borrowing in any April to July period” since records began in 1993.

Omega secures WHO backing

Medical diagnostics firm Omega has received World Health Organisation prequalification for its Visitect disease test for identifying patients with advanced HIV.

Omega said this is a key commercial milestone for the company and follows the supply agreement secured with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in April to accelerate access of the test to low-income countries, lower-middle income countries and upper-middle income countries as classified by the World Bank. 

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Gove hints at Scots living across UK getting indyref vote

Glasgow experts join UK productivity initiative

Beattie ready to rescue PR firms in distress

Leonard plans Green New Deal to create jobs

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