Major oil states including Russia and Saudi Arabia have been urged to ramp up production in a bid to bring prices down to “reasonable levels”.
Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), called on members of the Opec+ cartel to “make the necessary steps in order to comfort the global oil markets”.
Mr Birol took aim at Russia in particular, saying the country could “easily” increase output to Europe by around 15pc.
The US and other nations – including the UK – this week announced plans to release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves after Opec shunned repeated calls to speed up output to help tame prices.
The intervention is aimed at bringing down soaring prices at the pumps that are driving up inflation and eating into household finances.
Mr Birol said: “The rise in oil prices is placing a burden on consumers in these countries and also in several emerging countries. “It also puts additional pressure on inflation in a period where economic recovery remains uneven and still faces a number of risks.”
The move threatens to ignite a row between major consuming and producing nations as the two sides grapple for control of the increasingly turbulent global energy market.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Russia and Saudi Arabia were considering a pause to their planned production increases in retaliation.
The group is due to review its strategy at a meeting in December.
The coordinated move to release more oil reserves has so far failed to tame prices, with crude oil continuing to rise as the plans were deemed less ambitious than expected.
That’s all from us for now. Thank you for following and we’ll be back again tomorrow! Here are some of our top stories from today:
Instagram boss Mosseri to testify in Senate hearing on app’s potential harm on young people
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri will testify before Congress in early December over concerns about the social media platform’s influence and potential harm on young people.
It’s the first time he has agreed to a hearing, which is scheduled for early December as part of an enquiry on protecting children online, the New York Times reported.
The Senate panel has already questioned Antigone Davis, the global head of safety for parent company Meta, and whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Ms Haugen’s revelations about the tech giant, especially about Facebook, have sparked criticism and investigations from government officials.
Bitcoin miner Griid Infrastructure mulls Spac flotation
Bitcoin miner Griid Infrastructure is mulling over a flotation through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac).
The other party would be Adit EdTech Acquisition Corp., with the pair valued at over $3bn combined, Bloomberg reported.
Griid says it uses low-cost, carbon-free energy for its US-based portfolio of bitcoin mining facilities.
Earlier this week, it secured a $525m facility from crypto-focused financial services group Blockchain.com.
Adit, instead, floated in January with a $276m initial public offering.
JP Morgan won’t give job back to former employee despite tribunal ruling
More from JP Morgan today, although it’s not about boss Jamie Dimon.
The US investment bank doesn’t want to give an ex-worker his job back despite a ruling imposing the contrary.
Earlier this year, the London employment tribunal ruled in favour of Bradley Jones, a former cash equities trader, who had argued that JP Morgan only fired him to prove a hard stance on a $1bn spoofing scandal.
But his former employer is saying that he doesn’t actually want to work there again, and is merely trying to avoid the nearly £90,000 cap on compensation awards in UK employment cases, Bloomberg reported.
It also claims that Jones’s jobs no longer exists and there aren’t similar roles available.
Nasdaq claws back losses
Let’s have a look at Wall Street now, where some stocks erased earlier declines thanks to a rebound in the tech sector.
The S&P 500 was little moved while tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 ticked higher after a 1pc fall earlier in the day.
Forestry and heavy plant equipment group Deere and Co was a bright spot, jumping 6pc to $370 after shrugging off global supply chain delays and higher labour costs following a monthlong strike in the US.
The company expects record net income of between $6.5bn and $7bn next year, topping the average estimate of $6.6bn by 17 analysts.
Fourth-quarter profit also came in above analysts’ forecasts, though revenue for the period fell short of expectations for the first time in more than two years.
FTSE 100 keeps outperforming European indices
The FTSE 100 continued outperforming its European peers today, closing 0.2pc higher at 7,286.
Performance was again propped up by strong oil prices, lifting heavyweights BP and Shell.
The top riser was Intertek, up 6pc to 5,474p, after posting a 5.6pc jump in revenues to £2.2bn thanks to its products business, offsetting weaker performance in the trade and resources segment.
Johnson Matthey, instead, underwhelmed investors after warning that dropping its electric battery business will come at a cost of £314m. Shares dipped 2pc to 2,135p.
M&S receives approval to redevelop its historic Marble Arch store
Marks & Spencer has received approval to knock down and redevelop the site of its historic Marble Arch store.
