- Mike Lynch faces imminent US extradition order after legal defeat
- Rishi to the rescue: why Sunak is digging in on National Insurance rise
- FTSE 100 rises 1.3pc; Brent crude nears $90
- Ben Wright: Britain cannot turn a blind eye to Chinese economic imperialism as war threatens
- Sign up here for our daily business briefing newsletter
O il prices have surged past $90 a barrel for the first time since 2014 as growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine add further fuel to a recent price spike.
Benchmark Brent crude topped the latest milestone, while West Texas Intermediate gained 1.6pc to almost $87.
The stand-off between Russia and NATO over a potential conflict in Ukraine has been the major driving force behind price rises in recent days, but a drop in US inventories compounded supply worries.
The crisis threatens to add even more inflationary pressures at a time when price growth is already at its highest level in decades.
T hat’s all from us this evening, thank you for following! Here are some of the latest stories from the business desk:
- Citigroup backs the office with £100m revamp of London skyscraper
- ONS inflation overhaul to fall short of food poverty campaigner Jack Monroe’s demands
- Mike Lynch faces imminent US extradition order after legal defeat
- Jes Staley lobbied JP Morgan to keep Jeffrey Epstein as a client despite conviction
- Why Sunak is digging in on National Insurance rise
FTSE 100 closes in the green
T he FTSE 100 has had another positive run with heavyweight mining, energy and banking shares leading gains before the outcome of the US Federal Reserve meeting later tonight.
The blue-chip index rose 1.3pc to 7,469 with Royal Dutch Shell, Glencore and HSBC topping the risers.
The FTSE 100 has gained 1.3pc so far this year, significantly outperforming a 4.4pc drop in the wider European stock aggregate, helped by cheap valuations, strong banking and energy gains and a lower exposure to tech.
“There is a lot of global rotation out of growth into value stocks and the FTSE 100 is full of value stocks and that is one of the key reasons why the FTSE has outperformed and we expect this trend to carry on,” said Keith Temperton, sales trader at Forte Securities.
Deloitte will let UK staff take public holidays whenever they want
D eloitte is letting its UK employees choose when to take public holidays, in the latest example of businesses offering more flexible working practices in the aftermath of Covid.
The professional services firm said that its 22,000 staff could opt to move time off that would normally fall around holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Deloitte launched a flexible working model for its UK staff last year.
Jackie Henry, managing partner for people, said: "Our new approach means that our people can choose to take public holiday leave on the dates that are most meaningful to them, in addition to their contractual and purchased holiday allowance.
"They are still entitled to take public holidays on the days they fall, or they can take these days off at a different time of the year if they prefer."
Mattel wins back licensing rights for Disney’s princess and ‘Frozen’ franchises
T oy company Mattel has won back the licensing rights for Disney’s princess and ‘Frozen’ franchises.
The reunion comes after Hasbro bested the rights for the ‘Frozen’ and princess products away from Mattel in 2014. Disney released ‘Frozen’ in movie theaters in November 2013, and it became an instant success. ‘Frozen’ and the sequel, ‘Frozen II’, are in the top 20 highest grossing films of all time.
The new multiyear global deal between Disney and Mattel will allow Mattel to develop lines of toys for Disney consumer products, games and publishing, including fashion dolls, small dolls, and figures.
Crippling shortage of cabin crew puts £100m bonus for Wizz Air boss at risk
T he boss of Wizz Air has insisted that a shortage of cabin crew will not put his £100m bonus at risk. Oliver Gill has more:
Jozsef Varadi, chief executive, admitted that finding new flight attendants is a challenge as the FTSE 250-listed airline forges ahead with an ambitious growth plan.
The Hungarian founder is in line for a £100m payday if he can double the airline's shares over the next five years.
Wizz is planning to increase its fleet from 179 to 383 aircraft by 2027 as it takes on Ryanair to be Europe's biggest low-cost carrier. However, an industry-wide shortage of cabin crew threatens to slow these expansion plans.
CMC Markets on track to launch new UK investment platform
S pread betting firm CMC Markets said it was on track to hit targets this year and assets under management were “close to record highs”.
The company, headed by former Tory Party treasurer Lord Cruddas, said its online trading platform is expected to see operating income for the year to be between £250m and £280m. Plans to set up its own non-leveraged trading platform in the UK remain on track.
