Monday Update

DB Live: Sharma says UK collaboration ‘works well’


4.30pm: FTSE 100 defies gloom

The FTSE 100 defied the downbeat mood over Covid and the economy to bounce back strongly, closing 77.7 points higher (1.39%) at 5,654.97.

12.20pm: CBI conference – Starmer

Responding to a question on whether he rejects Jeremy Corbyn’s call for widespread nationalisation, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says his party will be pro-business, but he says there are “challenges to the way businesses are owned”.

11.45am: Bank tipped to hold rates

The Bank of England is unlikely to announce negative interest rates this week but is expected to boost asset purchases, according to a senior economist.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said: “The Bank of England looks poised to provide a spark for the UK economy on 5 November by enacting a further £100 billion of asset purchases, which would take the total up to £845 billion.

“However, the EY ITEM Club expects the Bank will hold off from the more significant action of taking interest rates into negative territory and will keep them at 0.10%. The EY ITEM Club expects both decisions to be the result of unanimous 9-0 Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) votes.”

10.30am: CBI conference – Sharma positive on renewables

Business Secretary Alok Sharma says “60% of content for offshore wind farms should be coming from the UK”.

Energy White Paper due “in the Autumn”, he says.

He adds: “We want to make sure our economic success is spread evenly across the country”.

Asked about collaboration with the devolved administrations, he says: “We work well with them, quite frankly. We want to have a collaborative approach.”

9.45am: CBI conference – Brexit a ‘moral necessity’

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, says in her final message to the CBI annual conference, pictured, that her message on Brexit had always been that it was an economic necessity. “Now it is a moral necessity,” she said.

9.35am: CBI conference – Fairbairn calls for national unity

Outgoing CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn calls for “national unity” to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing the CBI conference, she said there is a need for greater collaboration. “You can feel division in their air, crackling all around us. It is not what the public wants.”

9.30am: CBI conference – Fairbairn regrets PM’s absence

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said it was a “shame” that Boris Johnson had pulled out of speaking at today’s annual conference (see below).

“But just as we had to tear up our plans he has had to tear up his,” she said. “I am sure we will hear from him later.”

8.45am: Builders’ merchant bought

MKM Building Supplies, the UK’s largest independent builder’s merchant, has acquired south west Scotland business DTC Merchants.

The transaction includes three branches in Dumfries and Irvine, Ayrshire.

DTC was established by Donald Young, Roger Thomson and Colin Cameron in 2007. Mr Young, who has run and driven the growth of the company, will remain for a period of time to assist with the ownership transition.

8am: London higher

Investors set aside worries over Covid rises and tighter restrictions and were encouraged by strong results from Ocado and Just Eat.

Ocado rallied as the online supermarket increased its guidance for annual earnings to more than £60m from more than £40m as consumers switch to online shopping.

Just Eat Takeaway benefited from expectations that people will be ordering in once the second lockdown in England takes effect this week.

The FTSE 100 was up 19 points at 5,596.28.

Boris Johnson speech in Downing Street

7am: Boris pulls out of CBI conference

Boris Johnson has pulled out of speaking at the CBI annual conference to prepare his address to MPs on the new lockdown for England.

CBI president Lord Bilimoria said it is only the second time a Prime Minister has not spoken at the event.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is taking Mr Johnson’s place on the speaker platform.

Nucleus acquisition

Nucleus, the Edinburgh-based wrap platform, has acquired the UK business and assets of Genpact Wealth Management UK, trading as OpenWealth, in a c£1.5m cash deal funded from the Company’s existing cash resources.

David Ferguson, founder and chief executive of Nucleus, commented: “Nucleus has continued to grow in recent years, and we expect the greater control afforded by the acquisition to further strengthen our positioning as we pursue our goal of being the most tech-enabled wrap platform in the UK.”

Full story here


Ryanair losses mount

Ryanair expects to fly between 50% and 80% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels next summer, says chief executive Michael O’Leary.

The airline lost €197 million in the six months ended 30 September (2019: €1.15 billion profit) as revenues slumped 78% to €1.18bn from €5.39bn during the same period in 2019.

It grounded 99% of its fleet from mid-March to the end of June as Europe’s government banned travel to contain the virus.

During the second quarter the airline operated at around 60% of the previous year’s capacity.

Farage renames Brexit party

Nigel Farage intends to relaunch his political career by rebranding the Brexit Party as an anti-lockdown party.

The party has formally applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK and will campaign against coronavirus measures.

Mr Farage and Richard Tice, the Brexit Party chairman, said it will tackle several ‘powerful vested interests’.

Brown calls for Bifab inquiry

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written to the chairman of the UK Business Select Committee Darren Jones calling for an inquiry into the crisis at Fife turbine manufacturer BiFab.

It comes after the Scottish Government withdrew a £30m guarantee that would have sustained 450 jobs at the Fife yard blaming State Aid regulations.

Mr Brown says today that this decision was based on “incomplete information, dubious financial arithmetic and misleading Government statements.”

He is also backing constituency MSP Alex Rowley’s demand for a parallel inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee.

Covid dividing the nation

Covid-19 will worsen the UK’s north/south economic divide according to a poll of 500 medium-sized business leaders, published today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.  

According to the survey, 30% of medium-sized business leaders believe the outbreak of the virus has already widened the economic gap between the UK’s regions and more than a third (38%) of those surveyed believe the disruption caused by the pandemic will slow down levelling-up progress.

Today’s agenda

* CBI annual conference: Business Secretary Alok Sharma replaces the Prime Minister as the Government’s key speaker

* Scotland moves into new five-level restrictions

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Firms facing wave of Covid employment claims

Scots await update on rule banning holidays abroad

Sainsbury’s may sell bank amid tight margin

Howie buys back recycling business 

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