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Interest rates forecast to jump to 3.75pc by end of year

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 20/09/2022 Szu Ping Chan, James Warrington, Melissa Lawford, Giulia Bottaro
Bank of England MPC interest rates inflation economy recession - REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska//File Photo © REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska//File Photo Bank of England MPC interest rates inflation economy recession - REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska//File Photo

​Investors are betting that interest rates will hit 3.75pc by the end of the year as the Bank of England battles to contain inflation.

The Bank is now expected to increase rates by 0.75 percentage points on Thursday, taking them to 2.5pc in the biggest increase since Black Wednesday in 1992, when the government increased borrowing costs by two percentage points in a doomed attempt to avoid a collapse in sterling.

Traders are also pricing in 2 percentage points of rises over the next three meetings, implying that rates will jump from the current rate of 1.75pc to 3.75pc, their highest level since 2008.

Economists said the Bank had to act to control inflation, which stood at 9.9pc in August and is expected to climb back above double-digits this Autumn.

Sam Lynton Brown, of BNP Paribas, said: "We find arguments for a 75bp rate hike compelling."

He added that Liz Truss's plan to slash taxes and cap energy bills meant the Bank was more likely to retain its hawkish guidance" and kee rates higher for longer.

Mr Lynton Brown said: "The energy price cap introduces potentially-unlimited fiscal liabilities at the same time as tax cuts reduce government income.

"If nothing else, the new Prime Minister is delivering on her intention of 'challenging the Treasury orthodoxy'."

The prediction comes as the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve step up the pace of their own rate rises in a bid to control surging inflation, even as several economies are expected to be plunged into recession.

Smaller central banks have also raised interest rates in a bid to control price rises, with the Philippines, South Africa and Switzerland also expected to increase borrowing costs over the next few days.

Sweden’s Riksbank Tuesday unexpectedly increased rates by one percentage point on Tuesday, its most aggressive tightening in almost three decades of inflation targeting.

Big rate rises are expected to add £2,200 to the average mortgage bill over two years compared with people who took out deals last month. Assuming a 0.75 point rise is passed on directly to mortgage rates, the average rate on a two-year fixed-mortgage will rise from 3.92pc in August to 4.67pc.

This means a buyer purchasing an average home in London would face a monthly mortgage bill of £2,240 – £169 more than if they had got a mortgage offer in August, according to analysis by Hamptons estate agents.

Over the course of a two-year deal, this means they would have to pay an extra £4,056. Compared to if they had bought before interest rates started rising in December 2021, the extra cost would be £14,304.

The average UK buyer would pay an extra £2,208 over two years, compared to if they got their offer in August, and an extra £7,800 compared to December 2021.

If the Bank Rate hits 3.75pc by the end of this year, the monthly mortgage bill on an average £543,520 London property will be £2,537 – a 54pc jump compared to if they had purchased in December.

Over the duration of a two-year fix, they would spend an extra £21,432 compared to if they had locked in a mortgage deal a year earlier – and traders expect rates will continue to rise even higher.

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06:18 PM

Wrapping up

That's all from us today, thank you for reading! Before you go, check out the latest stories from our reporters:

06:17 PM

YouTube ups competition with TikTok with new monetisation plan for creators

YouTube has unveiled a new way for creators to make money on short-form video, as it faces intensifying competition from TikTok.

The Google-owned streaming service plans to introduce advertising on its video feature Shorts and give creators 45pc of the revenue. That compares with its standard distribution of 55pc for videos outside of Shorts, and TikTok's $1bn (£880m) fund for paying creators.

"We want YouTube to be the place that gives (creators) the greatest support within the changing digital landscape," said YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan.

05:52 PM

British millionaire numbers surge above France and Germany 

The number of millionaires in Britain surged ahead of those in France and Germany last year as a property boom and rebounding stock markets sent wealth levels surging. Tim Wallace writes:

The UK is host to 2.85m people with a net wealth of more than $1m (£877,000), according to Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report, putting the country behind only US, China and Japan.

That is up by 266,000 people compared with 2020, and reflects rapid growth in stock markets which took a battering in the pandemic and so had more room to “catch up” last year, pushing up wealth in the UK more quickly than that in some similar countries.

