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Energy bills to rise as utility price cap ends; shops footfall steepens
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4.30pm: FTSE nudges lower
The FTSE 100 recovered from a sharp mid-afternoon dip to close 14.39 points lower at 6,489.33.
4pm: Aggeko bid offer
TDR Capital and I Squared Capital have tabled a joint takeover proposal to Aggreko, according to City sources.
8am: FTSE flat
The FTSE 100 opened 8 points up but is now trading just above last night’s close at 6,505.19.
7am: Utility price cap
Utility bills are set to rise after Ofgem announced that from 1 April the price cap will return to pre-pandemic levels, principally as a result of changes in wholesale energy prices.
When wholesale prices fell sharply last year in the wake of the first lockdown, the level of the price cap fell by £84 in October to its lowest level yet for the current winter period.
Demand for energy has since recovered which has pushed wholesale prices back up to more normal levels.
For six months from 1 April typical bills will increase by £96 to £1,138 for 11 million default tariff customers, and by £87 to £1,156 for four million pre-payment meter customers.
Retail footfall falls
Year on year Scottish footfall in Scottish shops slumped by 72.5% in January, a 22.3 percentage point further decline from December. This is above the UK average decline of 76.9%.
David Lonsdale, director, Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “We hope to see a broader recovery plan from government for when stores are permitted to re-open, one which includes short term action to kick-start consumer demand and transactions but which also provides clarity over rates relief for the second half of 2021.”
Wall Street was buoyed by hopes that President Joe Biden’s stimulus package would pass through the US Senate relatively little changed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 332 points while the S&P 500 surged 42 points.
The mood in Asia was equally upbeat with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index firmer.
Sterling was 0.08 cents stronger at $1.3679 while Brent crude was trading 41 cents higher at $59.25 a barrel.