Lord Cruddas said: “The team is on track to launch our new UK investment platform in the first half of the calendar year.”
T hat’s all from me today – thanks for following! Giulia Bottaro will take over from here.
Chart: Brent crude hits $90
B enchmark Brent crude has jumped past $90 this afternoon – the first time it’s hit that level since October 2014.
The price surge comes amid Russia-Ukraine tensions, as well as lower supplies as demand holds up despite the pandemic.
Payments firm SumUp eyes €20bn valuation
S umUp is said to be considering raising new money in a funding round that could value it at about €20bn (£16.7bn).
The London-based payments firms could look to raise more than €500m from investors in a deal that would make it one of Britain’s most valuable startups, Bloomberg reports.
SumUp’s card readers are popular among small businesses. It also offers links for accepting payments online, as well as invoicing and QR codes.
The company raised €750m in March last year from investors including Goldman Sachs and Temasek Holdings.
Barclays lost ‘about $100m’ after on biotech deal collapse
T he collapse of an $8bn (£5.9bn) biotech deal and a slump in the Swedish krona is said to have left Barclays with a nine-figure loss last month.
The bank lost about $100m on currency hedges after private equity firm Advent International and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund pulled out of their joint bid for Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi), Bloomberg reports.
Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank are also said to have lost about $20m each on the trades.
In September Advent and GIC launched their bid to buy Sobi for 69bn krona in what would have been the biggest Nordic buyout in years.
As part of the deal, Advent entered into a so-called deal contingent currency trade to reduce its exposure to swings in the krona. It was looking to hedge about $3bn worth of krona, with Barclays taking on a major chunk of the trade.
US goods trade gap hits record high
T he US trade deficit in goods widened to a record high in December as imports continued to rise, suggesting trade is likely to have weighed on economic growth in the fourth quarter.
The deficit rose 3pc to an all-time high of $101bn (£75bn) last month. The trade gap is likely to remain large for a while as business continue to replenish depleted inventories.
But the Commerce Department figures also showed a sharp growth in inventories at retailers and wholesalers, which may have offset the impact on GDP.
Figures for US fourth-quarter GDP are due tomorrow.
Energy price cap now cheapest deal on the market
T he energy price cap is now level with the cheapest deals available on the market in a sign soaring wholesale costs have forced suppliers to push up their prices.
Research from Cornwall Insight shows there’s just a £2-per-year difference between the default tariff cap and the cheapest deals – a huge reduction on the £171 difference in December 2020.
The gap stayed stagnant between October and December 2021, confirming predictions that the forecasted 50pc rise in the price cap from April will affect most consumers, with cheaper deals simply not available.
James Mabey, analyst at Cornwall Insight, said:
If we want to get a handle on this ever-volatile market, some serious long-term decisions on the future of the default tariff cap, pricing in the wholesale market and where the UK sources its energy from will need to be made.
Wall Street opens higher ahead of Fed decision
W all Street has pushed higher after two days of turbulent trading as traders held their breath ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates later.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones rose 1.2pc and 0.7pc respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led gains, jumping 2.5pc.
Rishi Sunak: I’m not writing off Covid fraud
C hancellor Rishi Sunak has insisted he isn’t “writing off” £4.3bn of Covid fraud, just days after officials documents revealed he was doing just that.
The Treasury has written off £4.3bn of £5.8bn that was stolen from its emergency pandemic schemes – including furlough and Eat Out to Help Out. It means just a quarter of the stolen public funds will be recouped.
The move has sparked controversy, with Tory Treasury minister Lord Agnew resigning over the issue. Boris Johnson also appeared to distance himself from the decision during Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon.
In a tweet, the Chancellor said: “No, I'm not ignoring it, and I’m definitely not 'writing it off'”. Actual evidence for this claim, though, is somewhat lacking…
Jes Staley lobbied JP Morgan to keep Jeffrey Epstein as a client despite conviction
J es Staley encouraged JP Morgan, his former employer, to keep the late Jeffrey Epstein as a client even though he had been convicted of prostitution offences, it has emerged.
Lucy Burton has the details:
The former Barclays chief executive resigned late last year after the bank's board saw the draft results of an inquiry examining the nature of his relationship with the convicted sex offender, who was a key client when Mr Staley worked at JP Morgan.
Sources told the Financial Times that Mr Staley asked senior officials at JP Morgan whether Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from underage girls in Florida was grounds to remove him as a client.