Read more here

05:32 PM

FTSE 100 falls to two-week low

The FTSE 100 has slipped to a fresh two-week low as concerns over major interest rate hikes weighed on trading sentiment.

The threat of surging interest rates particularly weighed on housebuilders, with Persimmon and Barratt tumbling, amid concerns the increases will hit mortgage demand.

London's top index ended the day down 0.6pc at 7,192.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: "European markets initially started the day in positive territory, however the gains soon disappeared in the wake of a supersized rate hike from the Swedish Riksbank of 100 basis points, pushing their headline rate up to 1.75pc.

"The size of the hike has shifted the focus back to tomorrow's Fed rate decision and the possibility that the US central bank might do something similarly aggressive."

05:09 PM

Russia aluminium giant weighs selling directly on London Metal Exchange 

United Co Rusal International is working on a plan to deliver some aluminium directly to London Metal Exchange warehouses in Asia, as the Russian company struggles to find buyers.

Rusal isn’t under Western sanctions but it’s nonetheless being hit as some big consumers in Europe and the US refuse to keep buying its metal. At the same time, domestic demand is slumping with the Russian economy in recession.

What Rusal will do with its excess production is one of the hottest topics of discussion among metal traders, with some fearing that large deliveries to the exchange could cause LME prices to diverge from the global aluminium market. 

Rusal has discussed shipping some aluminum from Russia’s far eastern port of Vladivostok to LME warehouses in Asia,  Bloomberg reported.

04:55 PM

August clocks in record insolvencies for 2022

August has seen the highest number of insolvencies this year as nearly 100 companies went into administration amid worsening financial pressures.

Businesses have been grappling with higher costs and steeper energy bills in recent months, worsened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began in February.

New analysis showed that 99 companies went into administration in August, a 41pc increase compared with the same month last year.

It brings the total number of companies going bust to 522 since the beginning of the year, according to analysis by global risk and financial advisory company Kroll.

The construction sector has seen the highest number of insolvencies this year, with 87 companies handing over the reins to an administrator.

04:30 PM

New Transport Secretary to meet union bosses in olive branch after months of rail strikes 

Liz Truss’s new Transport Secretary has begun peace talks with rail union chiefs in the hope of breaking the deadlock following months of industrial unrest. 

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is understood to have met with Mick Whelan, the general secretary of drivers union Aslef, last Wednesday. Sources said that she will hold talks with Manuel Cortes of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) later this month.

Read Oliver Gill's exclusive story here

04:04 PM

Handing over

That's all from me today – thanks for following! Giulia Bottaro will take things from here.

04:03 PM

Truss: Energy package will help whole economy

Liz Truss has said an unprecedented package of support for households and businesses facing rising energy bills will help the economy overall, mitigating its high cost.

The Prime Minister said that the cost of the energy support would be laid out in more detail, with an emergency Budget scheduled for Friday.

She told Sky News: "The cost is mitigated, first of all by the overall benefits to the economy, but also the fact that we are now investing in the long term supply."

03:53 PM

Elon Musk to be grilled in Twitter court case

Elon Musk Twitter court - APFootage / Alamy Stock Photo © APFootage / Alamy Stock Photo Elon Musk Twitter court - APFootage / Alamy Stock Photo

Elon Musk will be grilled by Twitter's lawyers next week as part of a court battle over his failed $44bn takeover of the social media company.

The deposition, which will take place behind closed doors, will take place on September 26 and 27. It could be extended into a third day if needed.

Mr Musk's lawyer, Alex Spiro, will have to sit for his own deposition on September 25, according to court filings.

The world's richest person backed away from his planned purchase of Twitter earlier this year, claiming the company hadn't been honest about the number of spam and bot accounts on its platform.

Twitter has described the concerns as a pretext to get out of the deal after the Tesla billionaire began to experience buyer's remorse.

03:40 PM

Germany to nationalise Uniper with €8bn cash injection

Germany Uniper nationalisation - REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo © REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo Germany Uniper nationalisation - REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

Germany is planning to inject about €8bn (£7bn) into Uniper as part of an historic agreement to nationalise the energy firm.