Westminster City Council has greenlighted the plans, which will see it bulldoze the store to replace it with a nine-story site which include a smaller M&S store on its ground floor, alongside office space.
The retailer said that over 90% of the materials from the existing building will be reused and the project is first in a pipeline of redevelopments to generate extra value from its property estate, PA reported.
That’s all from me today, thanks for following! Giulia Bottaro will take over from here.
AstraZeneca boss: Europe’s jab mistake was ‘defining moment’
European leaders gave the “wrong impression” that the AstraZeneca jab was dangerous by only giving it to younger people more likely to suffer side effects, the drugmaker’s chief executive has said.
Hannah Boland has the details:
Pascal Soriot said a decision by countries including France, Germany, Spain and Belgium to only offer the AstraZeneca jab to younger people early on in their vaccine rollout has proved to be a “defining moment”.
He said: “The wrong impression developed in Continental Europe. They didn’t use our vaccine for older people initially, unlike the UK, and that may have some consequences even today.
“Younger people have a more active immune system, so they have more reactions like headaches, and for our vaccine you have [these reactions with] the first dose, for mRNA you have them at the second dose.
“Younger people complained and it created the impression that the vaccine was badly tolerated.”
It comes a day after Mr Soriot suggested that AstraZeneca’s jab has helped the UK avoid a spike in hospitalisations which is being experienced by some countries in Europe.
Saudi Arabia and Russia mull pause to oil production hikes
In further signs of an escalating row over energy prices, Saudi Arabia and Russia are reportedly considering a move to pause their planned production increases.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the two nations are weighing up the move in response to a coordinated move by a US-led coalition to release millions of barrels of oil from stockpiles.
Other members of the production cartel, including the United Arab Emirates, are said to be unconvinced that a pause is necessary.
Big oil consumers like the US repeatedly called on Opec to accelerate its planned increases to output, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
US new home sales rise as prices hit record high
More from the slew of US data now, with figures showing new home sales edged up in October as climbed to record highs.
Purchases of new family homes increased 0.4pc to an annual rate of 745,000, though this was slightly behind forecasts.
Meanwhile, the average price of a new home jumped to a record $407,700 (£306,000).
Much like in the US, sentiment among housebuilders has been buoyed by low mortgage rates and demand for larger properties out of city centres as more people work from home.
However, higher materials costs and labour shortages have slowed the pace of construction and pushed prices out of reach for many prospective buyers.
US consumer spending keeps rising as inflation heats up
US personal spending rose by more than expected last month as households kept splashing the cash despite another surge in inflation.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that consumer spending – which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity – jumped 1.3pc in October after rising 0.3pc the previous month. Spending was partially boosted by higher prices as demand continues to outpace supply.
It came as the Fed’s personal consumption expenditures index – which it uses as a key measure of inflation – rose 0.6pc month on month and 5pc from a year earlier, its biggest increase in three decades.
Following a slump in the third quarter, consumers are increasingly parting with their cash, with fears of empty shelves and paying even more scarce goods encouraging many to start their Christmas shopping early.
But economists have warned spending could begin to slow due to a resurgence of Covid cases and more acute shortages.
Red Bull billionaire pockets £570m payday
Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz will pocket a €680.5m (£571m) dividend after his Red Bull empire continued to grow despite the pandemic.
Sales of the highly-caffeinated drink hit €6.3bn in 2020 – 4pc more than a year earlier – with growth in the US and Europe offsetting revenue declines elsewhere in the world.
The company also saved on marketing costs as some of the sports events it sponsors were cancelled due to the pandemic. This helped push up net profit by almost a third to €1.1bn.
Red Bull is paying out half of its distributable profit plus another half a billion euros to Mr Mateschitz, who owns 49pc of the company, plus Thailand’s Yoovidhya family, which controls the remainder.
Mateschitz gets an additional €165m extra dividend on top of his pro rata amount, while Chalerm Yoovidhya also gets an extra €3.2m, according to its annual report.
Bulb seeks administrator with just £8.5m in cash
Collapsed energy supplier Bulb said it’s got just £8.5m in cash left as it prepares to enter special administration.
Lawyers for the company said it’s insolvent and faces a potential challenge from its largest lender, Sequoia, to which it owes £55m.
