Sterling heads for worst week of the year as Brexit talks collapse

‘Another day of failed politics, another dispiriting day for British business’, says CBI

The pound is on course for its worst week in 2019 after dropping to the lowest level in four months following the collapse of the Brexit talks, as business leaders warn that failure to break the deadlock is damaging the economy.

Sterling lost about half a cent against the US dollar on Friday to slide below $1.28 on the international money markets, compounding the steepest weekly decline for the currency since October as the talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn ended in acrimony.

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Climate activists disrupt Barclays AGM in fossil fuel protest – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, as activists urge the Bank of England and Barclays to help address the climate change crisis

Here’s another video clip of the protests:

Climate change protestors interrupt ceo Jes Staley ⁦@Barclays⁩ AGM ⁦@BBCBusinesspic.twitter.com/01H0mX62IX

Related: Barclays funds climate breakdown. We are determined to make it stop | Seema Syeda

Barclays annual meeting has just been disrupted by climate activists.

They’ve interrupted CEO Jes Staley’s speech, and are calling on the bank to tell the truth about its role funding the fossil fuel industry.

A group of climate protesters have linked arms and disrupted the Barclays AGM for another year running, yelling “climate justice” and “tell the truth” pic.twitter.com/AIOz5xlKhX

Climate change protesters have infiltrated the Barclays AGM, interrupting chief executive Jes Staley’s speech on the subject. pic.twitter.com/V0l8B0CHDu

Reuters is reporting that several of the protesters outside Barclays’ AGM were “dragged away” by security staff and police.

Here’s its take:

Protesters called on Barclays to end its financing of fossil fuel projects outside the lender’s annual investor meeting in London on Thursday,where shareholders were gathering to vote on a possible boardroom revamp.

Campaigners from student activist network People & Planet waved banners reading ‘Fossil Banks-No Thanks’, days after environmental group Extinction Rebellion paralysed parts of the British capital in protests against the impact of climate change.

Back in the markets, shares in Dutch football club Ajax have hit a fresh all-time high this morning, after it put one foot in the Champion’s League final.

Ajax secured a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night — something of an escape for an injury-ravaged and generally outplayed Spurs.

Ajax shares trading at all-time highs on hopes of reaching the Champions League finals against Barcelona and then selling all their star players to the Catalan side.$AJAX +90% over the past year pic.twitter.com/9MLCCL5OBp

My colleague Kalyeena Makortoff reports that some of the protesters outside Barclays AGM have hot-footed it from the Bank of England.

Climate protesters gathered outside the Barclays AGM at Westminster this morning, some said they came straight from the Bank of England action earlier on pic.twitter.com/W7H0BZtWxB

Barclays shareholders arriving at today’s annual general meeting at the QE2 centre are being urged to press the bank to stop funding fossil fuel protests:

This is a #ClimateEmergency! @Barclays must go #FossilFree pic.twitter.com/XLJG68qBGI

The BBC’s Danielle Codd is also outside the Barclays AGM:

Small climate change protest outside ⁦@Barclays⁩ AGM as investors enter… pic.twitter.com/J6yP0qHjWt

Barclays Bank is also feeling the wrath of climate change activists.

Protesters are demonstrating outside its Annual General Meeting in London this morning, urging it to stop investing in fossil fuel projects.

.@NoFossilBanks protest at the #Barclays #AGM! #ClimateEmergency pic.twitter.com/Y9EP2Afee4

.@ShareAction has today together with investors with over $1trn assets written to @Barclays – ‘worst in Europe’ for fossil fuel financing – calling on the bank to restrict its massive financing of #tarsands and #coal #climateemergency

Fossil Free London, who co-organised the protests, argues that the Bank of England needs to set a good example to the rest of the financial world.

A spokesperson says:

“In signalling to the market that it is willing to invest in fossil fuels, the Bank is setting an example for other banks and investors to do the same. In giving its stamp of approval, the Bank of England is legitimising climate criminals.

“We are therefore demanding that the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee blacklist bonds from fossil fuel companies, and we call on them to instead buy assets in fossil free sectors, such as renewable energy.”

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, is urging the Bank of England to use its powers to help fight the climate crisis.

Speaking at this morning’s protests, she says:

“As regulator of our financial system, the central bank has the power to stamp out risky fossil fuel lending, using the same macroprudential tools it has used to clamp down on irresponsible mortgage lending since the financial crisis.”

“In choosing not to use these powers at its disposal, it is complicit in the climate crisis.”

