Masters 2018: John Higgins beats Ryan Day to reach semi-finals

Two-time Masters winner John Higgins moves into the semi-finals of the 2018 event with a 6-1 victory over Ryan Day.

Brighton sign Jurgen Locadia from PSV for club record fee

Brighton break their transfer record to sign striker Jurgen Locadia from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven for a reported fee of about £14m.

The Guardian view on a caring capitalism: healing an unhappy society | Editorial

It is time to base the economy on a more rounded view of human nature than that one that just considers individuals as selfish calculators of utility

The zero-sum game of competition for money and status that has gripped societies over the past 30 years have made their publics richer overall and given them longer lives of better quality. It has led to an embarrassing wealth of consumer goods. But it is also increasingly clear that the me-first model of modern economies is a big source of unhappiness. When life feels like a cut-throat contest each one of us is encouraged to chase income and rank. In a rat race improving one’s income causes others to feel dissatisfied with theirs. One person’s pay rise is another’s psychic loss. Envy spreads despair, encouraging workers to devote more time to making money than to family or community.

Such competition weighs heavily on national wellbeing. A slice of Britain seem to be losing hope; the lives of poorer citizens are unhappier than their richer peers in ways that simply having less money cannot explain. Our story revealing that private insurers refuse policies to people suffering even mild mental health conditions shows how those who suffer could be shut out of society. Medical research shows that happier people heal quicker, worrying given measures of wellbeing show the proportions of people satisfied with their health, home and income to have fallen over the past three years.

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UK retail sales fall sharply in December – business live

UK retail sales fell by 1.5% in December in the latest sign that consumers were feeling the strain of falling real pay over the crucial Christmas shopping period

The work and pensions select committee has written to the pensions regulator with a series of questions on Carillion.

Publishing the letter, Frank Field, Labour MP and chair of the committee, said:

I am pleased that the liaison committee will be investigating Carillion – the company’s collapse begs questions across government.

We have some specific concerns on the pensions side. It beggars belief that a company can be allowed to run with such apparent recklessness – and be so lucrative for the directors and shareholders – when it has a giant pension deficit and a mountain of debt.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency against a basket of other major currencies, has hit a new three-year low today of 90.331.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch believe the dollar will recover some ground against the euro in the coming months.

S upport for EUR/USD from forward rate divergence may be peaking whilst markets look ahead to the European Central Bank meeting and any commentary on the euro from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi.

EUR/USD could be vulnerable from a dovish Draghi.

More here on this morning’s dismal UK retail sales data:

Related: British shoppers reined in Christmas spending, official figures show

The STOXX 600, comprising some of the biggest companies across Europe, is at the highest level since August 2015:

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

Investors are in buoyant mood this morning, with gains in all major markets despite the strength of the euro and the pound against the dollar.

The FTSE is up 15 points.

Ruth Gregory at Capital Economics says the drop in December retail sales signals “a disappointing end to 2017”.

We’ll get the first official estimate of UK economic growth in the final quarter of 2017 from the ONS next week, on 26 January.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, says retail sales did little to boost the economy in the final quarter of 2017.

We’ve been waiting for the pay squeeze to filter through to the high street, but so far retail sales have held up better than many expected. Today’s retail sales data from the ONS disappointed, however, with consumers cutting back on Christmas spending after November’s Black Friday splurge. This continues the trend of bringing Christmas spending forward to take advantage of early discounts.

The figures undershot expectations by some margin, falling 1.5% on the month and rising just 1.4% year-on-year. Economists had forecast the latter number at 3.0%. This means retail sales made next to no contribution to UK economic growth in the final three months of 2017.

The figures from the ONS show that retail sales on 2017 overall rose by 1.9% – the weakest annual growth rate since 2013.

The drop in UK retail sales in December has so far failed to hit the pound, which is still up 0.2% at $1.3918.

Sterling is down 0.1% against the euro, at €1.1332, not far off where it was before the retail figures were published.

The sharp fall in retail sales over the month of December (-1.5%) can partly be explained be Black Friday sales, which encouraged shoppers to bring forward some of their Christmas spending to November.

Retail sales continued to grow in the last three months of the year partly due to Black Friday deals boosting spending. Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years.

However, the longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people’s spending.

Ouch. UK retail sales fell by 1.5% in December, more sharply than the 0.6% drop forecast by economists.

It was also a lot worse than November, when sales rose 1%.

The market value of Dignity, one of Britain’s biggest funeral providers, has halved this morning after the company warned that it would have to cut its prices this year as a result of intense competition.

Shares are down 50% at 959p, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 250.

While the pre-arranged and crematoria businesses are performing strongly with no change to the board’s expectations for these businesses, the board is keen to address the continuing acceleration of price competition facing its funeral business.

The board is therefore taking decisive action on its funeral pricing strategy with a view to protecting market share and repositioning the group for future growth. Consequently, the board believes that the results for the period ending 28 December 2018 will be substantially below the market’s current expectations.