“It is unclear whether Sequoia will attempt to disrupt the process”, the lawyers said in a court filing.
Regulator Ofgem has asked a court to appoint an administrator to Bulb, which has around 1.7m customers. If approved, the company will be run by administrator Teneo until a potential buyer can be found, or until its customers leave.
Dollar jumps to highest level since July 2020
The dollar has leapt to its highest level in more than a year amid higher Treasury yields and a string of new economic data.
The Bloomberg dollar index was up as much as 0.4pc after figures showed jobless claims were at their lowest level in more than five decades, while GDP growth was revised upwards.
This took the currency past its high in September last year and to its best level since July 2020.
Jamie Dimon apologises for China Communist Party comment
Time for a grovelling retreat by JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon, who says he regrets quipping that the Wall Street bank would outlive China’s Communist Party.
During a panel discussion on Tuesday night, the bank boss said: “I made a joke the other day that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year – so is JP Morgan. I’d make a bet that we last longer.”
In an apologetic statement released this afternoon, Mr Dimon said he regretted the comment and should not have made it. A spokesman said the chief executive had acknowledged he should “never speak lightly or disrespectfully about another country or its leadership”.
Read more: Jamie Dimon apologises for saying JP Morgan will outlast China’s Communist Party
Wall Street dips at the open
US stocks have lost ground at the opening bell as investors digest a slew of economic data and corporate results that paint a mixed picture of the economic recovery.
The S&P 500 opened down 0.3pc, while the Dow Jones fell 0.2pc. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.6pc.
Data showed new jobless claims plunged to their lowest level since 1969, while GDP growth was revised higher. But other data showed a decrease in durable goods orders.
Markets were also rattled by some disappointing results, with retailers Gap and Nordstrom dropping 25pc and 20pc respectively after warning of supply chain troubles and rising costs.
Attention will now turn to personal consumption data for October – a key metric watched by the Fed to gauge consumer spending strength.
US jobless claims fall to 52-year low as GDP revised up
Applications for US unemployment benefits plunged last week to their lowest level since 1969 in a major milestone for the country’s labour market recovery.
Claims fell by 71,000 to 199,000 in the week ending Nov 20, according to official data. This was below the 260,000 claims forecast by analysts.
Unemployment claims hit a peak of 6.1m last year but have since declined as the economy reopens and Americans return to work.
It came as separate data revealed a slight upward revision in GDP estimates in the third quarter thanks to stronger than expected personal spending.
Economic growth is now slated at 2.1pc for the three-month period – up from previous forecasts of 2pc – with consumer spending up 1.7pc.
Kwasi Kwarteng dismisses fracking over ‘earthquake’ threat
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has dismissed fracking as an option for easing the UK’s energy crisis due to issues linked to “earthquakes”.
Sammy Wilson, a DUP MP, asked why the Government wasn’t prepared to turn to fracking, saying there was “enough gas under the ground in the UK to have us totally supplied for the whole country for 150 years”.
Mr Kwarteng replied that ministers had looked at fracking but there were “issues with respect to effects on the Richter Scale, earthquakes, that sort of thing, people objected to that and we imposed a moratorium on it.”
The Business Secretary also denied a return to an “oligopoly” in the energy market despite the collapse of 22 suppliers.
He added: “What’s happened is there’s been a huge mismatch between the wholesale price and the retail price cap, and the retail price cap is there to protect consumers.”
Snap to more than double London HQ size
The parent company behind messaging app Snapchat has reportedly inked a deal that will more than double its office space in London.
US-listed Snap, which is led by Evan Spiegel, has agreed to take almost 115,000 square feet at a soon-to-be-completed building in Clerkenwell, the Evening Standard reports.
The development, called Bloom, features offices, terraces and a fitness studio. It’s leased by CBRE and Compton and is situated next to Farringdon station.
Snap currently has around 400 employees in London, based in two locations in Soho. The new headquarters would allow it to house around 1,500 people.
Biotech firm Genus plunges on China pig troubles
Livestock genetics firm Genus is the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 today, dropping 15pc after it warned on profit for the full year.
The company said volumes had dropped due to volatility in the Chinese pig market – a key driver of its business.
Analysts at Peel Hunt said profit performance in China would remain a “rollercoaster” given unpredictable pricing and volumes.
