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Barnier: ‘only a few hours to rescue Brexit talks’

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4.30pm: Market closes lower

The FTSE 100 closed down 29.29 points at 6,521.77.

IbisVision

4pm: Vision funding

IbisVision, whose breakthrough technology allows opticians to test patients remotely, completed a round of capital raising in the fourth quarter.

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11am: Manufacturing stronger

Manufacturing order books improved to their strongest in ten months in December but remained weak by historical standards, according to the latest CBI monthly Industrial Trends Survey.

By comparison, the improvement in export order books was much less marked, leaving order books far below their long-run average.

10.30am: Ineos takes stake in F1 team

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s chemicals and fledgling car manufacturer Ineos, has taken a minority stake in the Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes Formula One team.

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Michel Barnier

9.30am: ‘Moment of truth’ in Brexit talks

EU negotiator Michel Barnier says there are “just a few hours left” for the UK and EU to agree a post-Brexit trade deal.

He told MEPs that “the moment of truth” had arrived for the two sides to come to an agreement.

Mr Barnier said there was still a “chance” of a deal, but the “path is very narrow”.

His comments follow a warning from Boris Johnson that a no deal scenario was “very likely” unless the EU’s position changed “substantially”.

EU leaders traced for Covid

European leaders are being traced by medics after being in close contact with France’s president Emmanuel Macron, who tested positive for coronavirus.

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said today he had tested positive for Covid-19, a week after he attended an EU summit in Brussels.

Mr Macron met a long list of EU leaders in Paris and Brussels in recent days and the leaders of Spain and Portugal are among those now in isolation.   

The French leader, 42, is isolating in Versaille where he is suffering a fever, a cough and fatigue and has a military doctor at his bedside.

8am: Markets rise despite Brexit caution

The FTSE 100 defied predictions of a slide on opening, with a slight rise to 6,562.80, up 11.74 points (0.18%).

Analysts had expected the index to fall on talk of the Brexit negotiations failing.

high street shopping at Easter

7am: Retail sales hit by lockdown

UK retail sales fell by 3.8% last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Online retailing accounted for 31.4% of the total, compared with 28.6% a year earlier.

The ONS said feedback from businesses suggested that consumers had brought forward Christmas spending.

Despite the monthly fall, overall sales remain above their pre-pandemic levels.

Consumers offered some Christmas cheer for retailers after a survey revealed they are at their most confident for eight years in December.

The buoyant mood follows the launch of the coronavirus vaccine programme, says a survey published by market research company GfK. Its index rose to -26 from -33 in November.

“Consumers are looking for good news and they have found it in the form of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme getting underway, which has lifted the mood pre-Christmas 2020,” Joe Staton, GfK’s client strategy director, said.

The last time the index jumped by more than seven points was between October and November 2012.

GfK said consumers’ greater willingness to make major purchases was good news for retailers.

Mulberry goes solo

Fashion retailer Mulberry said it noted yesterday’s announcement by Frasers that it does not intend to make an offer for the company.

Godfrey Davis, chairman of Mulberry, commented: “We continue to make significant progress in building Mulberry as a sustainable global luxury brand, creating value for all our stakeholders.

“This is focused around our omni-channel network and market leading digital platform; increasing our Asian footprint; and a relentless focus on innovation and sustainability, offering our customers beautiful products, made to last in our Somerset factories.”

Barclays

Gillies steps up at Barclays

Scottish businessman Crawford Gillies is to succeed Sir Ian Cheshire as chairman of Barclays Bank.

Mr Gillies, chairman of Edrington and a former chairman of Scottish Enterprise, will take over on 1 January.  Sir Ian will stay on the board until the AGM in May in order to help ensure a smooth transition.

Full story here

Markets – Asia slides on US ‘blacklisting’

Spread betting firms expect the FTSE 100 to fall back by about 23 points to 6,528 as the Brexit negotiations stumble into another weekend.

Some analysts still believe a deal can be thrashed by Sunday, a new deadline set by the EU negotiators who fear time is running out for MEPs to scrutinise and vote on any agreement before the 31 December when transition period ends.

Meanwhile, US indices continued to soar on hopes of a new stimulus package. Many investors saw the passing of new measures to support the economy as imminent after data showed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week.

Asian markets went in the other direction with Japan’s Nikkei down 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1% lower after Reuters reported that the US is set to add dozens of Chinese companies, including the country’s top chipmaker SMIC, to a trade blacklist later in the day.



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