Brilliant protest #GreenTheBoE #ClimateEmergencyNOW with @PositiveMoneyUK @FossilFree_UK we need more action now pic.twitter.com/JysMbtliym

Today’s protests at the Bank of England come as the government’s official advisers argues that the UK must set a legally binding target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

The Committee on Climate Change says tough,and pricy action is needed. Moving to a low-carbon economy will cost tens of billions of pounds of investment every year, to drive the move to clean energy production.

Related: ‘Do it now’: UK must set zero-carbon target for 2050, say official advisers

Climate Change Committee declare UK must have a zero carbon target – but bad news is they suggest by 2050.

Britain must adopt a 2030 zero-carbon target – giving us 10 years to enact win-win solutions reducing carbon, saving money and make Britain a better, cleaner place to live. pic.twitter.com/4apVwVvmck

Back outside the Bank of England….

Jessie from Fossil Free London is demanding the @bankofengland and mark carney put their money where their mouth is and get out of fossil fuels.

We need more than strong worlds. We need action. We need to #GreenTheBoE pic.twitter.com/uc9E6E9jz5

Another economic newsflash: the UK construction sector has returned to growth, but still looks weak.

Housebuilding activity rose in April, according to data firm Markit, lifting the Construction PMI index up to 50.5 from 49.7 (anything over 50 shows growth).

On the economic front, eurozone factories have suffered their third contraction in a row, as the US-China trade war, Brexit and weak global growth all bite.

Eurozone manufacturing PMI of 47.9 in April, basically unchanged from the flash estimate. Germany & Italy both with sub-50 readings, with France bang on 50. Rough indicator of official stats. Markit citing protectionism, auto sector issues & Brexit as influences. pic.twitter.com/UChtWzjTQ5

A petition has been set up to urge the Bank of England to raise its game on climate change.

It calls on Britain’s central bank to:

Capital markets have huge potential to halt climate breakdown. The Bank of England has the power to unleash green investment on a massive scale. Sign the petition (https://t.co/gZ8rFRvfyr) and join @PositiveMoneyUK & @FossilFreeLondon on Thursday to #GreenTheBoE

The long-running Brexit crisis may distract the Bank of England from the climate change emergency.

Associate Press points out that the BoE’s new forecasts, due at noon, will be closely scrutinised.

The Bank of England is set to provide its first forecasts of what Britain’s Brexit delay will mean for the British economy.

The central bank is due Thursday to keep its main interest rate on hold at 0.75 percent following the latest meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee.

Here’s another video clip from outside the Bank:

“Bank of England, can’t you see, money must go #FossilFree!” #ChangeFinance pic.twitter.com/OkTev5a39S

The Bank of England argues that it does take the climate change threat seriously already.

It has created a Climate Financial Risk Forum, in which the biggest companies in the City meet to discuss the financial risk presented by the issue.

The catastrophic effects of climate change are already visible around the world. From blistering heatwaves in North America to typhoons in south-east Asia and droughts in Africa and Australia, no country or community is immune. These events damage infrastructure and private property, negatively affect health, decrease productivity and destroy wealth.

And they are extremely costly: insured losses have risen five-fold in the past three decades. The enormous human and financial costs of climate change are having a devastating effect on our collective wellbeing.

We’ve got a clear message for the @bankofengland and Mark Carney. It’s time stop funding climate breakdown and starting funding a green transitions. This is an emergency. Time to act like it.@peopleandplanet @FossilFree_UK @ukycc @Strike4Youth @ExtinctionR pic.twitter.com/8OPmfGh5WO

This video clip shows an activist chanting “This is an emergency… Bank of England go fossil free”.

#GreenTheBoE now! https://t.co/PULsbeyMNi

The protests are underway outside the Bank of England, as activists hammer home their message at Bank staff, and commuters passing by.

[If you’re not familiar with London, the BoE is next to Bank Station, in the heart of the City of London]

We’re outside the Bank of England demanding Mark Carney put his mouth where his mouth is & #GreenTheBoE now! pic.twitter.com/AAhQqQo6HK

Mark Carney go fossil free! Get carbon out of the BoE! @divestlondon @ExtinctionR @Strike4Youth #GreenTheBoE now! pic.twitter.com/nFTIND8UH9

Digging fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them is obviously bad for the environment, pumping up carbon emissions, adding to global warming and undermining the Paris Agreement targets.

Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is backing the protesters:

Right now, big finance is driving climate breakdown. The Bank of England has a key role to play in tackling climate change.The debate has started on how to use the power of the bank to unleash green investment. Join @PositiveMoneyUK & @FossilFreeLondon on Thursday to #GreenTheBoE

The climate change protesters should have a spring in their steps as they head to the Bank this morning.

Last night, the UK parliament approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. This move follows the Extinction Rebellion protests in London this month, and the school strikes organised by pupils.

“We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.”

Related: MPs endorse Corbyn’s call to declare climate emergency

Activism works.
So act.

The Bank of England needs to blacklist high-carbon bonds and commit its huge buying power to ‘green QE’, writes Simon Youel of Positive Money.

In a Guardian column today, he explains:

In the three years since the Paris climate agreement, as the government has spoken (often empty words) about doing its part in lowering emissions, our financial sector has been pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into fossil-fuel projects, unleashing environmental havoc across the planet.

In its role as the regulator of the financial system, the Bank of England has the power to stamp out irresponsible fossil fuel lending – using the same tools it has used to clamp down on risky mortgage lending since the financial crisis. In choosing not to use these powers, it is complicit in the climate crisis.

Related: Why I will be protesting against Mark Carney on Thursday | Simon Youel

Today’s protests at Bank are organised by two campaign groups – Positive Money and Fossil Free London.

They want the Bank to take two specific steps to address the climate.

At the very least ruling out asset purchases in high-carbon sectors, if not actively favouring bonds which finance green projects.

The Bank of England should use all of the powers at its disposal to stop financial firms it regulates pouring more money into fossil fuels, while encouraging greater lending towards more sustainable ends. This approach, known as ‘credit guidance’, could include tools such as differential collateral requirements and targeted refinancing operations.

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

Tomorrow morning we and @divestlondon will be outside the Bank of England calling for greater action against banks pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into fossil fuels.

To #TellTheTruth, we’re facing a #ClimateEmergency, and it’s time to #GreenTheBoEhttps://t.co/T8wY5ESZQd pic.twitter.com/yDA5mlCcqn

Related: Mark Carney tells global banks they cannot ignore climate change dangers

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Markets grind higher after Wall Street’s record close – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news

European stock markets have begun the new week cautiously, led by a bounce in Italy.

Italian bank shares have jumped 1%, after S&P affirmed Italy’s BBB credit rating on Friday night.

#Italy 10y risk spread over Germany plunges to in relief rally after S&P affirms Italy rating at BBB, 2 notches above junk, after mkts closed on Friday. The agency maintained outlook negative. pic.twitter.com/pM92QFiT3o

China’s factories have bolstered confidence in the markets today, by reporting a pick-up in earnings.

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

Related: US economic growth stronger than expected despite weak demand

For stock traders, it seems that the important catalysts are pointing higher: the US sees strong domestic growth, low inflation keeps the Fed at bay and could potentially trigger a rate cut so it seems that equities have nowhere to go but higher – at least in the short term.

Truth be told, we think that investors should employ a more cautious approach, with the US markets near record highs and 10-year yields dropping below 2.5%, suggesting that a selloff may be around the corner. In any case, market participants don’t seem to share our skepticism and equity futures in Europe and the US are pointing towards a positive opening bell.

Related: Spanish election: socialists win amid far-right gains

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Markets await US GDP report, as Daimler hit by auto slowdown – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, including first-quarter growth figures from America

Newsflash: The number of new mortgages approved in the UK has hit a nine-month high.

UK Finance, which represents British lenders, reports that 39,980 loans for house purchases were approved in March.

#UnitedKingdom UK Finance Mortgage Approvals at 39.980K https://t.co/8XGCSGaZNz pic.twitter.com/8ooBETDHPm

Disappointing factory output data from Japan overnight is fuelling concerns over the global economy.

Industrial production fell by 4.6% year-on-year in March, the steepest decline since May 2015 (and the second monthly fall in a row).

Japan Industrial production -4.6 YoY (expected -3.8%) fastest drop since May 2015. MoM -0.9% (expected 0.00%)
Another bad news for Asia Export and domestic economies pic.twitter.com/a2avoZcgHE

Japan’s stocks look pressured by a weaker USD and some poor data where industrial production dropped at the fastest pace since 2015.

Daimler isn’t the only carmaker struggling right now — Volvo and PSA have also posted falling profits in the last quarter.

Here’s the FT’s take:

Daimler has reported a slump in first quarter earnings, as the German company joins other global carmakers plagued by falling sales in China and flat markets in the Europe and the US.