Landsec ‘in talks’ to increase Bluewater stake
Landsec is said to be in talks to buy Lendlease’s 25pc stake in Bluewater shopping centre for around £200m.
Property Week reports that a deal would allow the FTSE 100 group to take majority control of of the Dartford mall, lifting its stake to 55pc.
According to the report, Landsec is also interested in increasing its holding further still, potentially taking full ownership if remaining shareholders were willing to sell.
US futures dip ahead of data barrage
US futures have dipped as investors brace for a slew of economic data releases that will be pored over for signs of inflationary pressures that could prompt the Fed to lift interest rates.
Futures tracking the three main indices – the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq – are all down 0.3pc.
Data on weekly jobless claims, durable goods orders and third-quarter GDP are all expected this afternoon, as are figures on personal consumption in October.
The numbers will give key a indication of the state of the economy as the US heads into the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
Council-backed energy supplier races to find new funding
The threat of more energy supplier collapses is looming large, with one local authority-backed company said to be racing to find new funding.
Sky News reports that Together Energy, which is 50pc owner by Warrington Borough Council, has appointed advisers at Alvarez & Marsal to secure a cash injection.
The firm, which supplies more than 170,000 homes, is said to be pitching to prospective investors that it is well-positioned to acquire underperforming rivals once wholesale energy markets begin to stabilise.
It’s not clear how big a funding shortfall Together Energy is facing.
More than 20 domestic energy suppliers have collapsed since the start of August amid an ongoing crisis in the sector. Bulb, the UK’s seventh-largest supplier, is set to fall into insolvency later today, with the Government intervening to keep it afloat.
Darktrace hails ‘tremendous’ year despite FTSE relegation risk
Darktrace’s chairman has struck a bullish tone over the outlook for his company, despite a recent slide in its share price that puts its status as a blue-chip firm at risk.
In an AGM statement this morning, Gordon Hurst said: “It’s been a tremendous year for Darktrace and I am excited about the future for this business – we have a strong team and are uniquely positioned to continue our successful upward trajectory as we lead the way forward in cyber security and enter our next phase of strategic growth.”
The cybersecurity firm said its revenue had increased 41pc over the year and described its stock market float as a “pivotal point” in its journey so far.
But Darktrace may find its stint as a blue-chip company is short-lived after seeing its shares slide almost 50pc since Peel Hunt issued a bearish note in late October.
It’s now braced for possible removal from the FTSE 100 after only being promoted to the top-flight index last month.
ECB must be patient amid bad bout of inflation, says Panetta
The European Central Bank (ECB) must not tighten monetary policy too early in response to sharp inflation driven by “purely temporary factors”, executive board member Fabio Panetta has said.
The ECB official said withdrawing stimulus too early would risk damaging the eurozone economy and curbing domestic demand.
He said: “The data suggest the current picture is dominated by a bout of ‘bad’ inflation generated outside the euro area, whereas we are far from seeing abnormally large domestic demand.
“Monetary policy should remain patient. A premature tightening would restrain spending before demand has returned to trend.”
It follows a raft of more hawkish comments from other ECB officials warning that surging prices were becoming more structural.
Time to check in on the Telegraph’s Money team and some of their top stories of the day;
Lira claws back some losses after record slump
The Turkish lira has clawed back some of its losses after it crashed 15pc to record lows on Tuesday as President Tayyip Erdogan defended a string of recent rate cuts.
The lira has hit new all-time lows for 11 consecutive sessions and its losses against the dollar this year stand at 40pc, with a 19pc decline since the beginning of last week al one.
On Wednesday morning it edged slightly higher, up 0.8pc on Tuesday’s closing price.
President Erdogan has pushed for rate cuts to drive investment and yesterday vowed to win his “economic war of independence”. But he’s facing growing criticism from economists pleading for a reversal in policy as inflation surges and the value of the lira continues to slump.
HSBC poaches two top bankers from UBS
HSBC has poached two senior investment bankers from rival UBS as it looks to expand its presence in Asia’s tech sector.
Ajinkya Mukhopadhyay has been named head of technology, media and telecoms for southeast Asia and India at the British lender, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg.
He was previously head of TMT banking for the same region at UBS and has 20 years of sector experience in dealmaking and investing.
