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Oil rises; Lastminute.com warned ; GDP falls by 9.9%

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Maersk oil field

4.30pm: Oil up on US hopes

Oil prices edged higher on Friday, buoyed by hopes for a U.S. stimulus bill, but a weaker demand outlook from OPEC and the International Energy Agency capped gains.

Brent crude was up 38 cents, or 0.6%, at $61.52 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. ET (1606 GMT).

All three major US stock indexes were on course for their second straight weekly rise.

All three major US stock indexes were on course for their second straight weekly rise.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 61.07 points or 0.9%, at 6,589.79 – closing the week 1.3% higher.

AstraZeneca ended up 1.1% and was up 1.2% for the week after reporting positive annual results on Thursday while St James’s Place ended the week as the best performer, up 3,.9%.

Sterling fell to a low of $1.3780 immediately after the release of UK economic growth data showing GDP fell 9.9% last year.

9.15am: KPMG chairman quits

Bill Michael, the chairman of accountancy firm KPMG, has resigned following a backlash over remarks made to staff which dismissed concerns about COVID crisis fatigue.

Mr Michael reportedly told the online gathering involving hundreds of workers on Monday that they should stop “moaning” and “playing the victim card”.

Full story here

8.30am: London lower

The FTSE 100 opened lower and was trading down 32.45 points at 6,496.27.

7am: Lastminute.com warned

Thomas Cook holidays

Online travel agent Lastminute.com will be taken to court unless it pays more than £1m of outstanding refunds, the competition regulator has said.

Lastminute.com had promised to refund people for package holidays cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it missed a repayment deadline at the end of January.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the company needed to pay people back within seven days to avoid court action.

BiFab yards acquired

Two of the three BiFab yards have been acquired by Infrastrata which owns the Belfast ship repair and offshore construction company Harland & Wolff and the Devon yard Appledore.

BiFab went into administration after failing to pick up work on a new offshore facility.

Full story here

6.30am: GDP picks up

UK gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.2% in December, beating economists’ expectations of a rise of 1%.

In the fourth quarter, GDP is estimated to have grown by 1%, following revised 16.1% growth in the third quarter.

Despite two consecutive quarters of growth, the level of GDP in the UK is down 7.8% year-on-year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Over the year, GDP contracted by 9.9%, making it the worst year on record in terms of a decline in output.

“There has been a further recovery in government consumption and, to a lesser extent, business investment in Quarter 4 2020 reflecting the easing of public health restrictions; however, the levels remain below their pre-lockdown level,” the ONS said.

Markets

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day seven points lower while S&P 500 climbed seven points.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan was off 85 points.

Oil is trading at $60.73 a barrel, down 41 cents



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