Uniper confirmed it's in final discussions with Olaf Scholz's Government over a package that will include an €8bn capital increase. Berlin will also buy the shares of main investor Fortum.

Uniper, which is Germany's biggest buyer of Russian gas, is at the heart of the crisis sparked by Putin's gas cuts.

The Government has been under pressure to intervene amid concerns the collapse of the company could have a wider impact on Europe's largest economy.

03:24 PM

When are the next train strikes?

Rail unions are staging a series of train strikes targeting the Conservative Party Conference in October.

Union leaders have called off a truce with company bosses after cancelling industrial action during the period of national mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here's everything you need to know about the latest wave of strike action, courtesy of my colleague Oliver Gill.

October train strikes: latest information and which operators are affected

03:10 PM

MPs urge Kwarteng to give forecasts alongside Budget

Kwasi Kwarteng Budget forecasts OBR - REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo © REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo Kwasi Kwarteng Budget forecasts OBR - REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

MPs have urged Kwasi Kwarteng to guarantee that Friday's emergency Budget will be audited by the fiscal watchdog.

Reports this morning suggested the Chancellor will unveil a series of tax cuts without the usual costings by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

But Mel Stride, chairman of the influential Treasury Committee, said he wanted “assurance that if this announcement involves any major changes to the rate of existing taxes or the introduction of new taxes, it will be in a fiscal event accompanied by an OBR forecast”.

Mr Kwarteng is expected to unveil the cost of the Government’s emergency energy bill support alongside £30bn worth of cuts to payroll and corporation tax, as part of plans to drive growth.

02:49 PM

Gupta's main auditor resigned on lack of fraud probe information

Sanjeev Gupta's main UK auditor has said it resigned because of insufficient information and evidences relating to a probe into alleged fraud.

King & King, a small London-based accountant, resigned as an auditor for several of the metals tycoon's companies.

In filings published on Companies House, he cited a lack of information provided on an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, and also said there wasn't sufficient detail regarding the ability to fund operations for the next year or the recoverability of related party balances.

Mr Gupta's companies are the target of a huge cross-border investigation into alleged fraud and money laundering.

The probe was launched after the collapse of Greensill Capital – GFG's main lender – and has left the tycoon struggling to secure fresh financing.

02:36 PM

Wall Street falls ahead of Fed decision

Wall Street's main indices have started the day in the red as traders brace for the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates to levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones both fell 0.8pc, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 0.9pc.

02:22 PM

Jacob Rees-Mogg faces High Court showdown with 11 striking unions

Jacob Rees-Mogg strike Unite rail - Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg © Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg Jacob Rees-Mogg strike Unite rail - Anthony Devlin/Bloomberg

In other summer of discontent news, Jacob Rees-Mogg is facing a High Court showdown with trade union chiefs over plans to reduce the impact of strike action.

Oliver Gill reports:

Ministers plan to water-down industrial laws to allow agency workers to fill the roles of striking workers after businesses were hit by a “summer of discontent” amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Unite, GMB and the RMT are among 11 trade unions that have launched a Judicial Review claiming the new laws would undermine their right to go on strike.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said: “The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty. But the Government is attacking it in broad daylight.

"Threatening this right tilts the balance of power too far towards employers. It means workers can't stand up for decent services and safety at work – or defend their jobs and pay.

“Ministers failed to consult with unions, as the law requires. And restricting the freedom to strike is a breach of international law.”

Read Ollie's full story here

02:03 PM

Rail workers announce fresh wave of strikes

The UK's summer of discontent is stretching into autumn, with rail workers announcing another wave of strikes in October.

The RMT union said staff at Network Rail and 14 train companies will walk out on October 1 in a row over job security, pay and working conditions.

The RMT warned the 24-hour industrial action, will bring the railway network to an effective standstill.

In separate disputes, Arriva Rail London members, Hull Trains and bus workers at First Group Southwest will also take strike action on October 1.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said:

Transport workers are joining a wave of strike action on October 1, sending a clear message to the government and employers that working people will not accept continued attacks on pay and working conditions at a time when big business profits are at an all-time high. 