HSBC has also appointed Andrew An as a managing director covering TMT in China.
Olaf Scholz secures German coalition deal
Ifo’s grim business confidence survey is casting a shadow over what should be a good day for Germany, where a deal has finally been reached to form a new government after months of fraught negotiations.
Olaf Scholz has secured an agreement that will see him success Angela Merkel as Chancellor. It will bring together his centre-Left Social Democrats, the pro-business Free Democrats and the German Greens.
Mrs Merkel is not standing down yet. She will remain as caretaker chancellor until the new government is formally approved in a vote by parliament and Mr Scholz is sworn in.
That is expected to happen in around two weeks’ time, in the week beginning December 6.
Full details of the deal will be revealed at a press conference this afternoon.
Read more: End of Merkel era: Olaf Scholz secures coalition deal to form new German government
Google employees fight back against vaccine mandate
Hundreds of Google employees have signed a petition against compulsory coronavirus vaccinations for staff returning to the office and some of those working from home.
Matthew Field reports:
Google staff circulated a document laying out their objections to the tech giant’s vaccination policies, which will require its 150,000 employees to upload their vaccination status by December 3.
All Google staff will have to reveal their vaccination status to the company, whether they work from home or in the office, while anyone working on government contracts will have to be vaccinated.
At least 600 staff signed a manifesto within Google, although this represents just a small fraction of its workforce, asking the company to withdraw the policy, CNBC first reported.
The White House has ordered that all companies in the US with more than 100 staff must get their staff vaccinated, or implement a policy of regular Covid-19 testing, by January 4.
Water giant United Utilities cashes in on return to office
The UK’s largest listed water company has seen its revenues rise in the first half as the return to the office helped drive up consumption by businesses.
United Utilities posted a 4.2pc rise in revenues to £932m, as a rise in business consumption offset lower demand from households.
This contributed to a 4.5pc rise in operating profits. However, costs increased sharply as a large portion of the company’s debt is linked to inflation.
Gas prices hold steady amid Nord Stream 2 tensions
Gas prices have held their ground on Wednesday amid uncertainty around Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany.
Prices had jumped the most in a week on Tuesday after the US imposed sanctions relating to the pipeline. Benchmark Dutch prices rose 0.6pc, while the UK equivalent was up 0.4pc.
Analysts at Alfa Energy told Bloomberg: “New sanctions from the White House on Nord Stream 2 look to have limited physical effect, but compound the political issues the European supply system is facing ahead of an uncertain winter.”
Johnson Matthey slumps as it withdraws from battery market
Chemicals firm Johnson Matthey is one of the FTSE 100’s biggest fallers this morning, as investors reacted to a downbeat set of results.
The manufacturer posted a pre-tax loss of £9m in the first half and said it will write down its battery materials unit valued at £314m.
It comes after Johnson Matthey announced plans to abandon its push into battery materials – a move that sent shares tumbling.
The firm also said it had sold its glass products division to Fenzi for £178m and was mulling the sale of its health unit. It’s now planning to pump £1bn into the nascent hydrogen sector as it bets on rising demand as sector such as steelmaking look to cut emissions.
The revamp failed to impress investors, though, with shares dropping as much as 8.3pc in early trading.
German business confidence falls to seven-month low
German business confidence has taken another hit, as the looming threat of lockdown measures adds to the inflationary pressures weighing on manufacturing.
A closely-watched index from the Ifo Institute dropped for the fifth month in a row to 96.5 – its lowest since April. This was down from 97.7 last month and below expectations of 96.7.
German businesses have already been grappling with supply chain disruptions and rising prices that threaten its key manufacturing sector.
Fears of another lockdown now risk hitting demand for services, which have been a key driver of the recovery amid woes for factories.
Ifo President Clemens Fuest said: “Supply bottlenecks and the fourth wave of the coronavirus are challenging German companies. Sentiment in the service sector deteriorated noticeably.”
Orange boss convicted in €400m fraud case
The head of French telecoms giant Orange has been handed a one-year suspended jail sentence after being convicted of complicity in misuse of public funds.
Stephane Richard was found guilty of helping the late Bernard Tapie cheat the government out of about €400m (£335m) in 2008. A judge also handed him a €50,000 fine after overturning a previous acquittal.
