Markets latest: Parents priced out of work could fix labour shortage, says British Chambers of Commerce - live updates
The Government should help parents back into work who have been priced out due to expensive or inaccessible childcare, according to a business group seeking ways to ease labour shortages.
The highest ever share of hiring firms are reporting that they are struggling to fill vacancies since records began in 1989, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said.
The Government should in the short term give working parents more money through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, and in the longer term let parents claim additional tax back on childcare costs, the organisation said.
Alex Veitch, director of policy and public affairs at the BCC, said: "British businesses are facing the highest level of recruitment difficulties on record.
"Instead of seeing any easing of our extremely tight labour market, this issue only continues to head in the wrong direction.
"The burden of childcare is also a major barrier to inactive workers re-entering the workforce.
"Access to childcare must be simple and affordable; we would like to see the introduction of a flexible family childcare budget that can be used to the meet individual family's' needs."
Read the latest updates below.
Stocks slide as Big Tech struggles shake investors
British stocks have now slipped after disappointing earnings from Wall Street's tech giants offset a bout of optimism over the Bank of England nearing the end of its cycle of increasing interest rates.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index is flat while the midcap FTSE 250 index slid 0.9pc after touching a nine-month high in the previous session.
Wall Street futures sank after tech titans Apple, Amazon and Google-owner Alphabet reported downbeat results.
Still, both the UK equity indexes were heading for weekly gains after dovish comments from the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England raised hopes that the central banks could pause the rate-rising spree after a series of increases to bring inflation under control.
Discount retailer B&M gained 2.2pc and Marks & Spencer rose 3.2oc after Deutsche Bank upgraded their stocks to "buy" from "hold".
Plummeting Adani shares send ripples through India's parliament
Shares of India's Adani Group companies fell sharply overnight as ripples from a market rout disrupted parliament for a second day, fanning fears of systemic risk after a critical research report by a US short-seller.
Seven listed Adani enterprises lost more than half their market capitalisation, which shrivelled to less than $100bn (£82bn), after the Hindenburg Research report raised questions about the conglomerate's debt levels and use of tax havens.
Investor sentiment was jolted further after the group shelved its $2.5bn share sale on Wednesday, one of the biggest setbacks for its billionaire chairman, Gautam Adani, whose fortunes had risen rapidly in recent years.
Some politicians shouted slogans against Adani, an associate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in parliament on Friday.
They said: "We want a joint parliamentary committee (to investigate). Stop looting the poor."
Markets shoot higher at the open
Markets have continued to surge as traders appeared reassured by the messages from the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve this week.
The FTSE 100 has climbed 0.7pc at the opening bell to 7,816.44 while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has shot up 3.2pc to 20,534.45.
Openreach fibre broadband discounts cleared by regulator
Openreach's plan to offer discounted rates on its fibre broadband products does not raise competition concerns, regulator Ofcom has provisionally said.
The broadband infrastructure firm announced plans last month to offer lower wholesale prices to other internet providers for access to its fibre network, as part of its Equinox 2 scheme.
Ofcom consulted on the proposals after rival firms argued Openreach, which is part of BT Group, was using its dominant market position to price out smaller infrastructure companies.
But Ofcom said today that it does not consider the offer to be anti-competitive, in its provisional view.
The regulator is inviting responses to its consultation by March 4, before deciding how to proceed.
Big Tech needs to stop 'trading stuff' like banking industry, says early Google investor
Silicon Valley giants need to move away from ChatGPT and cryptocurrencies if it wants to get back to producing game changing technologies, according to one of the early stage investors in Google and Facebook.
Roger McNamee, founding partner of venture capital firm Elevation Partners, said Big Tech needs to stop "behaving like the banking industry where it is just trading stuff" if it is to return to growth.
His comments come after Amazon fell to its worst ever annual loss and Apple's iPhone sales slumped over Christmas, fuelling fears of a painful correction in the tech sector.
Mr McNamee said he felt these giant businesses "have reached market saturation" and "can only grow by cannibalising sales from other industries".
He said the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions with China had impacted supply chains. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
It is not helpful to have Silicon Valley and the tech industry behave like the banking industry where it is basically just trading stuff. You really need them to make new things.
The things they have been producing, whether it is the ChatGPT artificial intelligence product or self-driving cars or cryptocurrencies, these things are not the valuable game changing technologies that Silicon Valley is capable of producing.
They are much more exploitive and derivative and I really do hope the challenges these companies are facing will force them to redirect their investment into things that are more productive.
Fixing childcare support can deal with labour shortage, says BCC
Childcare support would be a key way to fix Britain's shortage of workers, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.
Eight in ten businesses attempting to recruit have faced challenges, with hospitality and manufacturing firms most likely to report difficulties, according to new research published by the organisation today.
Over six in ten businesses are actively trying to recruit staff.
Alex Veitch, director of policy and public affairs at the BCC, said:
The burden of childcare is also a major barrier to inactive workers re-entering the workforce.
Access to childcare must be simple and affordable; we would like to see the introduction of a flexible family childcare budget that can be used to the meet individual family's' needs.
With an anaemic economy and low productivity, Government must take immediate steps to ease the considerable labour pressures on businesses – we can’t afford to wait any longer.
Parents are being priced out of the labour market - and getting them back is part of the solution to fixing Britain's labour shortages, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.
Childcare has been identified as the main issue by the business group.
It said the Government should give working parents more money through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme to help encourage them back to work.
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3) Donald Trump's Scottish golf course blames Brexit after £3.7m loss | Golf course records losses despite former US president touting benefits of Brexit
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What happened overnight
China stocks fell in Friday morning trade as foreign funds reportedly stopped a buying spree while investors assessed China's economic recovery. China's blue-chip CSI 300 Index had lost 1.7 per cent by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 1.4 per cent and the Hang Seng Index had slumped 1.8 per cent.
Asian shares broadly fell as the US dollar regained some of its footing on Friday, amid a market perception the end of the global tightening cycle was in sight.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.5 per cent in the morning because of the Chinese falls but Japan's Nikkei rose 0.6 per cent.
Disappointment over earnings results from Google, Apple and Amazon tempered sentiment.
In afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.6 per cent higher at 7558.10.