One of the sources claimed that in the year before the US bank dropped Epstein as a client in 2013 Mr Staley had argued that the billionaire had served his prison sentence and paid his debt to society.
Spokesmen for Mr Staley and JP Morgan declined to comment.
Fortnum & Mason ‘in talks’ over Qatar opening
F ortnum & Mason is said to be in talks to open an outlet in Qatar amid growing interest in the gulf state ahead of the World Cup later this year.
Sky News reports that bosses at the 315-year-old department store are in discussions with potential franchise partners about the move. It would be Fortnum’s first store in the country, though it did briefly have an outlet in Dubai.
The high-end retailer, which is owned by the Weston family, has a store in Hong Kong and partnerships in Australia and Japan.
But a move into Qatar could boost its international profile ahead of the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in November.
Tech stocks set to lead Wall Street higher
U S stocks are poised to open higher this afternoon, led by gains for tech stocks after Microsoft issued a strong forecast for revenue growth.
Markets have been roiled by two days of wild swings, driven by tensions between Russia and Ukraine and uncertainty over the Fed’s next move on interest rates.
But stocks were back on the rise today – hours ahead of the Fed’s decision is due. Microsoft rose 3.2pc in pre-market trading after its trading update beat expectations.
Futures tracking the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 2pc, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were up 1.1pc and 0.8pc respectively.
Intel has €1bn antitrust fine overturned
I ntel has scored a major legal victory against the EU this morning after a court quashed a €1bn (£830m) fine handed down over a decade ago.
The EU’s General Court annulled the fine that competition regulators issued in 2009 for allegedly using illegal sales tactics to shut out smaller rival AMD.
It marks a reversal of the original verdict after the bloc’s top court ordered a review of the decision.
This time around, the General Court found that “the analysis carried out by the Commission is incomplete” and didn’t legally establish that rebates Intel was giving to customers had anticompetitive effects.
Xbox to change subscription practices after watchdog probe
M icrosoft has agreed to change how it renews online gaming subscriptions for its Xbox consoles in the UK after an intervention by the regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was concerned about whether it was clear to customers that Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass subscriptions would automatically renew, and whether gamers may not have realised they were still paying for services they no longer used.
Microsoft has now agreed to be more transparent about how subscriptions work, to offer refunds for accidental renewals and to contact users with inactive subscriptions.
Michael Grenfell at the CMA said:
Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions.
We are therefore pleased that Microsoft has given the CMA these formal undertakings to improve the fairness of their practices and protect consumers, and will be offering refunds to certain customers.
Germany cuts 2022 growth forecast
G ermany has cut its economic growth forecast for 2022 as the surge in omicron cases holds back Europe’s largest economy.
The country’s GDP is now expected to expand 3.6pc this year – down from previous forecasts of 4.1pc.
The economy ministry warned the start of the year would be subdued due to the impact of the pandemic, with the services sector the worst hit.
But it said the recovery should “noticeably” pick up pace once infections die down and supply chain troubles ease through the year.
The ministry’s forecast is more pessimistic than that of the Bundesbank, which is pencilling in growth of 4.2pc.
BT shares rise on bullish JP Morgan note
S hares in BT have risen 2pc this morning after JP Morgan issued a bullish note on the outlook for the telecoms giant.
The Wall Street bank said it saw “scope for upgrades” if the recent increase in retail prices is successful, with the possibility of 4pc gains year on year.
Mike Lynch faces extradition to US after High Court defeat
H ere’s some more on the Mike Lynch judgement from my colleague James Titcomb :
The ruling is a blow to Mr Lynch's chances of fighting extradition to the US, where he could face a prison sentence of decades if found guilty.
Mr Justice Swift dismissed a High Court judicial review of Mr Lynch's legal attempt to extend the Home Secretary's deadline for approving extradition until March. The entrepreneur had sought this delay to buy time for a key legal ruling to be issued in this country that could alter his fate.
Ms Patel is now believed to have a short deadline in which to decide, unless further legal challenges are lodged.
Mr Lynch, 56, is wanted on 17 counts of fraud over the $11bn (£8bn) sale of the former FTSE 100 software company Autonomy to Hewlett Packard in 2011. The US claims Mr Lynch and other Autonomy executives fraudulently inflated the company’s value before the sale, which he denies.