The summer of solidarity we have seen will continue into the autumn and winter if employers and the government continue to refuse workers reasonable demands.

01:58 PM

Chart: Markets ramp up interest rate bets

Here's a chart from our production team showing what markets think the trajectory for interest rate rises will be.

01:18 PM

Truss: I'm prepared to take unpopular decisions

Prime Minister Liz Truss -  UK PARLIAMENT/JESSICA TAYLOR © UK PARLIAMENT/JESSICA TAYLOR Prime Minister Liz Truss -  UK PARLIAMENT/JESSICA TAYLOR

Liz Truss has signalled she's ready to take unpopular decisions to boost economic growth.

"Not every measure will be popular," the Prime Minister told reporters en route to New York. "There are always vested interests, people who oppose measures that increase economic growth."

The comments came ahead of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's so-called fiscal event later this week, where he's expected to set out the Government's new fiscal policies.

That includes plans to scrap a cap on bankers' bonuses in an effort to make the City of London more attractive.

01:07 PM

Germany closes in on €30bn Uniper nationalisation

Germany is said to be close to finalising a deal to nationalise struggling utility Uniper as the country tries to avert a collapse of its energy market.

Berlin has reached a provisional agreement with Uniper and its Finnish parent company Fortum, according to multiple reports.

The deal, which is likely to see the German state take a larger stake in the company, could cost more than €30bn (£26bn), Business Insider reports.

12:51 PM

Moonpig shares drop as it refocuses on cards

Shares in Moonpig have fallen sharply after the company said it would prioritise sales of greetings cards amid a looming economic downturn.

The online retailer has moved into sales of add-on products such as chocolates and other small gifts as a way of growing its traditional business.

But the company today said: "In the current economic environment, we have prioritised greeting card sales, which have a demonstrable track record of being resilient across the cycle, and we intend to continue this focus for the remainder of the 2023 financial year."

Shares dropped 10pc as investors baulked at the plans.

12:33 PM

Blackstone sells Butlins back to former owner

Butlin's Blackstone Harris family - Hulton Archive/Getty Images © Hulton Archive/Getty Images Butlin's Blackstone Harris family - Hulton Archive/Getty Images

US private equity giant Blackstone has agreed to sell holiday resorts group Butlins back to former owner the Harris family.

Butlins, which was founded by Billy Butlin in 1936, is being reacquired for about £300m, Bloomberg reports.

It comes after the Harris family and partners sold a controlling stake in Butlins' parent company Bourne Leisure to Blackstone in a deal worth about £3bn. The families stayed on as minority shareholders.

As well as Butlins, which has three sites, Bourne owns the Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels brands.

Earlier this year, Blackstone sold the real estate assets of the three Butlins sites to pension managed Universities Superannuation Scheme for about £300m.

12:17 PM

No 10: US trade deal not immediate priority

The UK isn't immediately prioritising talks on a free trade deal with the US, Downing Street has said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting between Liz Truss and Joe Biden, the Prime Minister's spokesman said:

We're not prioritising negotiating a free trade deal with the U.S. in the short to medium term. However, the United States is already our largest trade partner and we're continuing to grow our economic relationship.

12:09 PM

US futures fall as focus turns to Fed

US futures fell this morning as investors fear up for another large interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve later this week.

The central bank is widely expected to unveil a third straight 75 basis-point increase in interest rates tomorrow, with markets also pricing in a small change of a 100 basis-point rise.

Focus will also be on the updated economic projections and dot plot estimates for cues on policy makers' outlooks for future rate rises, as well as unemployment, inflation, and economic growth.

Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Dow Jones rose 0.5pc, while the Nasdaq was up 0.6pc.

12:01 PM

Barclays to outline final costs from paperwork blunder

Barclays has said it will detail soon the final costs of its programme to buy back securities it mistakenly issued.

C.S. Venkatakrishnan, Barclays chief executive, said: "We hope to provide the final estimates in very short order."

He added that the bank was in "very advanced discussions" with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the error.

Barclays estimated the loss at £751m back in July, included a £165m provision for an expected SEC fine.

The bank concluded a so-called rescission offer last week, which it was required to carry out after accidentally issuing billions of dollars more structure and exchange-traded notes than it had registered with the regulator.