It’s not clear what the conviction means for Mr Richard’s future at Orange. His tenure as chief executive is due to end in May, and he’s said he wants to stay on as chairman while splitting the top roles.
A top finance ministry official previously said the Orange boss must step down if he was convicted.
Pound stagnates close to 2021 lows
Sterling is little changed on Wednesday, stagnating close to an 11-month low against a stronger dollar.
The pound is up a marginal 0.01pc at $1.334 – its lowest level since December 2020.
The dollar has gained ground on expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, investors are focusing on whether the Bank of England will act on rates at its December meeting, as well as the rollout of fresh lockdown measures across Europe.
Against the euro, sterling is down 0.1pc at 84.13p after hitting its highest since February 2020 on Monday.
Mulberry enjoys reopening boost despite tourism slump
Mulberry has enjoyed a boost in sales since shops reopened, though the luxury brand said it’s missing out on foreign tourists’ cash amid continued travel restrictions.
Sales jumped by more than a third to £65.7m in the six months to 25 September. It also swung to a pre-tax profit of £10.2m, compared to a £2.4m loss last year.
Mulberry improved its profit margins after cutting down on discounts, but the absence of tourists from British high streets took their toll.
This was offset in part by improved trading in Asia, with sales leaping 38pc in China amid heavy investment in the region.
But while store sales improved, shoppers turned away from its online business, with digital sales dropping 19pc in the period to £19.1m. By comparison, store sales were up 87pc to £36.m.
Chipmaker IQE loses a fifth of value as demand slows
One of the biggest market movers this morning is IQE, the British chipmaker that supplies iPhone parts to Apple.
Shares in the London-listed company crashed as much as 21pc to their lowest level since June 2020 after it issued a profit warning. IQE said it now expects revenues to be down by around 8pc due to weak demand for smartphones and 5G.
Analysts at Peel Hunt said the “disappointment” of revenue forecasts highlights the important of the company’s new chief executive. They also warned of continued strain on mobile-related orders until supply chain troubles ease.
Britvic fizzes despite cost pressures
Soft drink maker Britvic has seen its profits fizz following the easing of lockdown restrictions and offered a bullish outlook despite cost pressures.
The group, which owns brands including Robinsons squash and J2O, posted pre-tax profits of £143m for the year to September 30, up from £111m the previous year.
While sales slumped in the first half of the year, a strong rebound as lockdown lifted meant revenues ended 6.5pc higher at £1.4bn.
Britvic said that while out-of-home sales had not yet recovered to pre-Covid levels, demand had picked up in other areas such as multipack drinks, which it put down to a rise in staycationing over the summer.
The company acknowledged challenges from supply chain disruption and rising costs, but still forecast a rise in revenue, profit and margins in 2022.
Shares ticked up as much as 2pc following the update.
FTSE risers and fallers
The FTSE 100 has extended its gains this morning, pushing 0.5pc higher to its best level in a week.
The third consecutive day of gains is being led by oil majors BP and Shell, which are both up 1pc as the US-led release of strategic oil reserves underwhelmed investors.
Miners also gained ground on higher commodity prices.
The domestically-focused FTSE 250 is up 0.2pc, but asset manager Brewin Dolphin has slid 5.7pc after warning of market volatility ahead.
JP Morgan risks Beijing’s ire
Jamie Dimon’s eyebrow-raising joke that JP Morgan will outlive the Chinese Communist Party has so far been met by deafening silence in Beijing.
The lender has a lot riding on maintaining good relations with the country, so it’s no wonder member of its government relations team and China offices are reported to have had internal discussions over the remarks.
Bloomberg reports that JP Morgan is stressing how Mr Dimon intended to highlight the bank’s longevity, rather than criticise the Communist Party. So far, there’s been no communication with local government officials.
Beijing has a long track record of punishing companies and individuals for anything perceived as a challenge or slight to its policies.
In 2019, UBS came under pressure to fire its chief economist, Paul Donovan, after he made a comment about a “Chinese pig” in a note about rising consumer prices. He later apologised, saying it was “innocently intended.”
China also broke off relations with Norway for several years after dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Lidl to add 4,000 new jobs by 2025
Lidl has unveiled plans to create 4,000 new jobs over the next three years as its rapid expansion on the UK high street continues at pace.