A judge ordered his extradition in July, but Ms Patel has sought to wait until a judgement in a $5bn civil case against Mr Lynch is made, which could change her decision. That judgement is expected in the coming weeks.
Mr Lynch may appeal the decision.
L et’s check in with the Telegraph’s excellent Money team – here are some of their top stories today:
- Your pay rise will be scrapped unless National Insurance hike is cancelled – Business leaders sound the alarm over Chancellor’s plan
- Our state pension is sexist – we need to change it – We have been told it’s more generous, but it’s funded by taking money away from hard-working and poorer women
- Freelancers charged higher tax rates after taking Covid grants – Flaw in the tax system is forcing people into the higher 40pc bracket
Mike Lynch loses bid to delay extradition decision
T ech entrepreneur Mike Lynch has failed in his bid to delay a decision over extradition to the US after a High Court judge ruled against him.
The verdict means Home Secretary Priti Patel will have to decide within days whether the tycoon should be extradited to face charges over multibillion-dollar alleged fraud.
Mr Lynch had sought to delay extradition proceedings pending the outcome of HP’s civil case against him.
US authorities are pursuing Mr Lynch on fraud claims relating to the $11bn (£8.5bn) sale of his software business Autonomy to HP in 2011.
Gas prices slump as Russia increases supplies
N atural gas prices fell this morning as Russia finally stepped up supplies to Europe – though tensions with Ukraine are mounting.
Orders to send gas to the continent jumped by more than a third to the highest level since New Year’s Eve. Although flows are twice last week’s level, they still remain below normal.
Still, concerns persist over the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukraine border, with fears an invasion could be imminent. The geopolitical tensions have pushed up gas prices amid the risk that conflict could disrupt suppliers.
US fund offers £38m to keep The Wolseley trading
A US investment fund is said to have offered £38m to keep some of London’s most famous restaurants afloat, just hours after the company was forced into administration.
Sky News reports that Knighthead Capital Management has told the administrators of Corbin & King, which owns restaurants including The Wolseley and The Delaunay, that it’s prepared to refinance all outstanding loans owed to Minor International.
It comes after Minor said it had called in FRP Advisory as administrators to Corbin & King’s holding company, whose portfolio also includes Colbert.
Read more on this story: Owner of the Wolseley, restaurant to the rich and famous, pushed into administration
Playtech slides amid doubts over takeover
P laytech has slumped to the bottom of the FTSE 250 amid concerns a takeover bid by Australian gambling group Aristocrat may fall through.
Sky News reported that bosses were considering a break-up of Playtech if Aristocrat’s £2.7bn offer is blocked by a group of Asian shareholders.
Concerns are mounting over a group of investors that hold roughly a quarter of the company’s shares. A break-up would lead to the separate disposals of Playtech’s business-to-business division and Italian consumer arm Snaitech.
It comes a week after another takeover approach led by former Formula One boss Eddie Jordan was abandoned.
Shares dropped as much as 4.2pc, before clawing back some losses to trade down 2.3pc.
Picasso heirs launch NFTs amid crypto craze
H eirs of Pablo Picasso are set to sell digital versions of one of the Spanish artist’s ceramic works as they look to cash in on the crypto boom.
Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, and her son Florian Picasso will sell 1,010 copies of the work – which has never been seen before publicly – as demand grows for so-called non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Price surge could take out more suppliers, says energy boss
T he surge in power and natural gas prices could spark further supplier collapses, according to the boss of one of the firms still standing.
Bill Bullen, chief executive of Utilita Energy, said that while household suppliers were struggling, the price rises were also affecting companies that sell to businesses – which could deepen the extent of the crisis.
Consumers are currently being shielded from the worst of the volatility by the energy price cap, but this is set to change dramatically when Ofgem lifts the limit next month.
Mr Bullen told Bloomberg: "This is without a doubt the biggest single change in retail prices that we've seen."
Sterling edges higher ahead of Sue Gray report
T he pound inched higher against the dollar this morning with traders focusing on potential fallout from a report into lockdown parties at Downing Street.
The furore over cake-fuelled meetings at No 10 has had limited impact on the currency so far. But with Sue Gray’s findings due to be published later, markets are braced for possible drama.
All eyes will also be on the Federal Reserve later, which is due to signal its plans for interest rate rises.
The pound ticked up 0.1pc against the dollar to $1.3511. Against the euro, it was also up 0.1pc to 83.58pc.