The Stuttgart-based parent of Mercedes-Benz said earnings before interest and tax fell 16 per cent to €2.8bn from €3.3bn a year earlier. The result was ahead of an analyst forecast, provided by Refinitiv, of €2.6bn.

RBS and Just Eat have helped to pull the FTSE 100 down this morning.

The blue-chip index has shed 18 points, or 0.25%, in a fairly subdued session so far.

Online takeaway firm Just Eat is also propping up the FTSE fallers this morning, after reporting slower growth in the UK.

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland have fallen over 5% at the start of trading, after warning that Brexit uncertainty is hurting demand.

Despite beating forecasts this morning with profits of £707m in the last quarter (down from £808m) RBS is the worst-performing FTSE 100 stock, down 11.3p at 238.5p.

While we retain the outlook guidance we provided in the 2018 Annual Results document, we recognise that the ongoing impact of Brexit uncertainty on the economy, and associated delay in business borrowing decisions, is likely to make income growth more challenging in the near term.

RBS first-quarter income falls less than expected Bank says Brexit uncertainty will weigh on revenue in coming months

German carmaker Daimler has joined the ranks of auto firms suffering from weak demand in China, and a lacklustre global economy.

“Achieving the financial targets for 2019 has not become easier since the first quarter.

“We now have to work hard to achieve our targets for 2019.

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

Related: Microsoft becomes third listed US firm to be valued at $1tn

Related: Amazon makes $1bn a month as growth slows

RBS earnings: £707 million for Q1 net profit, vs £792 million last year https://t.co/rwX57UIKFW

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How has Brexit vote affected the UK economy? March verdict

Each month we look at key indicators to see what effect the Brexit process has on growth, prosperity and trade

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German consumers and French factory bosses become gloomier – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, including a worrying drop in consumer confidence in Europe’s largest economy

Newsflash: UK mortgage approvals have fallen to their lowest level in almost six years.

Just 35,299 new loans for houser purchases were agreed in February, according to new figures from industry body UK Finance.

High end TV and stereo maker Bang & Olufsen is also under the cosh today.

Shares in the luxury Danish consumer electronics maker have plunged by over 20% this morning, after it issued its second sale warning this year.

Troubles at Danish luxury stereo and TV maker Bang & Olufsen @Reuters https://t.co/ynwNWj3HlC

Another profits warning! This time from Ferguson, the FTSE 100 plumbing and heating equipment supplier.

Ferguson has warned shareholders that market conditions have deteriorated recently, hitting earnings, so profits will be at the lower end of expectations.

Online grocery chain Ocado is bucking the gloom.

With little good news this morning, it’s no surprise that European stock markets are flat in early trading.

The UK’s FTSE 100, the German DAX and the French CAC are all becalmed are investors ponder the health of the eurozone economy.

South Korean tech firm Samsung has stunned traders overnight with a surprise profit warning, due to a slide in memory chip prices.

“The company expects the scope of price declines in main memory chip products to be larger than expected.”

 Samsung Profit Warning Is Tech’s Inverted Yield Curve – Bloomberg
*A downturn sparked by excess inventories and weakened demand, signs of which were evident back in August, could drag on longer than expected.
*Link: https://t.co/hIzajrOcps pic.twitter.com/IdJphycdPq

Not only Germany. Business morale falls also in France, as the Business Survey fell in March to 102 from previous 103 and less than expected 103, the lowest since Nov 2016. With these data, the probability of a rebound of Eurozone economy in 1Q decreases a lot @graemewearden

More eurozone gloom! French industrial confidence has fallen to its lowest level in almost two and a half years.

Business confidence plunged in December after a series of protests over the high cost of living turned violent, sparking some of the worst rioting and vandalism in decades during the peak pre-holiday shopping season.

While confidence in the dominant service sector was stable in March, it rebounded in the wholesale industry and was unchanged in retail.

This drop in German consumer confidence is particularly disappointing, as we learned yesterday that business leaders were more optimistic.

Here’s some early reaction:

German consumer confidence takes a (small) hit on the back of lower growth expectations and ‘willingness to buy’. The latter still healthy but down to a 27-month low. pic.twitter.com/Dy0wruCXuO

Oops! GfK German Consumer Confidence unexpectedly drops to 10.4 in Apr vs 10.8 expected despite record low unemployment rate and decent wage growth. BUT still at elevated levels. pic.twitter.com/onl46IhvJX

Newsflash: German consumer confidence has taken a knock, adding to concerns that the eurozone economy is struggling.