11:46 AM

German industry suffers worst shock since 1949 

German factories suffered their biggest price shock since records began last month, as the throttling of gas supplies from Russia led energy bills to more than double.

Tim Wallace has more:

Prices of industrial products jumped by almost 46pc over the past year, according to the Federal Statistical Office, which is the biggest ever increase on records dating back to 1949 when Germany was divided and recovering from the Second World War.

Energy bills reported by businesses surged by 139pc on the year, and increased by more than one-fifth between July and August alone.

Electricity prices almost tripled, jumping by 175pc, with redistributors reporting a leap of almost 280pc in the prices they face.

Natural gas distribution prices more than tripled, rising 209pc on the year.

The surge came as Russia choked off energy supplies to Germany. Flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline were reduced in July before being shut indefinitely at the end of August, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying gas trade would restart if sanctions were lifted.

​Read Tim's full story here

11:30 AM

Fuller's fears energy bills will more than double

Fuller's brewery pub energy bills - Fuller's  © Fuller's Fuller's brewery pub energy bills - Fuller's 

Brewery and pub chain Fuller's is worried its energy bills could more than double this year in the latest sign of how the crisis is threatening businesses.

The London-based group warned bills could jump to £18m – from £8m last year.

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller's, said: “Businesses across the hospitality sector are experiencing unsustainable increases in energy costs.

“We will see significant increases this year and do urge the Government to provide much needed clarity on its proposed support package so that we can plan accordingly.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to announce more details about energy bills support alongside a mini Budget this week.

11:15 AM

FirstGroup sells remaining Greyhound property for $140m

FirstGroup Greyhound - REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo © REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo FirstGroup Greyhound - REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

Transport giant FirstGroup has sold "almost all" of its Greyhound property portfolio to Twenty Lake Holdings for around $140m (£123m).

The London-listed company, which operates rail networks including GWR and Avanti, announced it was selling off the iconic US bus brand almost a year ago in an effort to focus on its UK operations.

The latest sale, which involves depots and terminals, means FirstGroup's exit from Greyhound will be substantially complete, with around $90m of profits expected to be booked in the current financial year.

11:01 AM

Pound languishes near 37-year low

Sterling is little changed this morning, languishing near its lowest level since 1985 ahead of expected interest rate rises by the Federal Reserve and Bank of England.

Markets are full pricing in a 50 basis-point increase in rates by the Bank this week, with around a 75pc change of a larger 75 basis-point rise.

Traders are also looking ahead to Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget on Friday, where the Chancellor is expected to deliver more details about the Government's energy support package.

The pound was little changed against the dollar at $1.1432, just above last week's 37-year low. Against the euro, it ticked up 0.1pc to 87.57p.

10:51 AM

Future shares drop as boss steps down

Shares in magazine publisher Future plunged this morning after chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne said she's planning to step down.

Ms Byng-Thorne, who's led the company since 2014, has told the board she would like to step down by the end of 2023.

Shares in Future, which owns titles including The Week and Country Life, dropped 15pc.

10:33 AM

Tui says UK holiday bookings "well above" pre-Covid levels

Tui - REUTERS/Peter Nicholls © REUTERS/Peter Nicholls Tui - REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Holiday giant Tui Group says bookings are bouncing back following the Covid crisis and disruption at airports

In a trading update, the group said it has seen UK bookings "well above" pre-pandemic levels so far in the fourth quarter, which covers July, August and September

Demand had also exceeded this threshold in Germany and the Netherlands "in recent weeks".

Tui has made 12.9 million bookings this summer overall, up by 1.4 million since the company's third quarter update in August, which represented 91pc of pre-pandemic levels across the whole business. 

During the key departure months of July and August, bookings reached 94pc of pre-pandemic levels.

"This is encouraging and shows the current importance of holidays and travel experiences in the post-Corona era," said Fritz Joussen, the company's chief executive.

09:47 AM

A big week for PM Liz Truss and the new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng

truss kwarteng - Leon Neal/Getty Images © Leon Neal/Getty Images truss kwarteng - Leon Neal/Getty Images

Following the period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, the UK Government is springing back into action.