Fresnillo plunges as Covid absences weigh
A t the other end of the spectrum, things aren’t looking so rosy for Fresnillo.
The FTSE 100 miner has plunged 12.7pc to the bottom of the blue-chip index after cutting its production guidance due to Covid-related absences.
The firm said a fourth wave of infections in Mexico had increased staff absences, while new labour laws in the country around the use of contractors also hit workforce availability.
As a result, Fresnillo lowers its silver production guidance for 2022 to between 50.5m and 56.5m ounces. It also slashed its outlook for gold output.
Bloomsbury jumps as reading boom boosts profits
S hares in Bloomsbury have surged in early trading as the publishing house continues to cash in on the pandemic reading boom.
The Harry Potter publisher said full-year revenue and profit will come in “materially” ahead of expectations thanks to strong sales of both adult and children’s books.
Shares jumped as much as 9pc before settling up 7.7pc.
FTSE risers and fallers
T he FTSE 100 has had a positive start to the day and is now trading 1.4pc higher.
Heavyweight energy and mining stocks including BP , Shell and Glencore are helping to drive the index higher, while banking stocks such as HSBC have also gained on expectations of an interest rate rise ahead of the Fed decision later today.
It’s also a strong start for travel and leisure stocks, with optimism growing about the recovery as the UK eases testing rules.
British Airways owner IAG has jumped 5.5pc to the top of the FTSE, while InterContinental Hotels Group and Premier Inn owner Whitbread are both up around 4pc.
The domestically-focused FTSE 250 is also up 1.4pc, with travel and leisure stocks leading gains.
Citi plans £100m revamp of Canary Wharf skyscraper
C itigroup is plotting a £100m revamp of its Canary Wharf offices as it paves the way for more flexible ways of working.
The US bank said the renovation of its 42-storey skyscraper at 25 Canada Square will take three years. All staff will need to relocate to its adjacent offices while the work take place.
The refurbished Citi Tower, which the lender bought for £1bn in 2019, will have a greater emphases on shared work spaces and energy efficiency.
Features include a new ground floor connecting visitors to Canada Square and Jubilee Park, as well as the creation of a winter garden and health gardens.
Citi last week told staff to come in at least three days a week following the scrapping of work from home guidance.
Sage shares dip after ‘mixed’ start to year
S hares in Sage Group have slipped after it posted a trading update that received a lukewarm reception from analysts.
The software firm posted a 5pc rise in organic total revenue to £458m in the first quarter and reiterated its guidance for the full year.
Analysts at Jefferies said it was a mixed start to 2022, describing the growth as “somewhat light”. But they pointed to organic revenue figures suggesting new customer acquisition over the period was strong.
Shares in Sage initially pushed as much as 1.2pc higher, before falling 0.3pc.
M&G takes stake in wealth manager Moneyfarm
M &G has taken a minority stake in digital wealth manager Moneyfarm after leading a £44.1m funding round.
The FTSE 100 firm, which has more than £370bn of assets under management, has also inked a deal to launch a new digital investment platform under the M&G Wealth brand.
The latest funding round, which was also backed by Poste Italiane, means Moneyfarm has now raised £139m since its launch in 2012.
The company said it would use the fresh capital to help fund its expansion plans and new product development.
Bentley to develop its first electric car in Britain
B entley will develop its first fully electric car in Britain as part of a £2.5bn plan to develop its Crewe headquarters.
Howard Mustoe has more:
The Volkswagen-owned carmaker said its first battery-electric vehicle will be ready in three years while the company will be "exclusively electric and end-to-end carbon neutral" by 2030.
Bentley will upgrade its Crewe factory as part of the 10-year plan that aims to cut water consumption and waste as well as carbon output.
Adrian Hallmark, chief executive of Bentley Motors, said securing production of its first all-electric car in Crewe was a "milestone moment" for the company.
FTSE 100 jumps
T he FTSE 100 has gained ground at the open, building on Tuesday’s gains amid volatile trading on global markets.
The blue-chip index has risen 0.9pc to 7,436 points.
Pets at Home cashes in on pandemic puppies
P ets at Home has upgraded its profit expectations as it continues to enjoy a boost from pet ownership during the pandemic.
The retailer posted sales of £319.4m in the 12 weeks to December 30, a jump of 5.8pc on the same period a year ago.