Bosses said they expect the chain to hit its target of 1,000 stores by 2023 and set a new aim of 1,100 sites by 2025.
It came as Lidl’s latest annual accounts showed the German discounter benefited from a sharp sales boost during the pandemic.
Sales jumped 12pc to £7.7bn and pre-tax profits hit £9.8m, compared to a £25.2m loss a year earlier.
Christian Hartnagel, Lidl’s UK chief executive, said:
We delivered an impressive trading performance in the period which was supported by our continued investment in new and existing stores, product innovation and our people.
All of this contributed to growth in our revenue and profits and positions us well for further growth in the years to come.
FTSE 100 rises 0.2pc
The FTSE 100 has opened in positive territory this morning, building on yesterday’s gains.
The blue-chip index is up 0.2pc at the open to 7,278 points.
David Cameron ‘lobbied’ Lloyds to keep funding Greensill deal
Lloyds is said to have backtracked on its decision to withdraw support from a Greensill Capital project after David Cameron lobbied a member of the board earlier this year.
The Financial Times reports that Mr Cameron lobbied James Lupton – a director at the bank who was given a peerage by the former Prime Minister in 2015 – in January.
Lloyds had previously indicated it would withdraw its funding from Greensill’s supply chain financing of NHS pharmacies.
The lender reconsidered its decision and agreed to continue its involvement, according to the report. Greensill collapsed in March.
A Lloyds spokesman said: “The decision to continue this facility in January 2021 was made on the usual commercial basis and in recognition of the importance of maintaining this facility for the NHS at the height of the pandemic.”
The collapse of Greensill has sparked reviews in the the rules around lobbying, with Mr Cameron coming under scrutiny for his actions as a well-paid adviser to the firm.
Elon Musk share sale hits half Twitter promise
For anyone keeping tabs on Elon Musk’s share sale, the Tesla founder has now passed the halfway mark of the promise he made on Twitter a few weeks back.
After a brief interlude, Mr Musk has resumed selling shares in the electric vehicle maker, offloading a further $1.05bn (£750m) in stock.
This takes the total sell-off to 9.2m shares worth around $9.9bn since the billionaire conducted a Twitter poll asking whether he should sell 10pc of his Tesla stake. A chunk of that money will go to taxes.
To reach to 10pc mark, the world’s richest person would need to sell some 17m shares, or about 1.7pc of the company’s outstanding stock.
Gap hit by supply woes
We kick off the day with more supply chain troubles – this time for US fashion giant Gap.
The retailer booked hefty charges linked to supply chain constraints, forcing it to slash its forecast for revenue growth to 20pc from 30pc. It also cut its profit outlook.
Like many retailers, Gap has turned to air freight and is diversifying its use of ports in an effort to mitigate the impact of shipping delays.
5 things to start your day
1) Britain joins global challenge to Opec’s oil stranglehold Countries commit to releasing 70m barrels in bid to lower prices following steep production cuts by Saudis and Russia
2) Outrage cannot make the web safer, warns Ofcom chief after criticism from Paul Dacre Dame Melanie Dawes lays out plans to tackle tech giants after firebrand Daily Mail editor abandons campaign to chair regulator
3) Firms order food from new kitchens in bid to entice workers back to the office Catering giant Compass sets up remote kitchens in London and Dublin for corporate clients without canteens
4) Daily Mirror publisher builds financial firepower for takeovers Reach doubles loan facilities to £120m as experts predict fresh wave of consolidation of regional titles
5) Which energy provider will go bust next? The collapse of Bulb brings the number of failures to 20, while Scottish Power warns of even higher bills to come
What happened overnight
Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday following a run of weakness but inflation worries and expectations of tighter central bank monetary policy continue to hold traders’ focus as crude extended gains despite US moves to boost output.
The Nikkei 225 fell 1.6pc, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.5pc. The Shanghai Composite ticked up 0.1pc.
Coming up today
Corporate: Brewin Dolphin, Britvic, Town Centre Securities, Virgin Money UK (Full-year results); Johnson Matthey, De La Rue, First Property Group, United Utilities (Interims); Breedon Group, Rotork (Trading update)
Economics: GDP, jobless claims, new home sales (US); business climate (Ger)