And it is shaping up to be a big week for new PM Liz Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, as well as businesses across the country.

The two biggest items on the agenda are Thursday's announcement on interest rates by the Bank of England and Friday's so-called mini-budget.

On Thursday, the Bank is expected to raise interest rates to fight inflation.

But a day later, Mr Kwarteng is expected to move in an opposing direction with a package tax cuts could stoke prices.

That will come in a statement, or mini budget, when he is expected to scrap an increase in national insurance contributions and freeze corporation tax.

09:32 AM

Hong Kong CEO wants "orderly" reopening

hong kong - REUTERS/Tyrone Siu © REUTERS/Tyrone Siu hong kong - REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong's chief executive says he wants an "orderly" reopening as draconian Covid rules continue to cripple the city's economy.

John Lee said he was conscious that the financial centre needed to retain its competitiveness, adding that authorities were keen to bring back events and activities to the city.

Taking cues from China's "zero Covid" strategy, arrivals in Hong Kong are still forced to quarantine in a hotel for three days and follow that with four days of self-monitoring.

But local media say officials are now poised to scrap the hotel requirement and instead require seven days of self-monitoring.

"We would like to have an orderly opening-up...because we don't want to have chaos or confusion in the process," Mr Lee said.

09:22 AM

Family feud: Haleon rejects GSK's request in Zantac battle 

Zantac - Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images Zantac - Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Haleon, the British consumer drugs giant spun out of GSK this summer, has rejected requests for indemnification from its former parent company as court battles over heartburn drug Zantac loom.

The company on Tuesday said it had done the same to American giant Pfizer, which also made a request.

Haleon was a joint venture of GSK and Pfizer but floated on the stock market in July, with the companies retaining 13pc and 26pc stakes respectively, according to data from Bloomberg.

Yet the Zantac row puts them at loggerheads when the ink on the separation deal is barely dry.

More than 2,000 legal cases related to Zantac have been filed in the US over claims the compound contains a probable carcinogen. The drug has been sold by several companies over the years.

Haleon, a new entity, is not a party to litigation but GSK and Pfizer have both sent the company requests for indemnification - or compensation for loss or liability.

But this morning Haleon boss Brian McNamara said these requests had been rejected, on the basis that the company never agreed to accept such liability. 

A spokesman for GSK said: "We do not agree with Haleon’s position."

08:44 AM

Russia's Gazprom to halt gas supplies to China, part of planned works

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom has this morning announced it will halt gas supplies to China through the Power of Siberia pipeline from September 22 to 29 for planned maintenance works.

The company said that under its contract with the China National Petroleum Corporation, such works typically happen twice a year, in spring and autumn. 

08:39 AM

B&Q owner: Sales slide down to 'tough comparisons'

B&Q - Terence Wright / Alamy Stock Photo © Terence Wright / Alamy Stock Photo B&Q - Terence Wright / Alamy Stock Photo

B&Q has become a victim of its pandemic success, according to its boss.

The DIY retailer saw sales boom during the Covid-19 crisis as people spent more time indoors and carried out home improvements. 

But that has prompted Thierry Garnier, chief executive of the chain's parent company Kingfisher, to this morning partly blame this strong performance for a slide in the first half of this year, due to the tough comparison.

He instead pointed investors to like-for-like sales:

Kingfisher has delivered a very resilient first half of sales.

While facing very strong comparatives from the prior year as well as a more challenging environment, like-for-like sales were 16.6% ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

08:23 AM

Mike Ashley's full statement:

More here from Frasers Group's Mike Ashley on his decision to step down from the board of the business he founded four decades ago. 

Mr Ashley has already handed the reins to his son-in-law, Michael Murray, who became new chief executive in May. The retail tycoon said:

Since Michael Murray took over the leadership of Frasers Group earlier this year, the business has gone from strength to strength. It is clear that the group has the right leadership and strategy in place and I feel very confident passing the baton to Michael and his team.  Although I am stepping down from the board, I remain 100% committed to supporting Frasers and Michael's plans and ambitions, and I look forward to helping the team as and when they require me.  My commitment and support as a Frasers' shareholder is as strong as ever.