The company said it had cashed in on higher demand for premium products as Brits pampered their pets, while its vets business also grew 4pc. As a result, it upgraded forecasts for pre-tax profit to at least £140m.
However, Pets at Home warned it was starting to feel the effects of inflation, with supply chain costs increasing.
The company said:
We, like many others, are witnessing a number of inflationary pressures across the supply chain. While we are not immune to these challenges, we are proactively mitigating them through a series of planned initiatives.
Stagecoach deal with National Express faces watchdog probe
T he competition watchdog is opening an investigation into the £1.9bn merger between Stagecoach and National Express.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it’s served a so-called initial enforcement order, which stops the companies from fully combining while it considers the deal.
Stagecoach said the move will delay the planned sale of the marketing, retail and customer service operations of its inter-city coach businesses to ComfortDelGro.
It added that both sides continue to believe the sale will be a “comprehensive solution to any competition concerns that might arise from their overlapping coach operations”.
Stagecoach and National Express agreed an all-share merger last month in a deal that will create a combined firm worth about £1.9bn with a fleet of about 40,000 vehicles and a workforce of 70,000 people.
Wizz Air ‘cautiously optimistic’ over recovery
J ozsef Varadi , chief executive of Wizz Air, says the airline is aiming to return almost to full capacity in the summer.
Throughout the third quarter we continued to stimulate demand with pricing, whilst staying agile in adjusting capacity that is not cash-contribution positive.
The emergence of the omicron variant and renewed travel restrictions impacted our trading performance late in the quarter and we expect demand in January, February and part of March to be impacted by ongoing travel uncertainty. As such, Wizz Air anticipates the operating loss for the fourth quarter to be slightly higher than the operating loss of €213.6m for the third quarter.
Despite the short-term headwinds, we are cautiously optimistic for a continued recovery into spring and near-full utilisation from summer onwards. We continue to back our strategic choices to invest in our fleet, grow our bases and routes, and lower our unit cost in order to take advantage of the market created in the wake of Covid-19.
Wizz Air losses mount
G ood morning.
The figures for Wizz Air show there’s still some way to go for the airline industry’s recovery, with omicron denting demand in the final three months of the year.
The Hungarian airline dropped to a €213.6m (£179m) loss in its third quarter, and warned this would deepen over the next three months as travel uncertainty lingered.
Wizz Air is pursuing an aggressive expansion plan as it looks to narrow the gap with rival Ryanair. Chief executive Jozsef Varadi has ordered more jets and bought slots at Gatwick airport to help fuel growth.
5 things to start your day
1) Bentley to develop its first electric car in Britain The carmaker plans an upgrade of its Crewe headquarters, where the new model will be produced
2) Boost for post-Brexit Britain as firms focus on the City EY report finds nine in ten major financial services firms plan to establish or boost operations in the Square Mile
3) Owner of the Wolseley, restaurant to the rich and famous, pushed into administration Angry investor Minor International said Corbin & King “is insolvent and is in strong need of further financial support”
4) $40bn Arm takeover in doubt amid mounting Nvidia gloom Regulatory hold-ups leave US chip giant facing a $1.25bn fee if deal blocked
5) How the Covid loans scheme sparked an unprecedented wave of fraud and a Whitehall blame game ‘Schoolboy errors’ and fewer fraud checks cost taxpayers billions
What happened overnight
Asian share markets got off to a cautious start on Wednesday, after another volatile Wall Street session, as investors braced for the outcome of the Fed’s meeting late in the day and any hints about faster tightening of monetary policy.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.26pc early on Wednesday, but the index has skidded 2.4pc this year, and is testing mid-December’s one-year low.
Concerns that the Fed’s expected interest rate hikes could hammer Asia’s equities markets have dragged on the regional benchmark, though moves elsewhere have been even more dramatic.
Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.8pc to hover around its lowest level since December 2020.
In early trade on Wednesday morning, China’s blue-chip index rose 0.4pc, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.6pc.
Coming up today
- Corporate: Brewin Dolphin, CMC Markets, Fresnillo, Pets at Home, Quilter, Sage Group, Wizz Air (Trading update)
- Economics: Federal Reserve interest rate decision (US) , Fed monetary policy statement (US) , new home sales (US)
- Motor Trend 2014 Truck of the Year Contenders
- Asda cuts petrol prices as wholesale costs drop
- Asda and Morrisons cut petrol prices with Tesco and Sainsbury's set to follow suit
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