The business secretary Greg Clark was put on the defensive when interviewed about Carillion by Nick Robinson on Today.

Greg Clark has just acknowledged this on #today but insisted that ministers were kept up to speed throughout that period

Clark is asked by Nick Robinson why was there no contact between Carillion and senior ministers at any time after the profit warnings, which began in July 2017.

Actually there was substantial contact between the crown commercial service who are responsible for the oversight of public sector contracts. That is the appropriate mechanism, you have senior officials monitoring these contracts. Officials report to ministers.

I think that everyone in the whole country could see the profit warnings that were issued. Many companies give profit warnings, that means they expect to make less money than they had previously forecast.

If the government on each occasion downed tools and said we could no longer do business, that would cause difficulties for many companies that were healthy and viable.

On the issue of clawing back bonuses from Carillion’s top executives, Greg Clark says the powers exist and will be used where necessary.

The Insolvency Service have very powerful sanctions available here. I wrote to the head of the service to make sure the receiver looked not just at the conduct of the current directors, but the previous ones to see if they had contributed to this collapse.

And the sanctions including the recovery of bonuses that may have been paid are very substantial and they are available to the Insolvency Service.

Greg Clark has been on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme talking about Carillion and the taskforce meeting he held on Thursday.

He says he is working closely with business organisations, trade unions, banks and the department of work and pensions to make sure everything is done to “maximise the continuity of these small businesses” that were suppliers to the collapsed Carillion.

The job of the official receiver is to wind the company up in an orderly way, to realise the assets, and to deal with creditors claims … so make an assessment of how much people will get back.

Related: Banks extend £225m lifeline to Carillion subcontractors as firms offer jobs

Shares in Carpetright have plunged in early trading after a major profits warning. They are down 48% at 85p.

Despite a positive start to our third quarter, we have seen a significant deterioration in UK trading during the important post-Christmas trading period. While average transaction values were up year on year, the number of customer transactions since Christmas was sharply down, which we believe is indicative of reduced consumer confidence.

The severity of the decline in footfall over this key trading period and our more cautious view of the outlook for the balance of the year leads to a significant reduction in our full year expectations.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

The pound is holding on to its post Brexit-vote highs against the dollar, up 0.2% this morning at $1.3917. It is on course for a fifth weekly rise against the US currency.

It’s been another decent week for the pound as it looks set to post its fifth successive weekly rise in a row against the US dollar.

A new post Brexit vote high of $1.3943 this week has raised expectations of a move through the $1.40 area in the next few days in the hope that a more convivial tone will develop between Brussels and London as the prospect of the upcoming trade talks looms on the horizon. While that remains highly optimistic, sterling short positions have continued to get squeezed hard.

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Project Davos: what’s the single best way to close the world’s wealth gap?

As political and business leaders gather for their annual summit on the global economy, we want to know what key step you think they should prioritise to tackle inequality

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel will join 2,500 world leaders, business executives and charity bosses at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland which kicks off on 23 January. High on the agenda once again will be the topic of inequality, and how to reduce the widening gap between the rich and the rest around the world.

The WEF recently warned that the global economy is at risk of another crisis, and that automation and digitalisation are likely to suppress employment and wages for most while boosting wealth at the very top.

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Europe must wake up to the drastic consequences of a hard Brexit | Joris Luyendijk

The Netherlands knows what it will lose if the UK crashes out. It is less than the price of giving Britain a sweet deal

Because it is such a riveting clown show with new crazy episodes almost every day, Europeans can be forgiven for ignoring the fact that Brexit is going to hurt them too. But as the date of Britain’s departure comes closer and Theresa May’s government continues its kamikaze policy of demanding the politically unthinkable from the EU, it is time for Europeans to wake and begin preparing for the worst.

On Thursday the Dutch government published a report drawn up by the consultancy firm KPMG analysing the consequences of a “no-deal” Brexit in which the UK leaves the EU without an agreement on 29 March 2019. Here are the practical implications and cold numbers behind the hot-headed rhetoric about no deal with the EU being “better than a bad deal” for Britain: should the UK “crash” out of the EU by late March 2019 the Dutch companies trading with the UK will have to secure a total of no less than 4.2m exporting and 750,000 importing licences. If by this time both states have a functioning customs system in place – a big if for this consistently incompetent UK government – costs for companies are between €80 and €130. That is per licence.

A hard Brexit could make every Dutch person poorer by an average of €1,000

Related: Through humility and understanding, we can still stop Brexit | Andrew Adonis

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British shoppers reined in Christmas spending, official figures show

Spending fell 1.5% in December as consumers brought forward purchases to Black Friday

British consumers sharply reined in spending over the Christmas period, as Black Friday deals encouraged them to purchase presents earlier, rounding off the weakest year for retail sales since 2013.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), spending fell back 1.5% in December after a strong November when the US-inspired discounting event appeared to boost sales. The drop was worse than expected among City economists and is likely to have dented profits for many British retailers over the key shopping month.

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