Mr Murray added:

Mike has built an incredible business over the past 40 years and, on behalf of the Board and the Group, I want to thank him for all he has done. With our new strategy and leadership team, we are driving this business forward at pace and we are all excited for the future. We are grateful to have Mike's support and expertise available to us as we continue the next stage of Frasers Group's journey.

Despite his departure, Mr Ashley will still loom large as the group's controlling shareholder.

08:03 AM

FTSE 100 opens higher

The FTSE 100 has pushed higher at the opening bell as markets look ahead to a big week of central bank interest rate decisions and a mini Budget.

The blue-chip index rose 0.7pc at the open to 7,285 points.

08:00 AM

B&Q owner hit by rising prices

B&Q Kingfisher - REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo © REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo B&Q Kingfisher - REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

The owner of B&Q has reported a decline in sales as the company grapples with surging prices for raw materials and a slowdown in demand after the pandemic DIY boom.

Kingfisher reported sales of £6.8bn in the first half of the year – down 4.1pc. Pre-tax profits dropped 30pc to £474m. 

The FTSE 100 group warned it expected inflationary pressures to continue into the second half of the year, even though raw material prices had fallen back from record highs and freight costs have slowed.

07:54 AM

Port of Liverpool workers begin two-week strike

Hundreds of workers at the Port of Liverpool have kicked off a two-week strike in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Unite union downed tools yesterday evening, shortly after the Queen's funeral ended.

The workers have rejected an 8.3pc pay rise and one-off bonus of £750, saying it amounted to a real-terms pay cut.

07:51 AM

Mike Ashley to step down from Frasers Group

Mike Ashley Frasers Group - REUTERS/David Klein/File Photo © REUTERS/David Klein/File Photo Mike Ashley Frasers Group - REUTERS/David Klein/File Photo

Billionaire retail tycoon Mike Ashley has said he's stepping down from Frasers Group as he announced plans to pump £100m into the business.

Frasers said Mr Ashley he will quit the board after the group's annual shareholder meeting next month, but will continue to act as an adviser.

The former Newcastle owner will also stump up £100m to show his "continuing strong support" for the company.

Mr Ashley has already handed over the reins to new chief executive Michael Murray, who is his son-in-law.

But he remains the controlling shareholder in the group, which owns House of Fraser and Sports Direct.

07:45 AM

China splashes out record sum on Russian energy

Good morning.

China is spending record amount of money on Russian energy as it continues to expand its reliance on the Kremlin in the wake of the Ukraine war.

Beijing forked out a record $8.3bn (£7.3bn) last month on a haul that included a record amount of coal. In the six months since the start of the war, China has spent $44bn.

The figures highlight the changing relationship between Russia and the rest of the world, with Putin looking for alternative partners as the West shuns his exports.

While energy prices have surged since the invasion, China is still buying higher volumes, sometimes as a discounted price.

5 things to start your day 

1) FCA to hire experts on ‘growth and competitiveness’ as it gears up for ‘Big Bang 2.0’  Treasury is seeking candidates with expertise in using regulation to drive growth in the Square Mile

2) German and Italian industry will struggle to recover from loss of Russian gas, warns Barclays  Economists predict the eurozone will shrink, triggering a recession for the entire currency area 

3) How a bitter £11.3bn radio row turned into a 999 emergency  Motorola accused of undermining efforts to replace blue light services' ageing Airwave network 

4) The new CNN chief trying to shake off channel's post-Trump hangover  Chris Licht oversees sweeping changes as he battles to 'sort the treasure from the trash'

5) Pint of milk now more expensive than petrol at these supermarkets  Dairy price increases are even outpacing forecourt fuel costs

What happened overnight 

Asian markets enjoyed a much-needed bounce on Tuesday, tracking Wall Street’s late rally. Hong Kong led the way, rising more than 1pc, with Sydney not far behind. Tokyo returned from a long weekend to post healthy gains, while Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila, Wellington and Jakarta were also higher.

Coming up today

  • Economics: Interest rate decision (China), housing starts (US), building permits (US)
  • Corporate: City of London Investment Trust, Frasers (full-year results); Haleon, Kingfisher (interims); Moonpig, TUI (trading update)
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