Whilst consumers are certainly not assuming that Germany will fall into recession this year, they do see a noticeable cooling off of economic activity.

The lack of decisiveness regarding the nature and date of the UK’s exit from the EU, as well as the growing trade conflict between the EU and USA are clearly creating ever more uncertainty among consumers. Barriers to trade, such as increases in customs duties, are currently creating a burden for German exports.

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

Global stock markets continue to be gripped by anxiety that we could be heading towards a recession.

European Opening Calls From IG:#FTSE 7193 +0.22%#DAX 11371 +0.21%#CAC 5269 +0.15%#MIB 21096 +0.17%#IBEX 9181 +0.01%

Investors are aware the US economy is in rude health, and growth is tipped to cool in 2019, but at the same time they don’t want to ignore the moves in yield curve inversion as it been a reliable recession indicator.

Investors in equities and credit should rightly be worried. UST yield curve, as measured by the difference b/w a 3m bill and 10y UST, has turned neg, or inverted, for the 1st time since 2007, chart @michaellachlan @FT https://t.co/DXSd1oKF9X pic.twitter.com/q15m5oJIpV

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Stronger pound reflects City’s relief at receding no-deal Brexit | Phillip Inman

Traders still have doubts about the PM getting her deal away despite chance of extra time

The pound jumped to a fresh 10-month high on Wednesday after it became obvious that Britain will avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal. Obvious, that is, to City traders, who have always bet that a deal is the most likely outcome of the Brexit talks and now believe it to be a racing certainty.

Theresa May’s concession of a vote in a fortnight to delay Brexit, which she agreed as a way to keep her own deal in play, was the trigger for a Mexican wave across the City.

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UK GDP growth report to show economy slowing ahead of Brexit – business live

Rolling coverage of the latest UK growth figures, released at 9.30am

The pound is coming under a little pressure this morning, dipping by a third of a cent against the US dollar to $1.291.

That suggests traders expect an underwhelming GDP report this morning – weak growth lowers the chances of an early interest rate rise.

Related: Brexit: May has ruled out Corbyn’s customs union plan – minister

Latest UK GDP growth figures out today. Consensus is that the economy grew by 0.3%q/q (1.4%y/y) in the final quarter of 2018. Expect a lot of focus on economic uncertainty. Frequency of news mentions is as high as it was at the time of the 2017 General Election. pic.twitter.com/6oD6TBvSUB

Today’s growth report is expected show that businesses reined in their spending, as they nervously watch the Brexit negotiations play out.

Paul Donovan of UBS Wealth Management suspects consumers will be less perturbed (plus, any Brexit panic stockpiling will boost GDP):

The UK is doing a data dump – production, trade and GDP numbers are all due. The economy may have slowed slightly in the fourth quarter. Overall consumers are resilient in the face of political nonsense, by taking the sensible approach of not caring.

Companies are, however, inclined to delay investment.

We already know that growth in 2018 was choppy — bad wintery weather got the year off to a bad start, before a blissful summer (and some sparking football results) cheered spirits.

After the strength seen in the middle of last year the UK economy softened somewhat heading into the final quarter. A lot of the strength seen in Q2 and Q3 was a consequence of a weak Q1 as a result of the so called “Beast from the East” which paralysed most of the country into March.

The resultant rebound was as much to do with that as a Royal Wedding, a hot summer, and a decent summer of sport culminating in a decent Football World Cup run for England.

How bad could the slowdown be?

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, fears the UK economy might only have expanded by 0.2% in the last quarter…

#UK Q4 2018 #GDP data (first estimate) out today at 9:30am – latest #ChamberQES suggests that UK GDP growth slowed sharply to around 0.2%-0.3% in Q4, from growth of 0.6% in Q3 2018: https://t.co/XsIM1wlTFK pic.twitter.com/dsKWzLNh90

Good morning.

Gross Domestic Product isn’t a perfect measure. And that’s no wonder — how can a single number sum up everything, good and bad, that happens in an economy?

“Putting the pieces together, we are forecasting GDP to have remained unchanged in December, although it is possible that we see a very small gain,” he said. “This results in a 0.3% rise [for the fourth quarter].

“We will look closely at business investment – the area which we consider to be the most affected by Brexit worries – and specifically to see if it recorded its fourth consecutive quarterly decline in the fourth quarter.”

Related: UK economic growth expected to halve in final quarter of 2018

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